Learning Activity: Create Your Own Learning Activity

1. In 125-175 words, describe the importance of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is important to people as well as the environment. It varies depending on location, climate, topography, etc. Humans value it for both ecocentric and anthropocentric reasons. Biodiversity affects all organisms from recreational benefits, medicine, food, and even scientific information. The anthropocentric reasons are ways in which it could be useful for us humans. Besides physical means of biodiversity importance, there are ecocentric reasons in which we value it. Ecocentric reasons is basically what goes further than the typical benefits; they have an intrinsic value. In some instances, one might find comfort in knowing that our biodiversity is protected and conserved for many generations to come. Sometimes simply having the knowledge that the future of biodiversity is secure is simply satisfying enough. There are many benefits to having biodiversity in the environment, ranging from those on the microscopic to the bigger than human levels.

2. In 125-175 words, what are some means that Pennsylvania (or whichever state you live in) could help subdue threats faced against biodiversity?

Even though it is impossible to complete get rid of all the threats facing biodiversity, we can certainly subdue such activities. Pennsylvania has a lot of different organizations to help the biodiversity of many organisms and other species. For example, the PA Fish and Boat Commission take many samples of fish and other aquatic populations. They recognize the abundance of the species and are able to control them by either adding an outside agent to improve or decline the actual numbers. By doing this, each species is able to achieve a sustainable number even after their harvest season. This organization can remove invasive species to help the wanted organisms thrive in our environment. Other means of increasing the biodiversity throughout Pennsylvania can be something as simple as planting a garden to help birds and insects. It all varies, but it will be beneficial for future generations.

3. Draw a system diagram to show the relationship between humans and biodiversity.


Learning Activity: Climate Diplomacy

  1. wikileaks
  2. In my system diagram, I wanted to show the relationship between climate change and WikiLeaks cables. I started off by showing some main contributing factors of climate change, which we know as Greenhouse Gases and the use of Fossil Fuels. Because the talk of climate change has become such a major issue in these recent decades, the Copenhagen Accord was created. Climate change is starting to show its effects on certain parts of the Earth. For example, ice caps are melting and the sea level is rising. The United States agrees with this Copenhagen Accord idea, so they go to seek allies in support of this action.Being that the Copenhagen Accord really benefited the United States, action was taken in order to get other countries to agree with this method. Some unethical methods, such as bribery and cyber attacks, were used against other countries which ended up forcing them to sign on to the agreement. Perhaps some challenges will arise in the future, but only time will tell. I can, however, definitely see that happening being that some of the ‘forced’ agreeing countries might rise up against the accord some time down the road. In the end, there were many countries who did not agree with the dishonesty of the United States, but 116 countries signed on and an additional 26 agreed in the end. Even though the countries were manipulated into signing this agreement, one can state that the Copenhagen Accord was successful in reaching its goal of having such a large amount of agreements.
  3. When it comes to my own personal opinion, I certainly have a dead set point on the cables and climate change diplomacy. The cables should definitely be made public. It is the right of the human body to be able to observe and attain such knowledge. The United States is always concerned about the money and getting the better end of a deal. With that being known, it concludes in the overall goal of a project (such as the Copenhagen Accord) to be lost. The goal is to eventually slow down or stop the change of the climate with the census of countries around the world. The United State is obsessed with the fact that they need the POWER when inn fact they need to worry about their STATUS. Giving a bad name by manipulating other countries to agree with such accord is not a way of gaining a higher global status. Even if the act was incorrect, of releasing the State Department Cables, we can only embrace how it was done and hope for a better outcome in time. The cables showed the blunt truth as to what the exact negative impacts are of greenhouse gas emissions and burning of fossil fuels. This should have been done in a less aggressive manner by the United States. The whole truth should have been made aware and nothing should have been left off of the grid to anyone. Secrets are never a good way to get anywhere, especially in politics.

Learning Activity: Vulnerability Reduction

  1.  I will be focusing on my hometown of Tyrone, Pennsylvania for this assignment. Tyrone is located in central PA in Blair County right off of the Little Juniata River. The Nathan World map shows the natural disasters that my area is most prone to. Such disasters include: heavy rainfall, hurricanes, and rising sea levels. Being that I live so close to a river, I am constantly updated on our potentials of floods. Usually the river rises exponentially in the spring with the showers that normally come with that time of year, and the water level then lowers during the summer months. This particular map was not very well suited for this task. The map appeared very washed out and it was difficult to observe as it did not zoom in very well.
  2.  The disaster I chose to focus on was the volcano eruption that occurred on March 31, 2016 in the State of Puebla, Mexico. The Popocatepetl Volcano erupted did not destroy cities; however, there were amounts of ash that came from the volcano, so the full spectrum of damage is unknown. This type of natural disaster cannot happen in Tyrone, PA as there are no volcanoes near central Pennsylvania. If an eruption were to ever happen in my small town, our residents would have little to no knowledge as to how to handle the situation. We would be more terrified than making progress on getting out of that location. If this particular eruption were to happen in Tyrone, I feel that we would be able to manage it as there was minor damage done with only ash coming from the volcano. I know that the local high school practices tornado drills, so adding a volcano eruption drill might reduce the vulnerability of my town to such a disaster,
  3.  During my research, Tyrone has had no volcano eruptions being that there are no known local volcanoes. There is also a very little chance of there being any earthquakes in this little town. The natural disaster that Tyrone is the most prone to is a tornado, although there have been only 30 tornado occurrences in the area since 1950 (Homefacts 2016). There has not been any recent emergencies with tornado warnings in Tyrone, but there is still a chance for one to strike in the valley. On July 19, 1996, a tornado touched down in Cambria County and proceeded to move southeast for approximately 17 miles. The vortex damaged many mobile homes and farms in five main points. This particular tornado damaged a nearby lake and many crop fields in the area (USA.com).
  4. I feel that the local school districts handle vulnerability to natural disasters very well, as I remember doing tornado drills and earthquake drills once every marking period throughout the year. Our schools should practice volcano drills just in case one were to erupt and reach our little town from far away. One thing about these disasters is that you never know when they are going to strike and how much damage they are going to cause. We should educate the community on how to handle themselves in case such events were to occur. I feel that our fire companies and other community organizations should put together some events to spread awareness on what natural disasters can do and how to handle it.


  • Homefacts (2016). Tornado Information for Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Retrieved from: http://www.homefacts.com/tornadoes/Pennsylvania/Blair-County/Tyrone.html
  •  USA.com (2016). Tyrone, PA Natural Disaster and Weather Extremes. Retrieved from: http://www.usa.com/tyrone-pa-natural-disasters-extremes.htm

Learning Activity: Sustainable Cities

I currently reside in Blair County, Pennsylvania just 15 miles north of Altoona. My home is in Tyrone which is right along the Little Juniata River, and the most recent population count was in 2013 where there was a record of 5,412 people in my community. This small town is only 2 square-miles, so the town has an urban feel to it lately with just over 5,000 people residing in that area. Along with the public Elementary school, we have a small Catholic School in town that only teaches up to the 5th grade and then students transfer to the public Middle and (eventually) High school.The Catholic school averages at about 15 students per grade where the average graduating class at Tyrone is around 130 students each year. I live at the northern end of Tyrone, located outside of the town in a more rural setting. I spend a little time in town as I possibly can being that I am not attracted to areas with a high population density.

The first city I would like to recognize is Beakon Hill. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, this town promotes physical exercise through walking, biking, and other means of transport other than the automobile. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Tyrone is only 2 square-miles; however, people refuse to walk anywhere because of the few hills in the area. The sidewalks, in Tyrone, are hardly able to be traveled on due to their poor condition except for on the main avenue located just off the interstate. If there was a better layout of our town with more sidewalks, playgrounds, outdoor organization, etc., then I feel that the population would be more open-minded to going to their friends house beside a vehicle who is barely a mile away.

One of the cities that seemed to catch my attention was Detroit. The mention of a second Green Revolution through the use of urban farming seemed to be be working rather well in more urban settings such as Detroit, so I figure that using such technique in Tyrone would be great for those of us who actually reside here. A majority of our residents are not in the healthiest states, so using some of our abandoned properties and small yards would help in improving our diets, health, and satisfactory of living such as it is doing in Detroit. We do have a farmers market that comes to town once or twice over the summer, but that does not really impact us in the same way if we were to grow it ourselves where we would have access to these products more than twice a year. Tyrone needs a wake up call in the fact that we cannot sustain ourselves on burgers and pizza.

Learning Activity: Food Choice & Social Norms

  1. As a fast food employee, I encounter many food choices influenced through social norms every time I clock in. I have learned, however, to overlook others choices and let them make their own decisions. I, for one, have grown quite the appetite for fast food products as I am constantly surrounded by it. Personally, I have noticed an increase in business at the restaurant of my employment within these most recently months. Customers demand to have food in their own hands in under five minutes at these restaurants, and it is then devoured. Being that I am at this particular restaurant 6 days a week, I notice patterns in who our regular customers are and the trends of such customers who walk through our doors. It is a well-known fact that fast food is not the healthiest if consumed, and it can even lead to obesity issues.
  2. As one who has personally noticed a sudden amount of weight gain since signing the employment contract, I can confirm that overeating and eating unhealthy foods more than a few days a week can cause a obesity. Obesity can lead to a many number of health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and even death. In the U.S. alone, approximately 30% of the population is obese. The problem is that we cannot force people to stop consuming this unhealthy product as it is really convenient and rather cheap to purchase which is the social norm. How can we possibly get away from this? We simply cannot! There is a constant exposure to this cheap and unhealthy product through commercials on television, billboards, etc. Eating fast food is not always a bad thing, but when it turns into a convenient habit is when we start worrying about our health and chances of obesity.
  3. food_diagram_sms6421

Learning Activity: Water Tracking & Usage

Part 1-a: The water source for my hometown of Tyrone, Pennsylvania starts out on Sandy Ridge Mountain, where there are limestone springs and a well. This water is run into the filtration system and has a minimal amount of chlorine allowed by the state added. They do not add any other components to the water at this time. From there, it is pumped into a storage tank on Sandy Ridge mountain and goes into the pipeline gravity feed off the mountain into the intersection of 350 and Business Route 220. It feeds the various homes on the way down the mountain and all are metered and documented by pressure control gauges. At the intersection, one pipeline goes north and the other goes south and feeds all residential and businesses. All waste and excess water by drains goes into the Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority lines to the sewer plant below Tyrone in the Nealmont area. The waste water is then processed and returned into the Juniata River for further usage.

Part 1-b: 


Activity                                                        Amount of Water Used



Brushing Teeth (x2)                                      2 quarts = 0.5 gallons

Using Toilet (x4)                                           12 gallons

Hydration (Drinking)                                     1 gallon

Cooking (x2)                                                 1 gallon

Washing Dishes                                           4 gallons

Hand Washing (x4)                                      4 gallons

Laundry (1 load)                                           7 gallons

Shower (15 minutes)                                    20 gallons

Total Usage                                                49.5 gallons


Part 1-c: Living on two gallons of water a day would require me to change my current water usage drastically. First of all, I would not be able to complete my daily activities of washing dishes, doing laundry in the washer, showering, etc. I would need to cut down my water usage to the basic daily needs. I would need to set aside some water strictly for my own hydration. I would also set aside some water for basic sanitation such as brushing teeth and washing my hands. Hygiene is very important for me, so setting aside a small amount of water for that use would be beneficial to maintaining my health. The rest of the water that I would have remaining would go into the use of cooking. My style of cooking takes up quite a high amount of water, so having as much left of my two gallon limit a day would be a great impact. I believe that I could make live successfully on two gallons a water each day; however, it would take me a bit of time to adapt to such little use. In any given area, you will have a certain amount of expected rainfall or water delivered by subterranean surfaces. There is a maximum amount of water given to any geographic area with farming, industry, recreational use cannot exceed what is available in supply. Blatant waste, failure to recycle, and other factors result in a diminishing amount of activities that can be completed with water usage. Such examples include Los Angeles and New York City.

Learning Activity: Your Ethics Views

1.Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?

I believe that it is more important to be a good person than it is to perform good acts. Now, others may disagree with me on this; however, good people are the best to be around and involved with. Grant it, performing good acts is a great for the soul, but is it really doing them any good if they are not 100% true of them? I would much rather deal with someone with a good heart who  does good deeds than someone who is not true to those around them in the acts they perform. Not being true to yourself gives a fake identity to others viewing you. In my own experiences of working with people, I can vouch that it is much more pleasant and satisfying to work with someone who is a good person inside and out rather than the person who is just there to perform the good act. Performing good acts certainly is a good thing, but it starts from having those good intentions.

5.Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?

Absolutely, yes! Now, I am in no way an animal rights activist who is going to throw these obscure facts in your face that eating animals is wrong (I am an active meat eater, myself); however, just because they are a food source does not mean that animals do not matter as much as we humans. It has been proven in many different experiments over time that animals do have feelings and are able to feel pain, happiness, fear, and many more. It is not fair to think of them lesser than ourselves. If we were being hunted or harvested by a much greater predator, would our pleasure and pain matter as much as that superior species? I am certain that you would believe that our feelings still matter just as much as every living organism around you.

6.Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?

Whenever I was little, I always thought that the world revolved around me (typical bratty child). I also thought that there was always a plan for me throughout my life. I was not until many years down the road where I realized that the lives of others matter just as much as mine. Now, I use to be selfish enough to believe that I was more important than others, and that their lives did not matter nearly as much as my own. It was not until I started volunteering my time in different youth organizations where I noticed that these children are our leaders of tomorrow; they are the ones we should be looking towards and promoting. It would not be fair to think that Little Johnny did not deserve an ice cream cone and I did simply because of the belief that he did not matter as much as I did. Life is not always fair, but that does not mean that the lives of others do not matter.

Learning Activity: Biogas System Diagram

We learned in Module 2 that population has a detrimental impact on the environment. Each area has a certain carrying capacity, so not everyone in that environment will have access to luxury items or items required for survival. In my diagram, I covered the main concepts from the video provided in this module related to both the social system as well as the ecosystem. When comparing my diagram to that of Figure 1.5 from the “What is Human Ecology?”  reading, one can clearly see that Gerry Marten and myself had some similar approaches as well as some differences in our diagrams. I took a more broad approach in my categories, such as “Human Community”, whereas Marten broke it down into “Number of Children”, “Human Population”, and “Need for Labour”; however, each of our diagrams share the same idea as to how the biogas tanks in India are effecting the social system and the ecosystem. Everyone has a different view as to which points in the video were key to the biogas of India, so wee will each have a slightly different diagram of what we see. When comparing my diagram to that of Martens’, one can learn that the biogas has had an impact on the number of jobs, women and children in the population, as well as the markets. One can also see that there are more than just their view on the subject, so there is more than what meets the eye.

LA 1: Getting to Know You

Greetings! My name is Samantha Sessamen, and I am a senior at Penn State University Park majoring in Agricultural Science. I was born in New York City, but have been raised in Tyrone, Pennsylvania for the last 14 years of my life. Upon graduating from Penn State this spring, I plan on either going into 4-H Extension Education or applying to achieve my Master’s Degree in Agricultural & Extension Education in order to teach in a high school agricultural science classroom. I am taking this course to fulfill a requirement for my minor of International Agriculture, and geography plays a big role in this field. Geography certainly is not my strong point, so I enrolled in this course to help expand my knowledge sand to gain a better understanding of different geographic perspectives.

As someone who has a deep interest in agricultural education, one aspect that I found interesting while completing Module 01 was with the Natural Sciences and how humans impact the environment. We are becoming a more urbanized society, particularly in the United States, and one of the items we tend to overlook is the impact that we are leaving for future generations to deal with later on. Within the next 50 years, we are expected to reach a population of over 7 billion people. How do we plan on feeding this many people? Certainly, we are losing a lot of natural resources as the years progress. We should figure out some possible solutions before we run out of resources for our children.