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Growing The Next Generation: Essential Oils, Asiatic Garden Beetles, And Climate Change

Lucy Enge and Kayla Wise
Renee Wilde
Wilmington College students Lucy Enge and Kayla Wise

Before the coronavirus pandemic, County Lines producer Renee Wilde met with faculty and students at Wilmington College in Clinton County and heard their ideas about rural life and the prospects for a career in agriculture.

Clubs like FFA, which stands for Future Farmers of America, serve as both social and educational roles in rural communities. Kayla Wise credits FFA for her decision to pursue an agricultural degree. Kayla also never believed in climate change until she took a class at Wilmington College called Individual and Global Policy.

Lucy Enge was also in that class, and she asks Kayla how it affected her viewpoint on climate change.


LUCY ENGE: My name is Lucy Enge. I’m a student at Wilmington College and I am interviewing my fellow student and friend Kayla Wise.

So we are going to be talking about what it’s like to be in rural communities, and we’ve sort of had this conversation before. I don’t come at all from a farming background, and you come from Pettisville?

KAYLA WISE: I actually grew up in a town called Wauseon, which is ten miles away from Pettisville.

Where I lived, it’s an old people community.

I went to Pettisville which is a school of about 500, so my graduating class was like 47.

I was kinda sucked into FFA and all those experiences that came with it. I decided to become an agronomy major because of FFA, without it I wouldn’t be where I am.

ENGE: You were at dinner the other night and you shared that you are currently doing research involving essential oils and a pest I think it was?

WISE: So the Asiatic Garden Beetle grub is a smaller, brown beetle than the Japanese Beetle.

The beetle, we can also call it the teenage stage, chews through the roots of pretty much any crop, any plant it can eat. There’s not much it doesn’t like to eat. So you can go from a five yard span of 180 bushels per acre down to zero. It is crazy.

So I tested frankincense, eucalyptus, and lemon to see if these essential oils would kill the grubs before they would eat the corn, and I found out that the essential oils did have an effect on the grubs and it ended up killing them.

When I got to college I wanted to continue my research. It’s just a passion now.

ENGE: So we were both in the same Individual and Global Society class last semester, and we ended up talking a lot about climate change in the end.

How do you see climate change affecting rural communities and rural America.

WISE: Before I came to Wilmington I didn’t believe climate change was a thing, cause a lot of the rural community doesn’t quite, I think, believe it yet.

I was thinking about it last night with the Water Justice Symposium for the Westhimer at Wilmington. There was a panel discussion with several local politicians, and then a lot of the people in the room were agriculturalists, and they went at it big time.

The tension in the room was very, very high.

And I regret this now that I didn’t speak up and say, we keep yelling at each other. We’re drowning each other out with our own opinions.

Instead of casting blame, why don’t we all pitch in and find a solution.

And I feel that in the future, and I hope that in the future that will come into effect that we put aside maybe our political views, or essentially what we believe essentially believe wholeheartedly and say, we are destroying our planet, and it is ours together as a whole.

We are not democrat or republican, we are not black or white, we are people who share this planet, and let’s make it whole.

County Lines is WYSO's series on rural life, made possible by a grant from Ohio Humanities. This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Renee Wilde was part of the 2013 Community Voices class, allowing her to combine a passion for storytelling and love of public radio. She started out as a volunteer at the radio station, creating the weekly WYSO Community Calendar and co-producing Women’s Voices from the Dayton Correctional Institution - winner of the 2017 PRINDI award for best long-form documentary. She also had the top two highest ranked stories on the WYSO website in one year with Why So Curious features. Renee produced WYSO’s series County Lines which takes listeners down back roads and into small towns throughout southwestern Ohio, and created Agraria’s Grounded Hope podcast exploring the past, present and future of agriculture in Ohio through a regenerative lens. Her stories have been featured on NPR, Harvest Public Media and Indiana Public Radio.
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