About Kate Halligan

Crop Science Major from West Central Illinois. Visiting Puerto Rico for a two week program on sustainable bio-systems.

Blog #3 – Kate

For the actual booth presentation, I hope to make the booth much more interactive; starting with a game similar to the game we presented to students at the University of Mayaguez. After this area I imagine us putting together a multi-section presentation, with each area being screened off from the next to help the viewer focus on the particular section of the booth. Each section would have photos from our trip containing that theme, along with a video on each of the different area themes (water, agriculture, and hiking/rain forest areas). This interaction would allow the viewers to interact with us, along with being able to interact with a visual stimuli that could provoke new thoughts and questions for us.

At the end of the presentation there would be several other of us that would be avaible to answer questions our viewer may have came up with. Alongside us we could also have several of the souvenirs and objects we brought back from Puerto Rico, so that the view could see even more stimuli. After attracting the viewers, we will know how to keep them focused on us, but it will be attracting them initially that could be difficult (especially at the beginning of open house when no one knows what we are); therefore I propose that we also have a blooper reel on a monitor alongside our barkers, in order to attract attention to the booth. This would help to attract attention to the booth, and then we could continue keeping their attention by our speaking and visual displays.

First Time For Everything – Kate (Blog #3)



The amount of surprise Puerto Rico gave me is almost indescribable. Personally, I have never been to a foreign country, I had never been on a plane, and I had never seen an ocean beach or true tropical plants or experienced the humidity and heat of areas closer to the equator; so saying Puerto Rico surprised me is probably a huge understatement. I had no idea what to expect when I came to Puerto Rico, but I basically imagined the typical beach in a movie, some sunshine, and lots of tropical flowers. I guess you could call this a pretty naïve viewpoint when traveling to a foreign country- or blissful ignorance- whichever you prefer.

I think the biggest surprise to me, other than the weather, was the cultural differences of Puerto Rico and the United States. In the states, there’s an uncountable number of different cultures, but in Puerto Rico the culture is more focused. Although Puerto Rico is extraordinarily proud of their culture and country, they have also been very influenced by the United States. Basically everywhere on the island we ran into people that spoke English rather than Spanish, and also really embraced American items alongside their normal culture; this was so different than what I expected, as I didn’t really know how much Spanish or English would be spoken or how much I would really be able to understand.

A huge surprise to me was the difference in beaches around the island, and the difference in weather in different parts of the island. I imagined the weather being pretty much the same all over the island, but I quickly realized that there are dryer areas and wetter areas of the island, correlating with the rainforest, farming areas (plains), and beaches. The weather and different ocean tides also effect the beaches; causing each beach to vary in its roughness, sand quality, and water temperature. I think it was blissful ignorance that made me originally think that all beaches were built the same, but I was very wrong. The second beach we visited near Mayaguez was black sand, and much deeper right off the coast, with darker water in comparison to the third beach we visited. The third beach we visited after snorkeling was white, fine, sand, with shallow waters right off the coast and almost crystal clear water. Due to the differences in the beaches, it also made some more popular to visitors, human and animal, than others.

Another small surprise to me, was larger amounts of agricultural activity than I expected. I knew that the island was a large producer of certain fruits and coffees, but I didn’t realize just how much of the island farming took over. From the forests to the plains, agriculture is a huge industry on the island. Compared to Illinois, agriculture probably takes over more of a percentage of the island that the percentage of the state of Illinois. Each of the areas produces their own specialty crops- Illinois with corn and Puerto Rico with fruits and coffee- but they seem to produce and package their products in the same manner and with the some of the same issues. Both producers are working to preserve the Earth they use, along with making a profit and doing research to further the development of farming across the world. For example, when we visited Martek’s farms on Tuesday, we learned that the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez was working on a similar experiment with Nitrates in the Martek’s fruit trees, as the University of Illinois was doing with their local corn. Each are working on developing similar ideas to further the development of agriculture so that the world will be able to profit long term from their ideas.


Production Differences – Kate (Blog #2)



Puerto Rico’s agricultural production and consumption, in comparison to the United States agricultural industry, really surprised me. In the United States agricultural industry production can tend to be wasteful, with several bi-products, and usually many imported ingredients and items. However, in Puerto Rico, there are very few unused bi-products and close to none really imported items; some items have their own Puerto Rican swing to them- but they all tend to be made on the island.

As we toured a coffee plantation on the island, we were really informed of the real way fine coffee, and also how coffee in the states, is created and sold. Personally I cannot stand coffee- no matter how much cream and sugar is added- however, others within the group could really tell the different between the American coffees that they drink at home, and the coffee sampled at the coffee plantation. The processing of American coffees is much different than the final processing Puerto Rican coffees go through. Puerto Rican coffees go through a quality control of sorts- only the best beans are dried and roasted for use in the coffee production. Meanwhile, the remaining beans are dried and roasted and sent to larger scale American coffee companies that mix all the remnants of their different beans to make their coffees.

Delivery and consumption of the coffee in Puerto Rico is also much different compared to the United States. In Puerto Rico, the coffee beans are usually dried, roasted, and then sent straight off to be sold within different areas of the island where they are processed into coffee. The coffee produced on the island is generally fresher with a higher quality taste, compared to low grade United States coffee. American coffee also tends to be more processed ahead of delivery, and since it is older, it tends to be less tasteful. This could easily be applied to the Engineering Open House through a game, or just a coffee comparison tasting in one of the sections for the adults (since somehow I feel as if the younger attendees would not be so interested). Each coffee has their own unique qualities and taste, and it would be an interesting experience for the exploring patrons to be able to realize this in an interactive way.

Many items in Puerto Rico found in local restaurants, kiosks and stands are locally produced on the island; however this does not mean that the items on islands are made exactly how the “same” items in the United States are made. For a prime example, something as simple as scrambled eggs look quite different in Puerto Rico vs America. American scrambled eggs are made with only eggs, butter, and salt, usually, and stirred so that they make little clumps of eggs. The American eggs are highly contrasted by the Puerto Rican eggs that usually contain some sort of meat or cheese and tend to be cooked more like how an omelet would be made, and then chopped into stringy pieces. A huge difference in food, is also the sandwiches that tend to be made with a thinner bread, and almost always toasted unless you say otherwise. Although the American food industry and the Puerto Rican food industry are very similar, there are small differences in the industries that make them unique.

For the most part, I feel like the differences in between Puerto Rico and America are superficial; just a cultural and language class between countries. On a normal basis, both areas work the same way, just with different plants- which need different methods of farming in order to produce and turn a profit for the farmer. I believe the goals of both the farmers of America and Puerto Rico are similar:  feed the world and take care of their families; and I believe they accomplish that through their hard work in the fields to produce the crops and money they need to be successful in their goals.

Role In The Project – Kate


Hello all!

My name is Kate, and unlike my peers, I am a Crop Science major with a concentration in Plant Bio-technologies and Molecular Biology. I am super excited to be able to come to Puerto Rico and lend my new perspective to the group. Since I am not an engineering student, I feel like a big part of my role in the project is to be able to lend the group my knowledge and experience with many different types of crops and explain there effects on the environment. I hope to also learn a lot from my peers about engineering and the science behind it.

  • Kate Halligan
Me on the famous Morrow Plots of the Crop Science department at the University of Illinois.

Me on the famous Morrow Plots of the Crop Science department at the University of Illinois.