GREEN times in Iceland by Samantha Goldberg, Agricultural and Biological Engineering major, Environmental Engineering minor


Posted: January 26, 2016

I didn’t just travel to Iceland, I learned, I lived, I found my passion.
First Hydro Plant in Reykjavik

First Hydro Plant in Reykjavik

Agriculture has always been a passion of mine.  When I was young, I attended a 4-H sleep-away camp and worked on the farm every section I could get. As I grew up, I got a job at the camp and was the farm instructor. As I became more passionate about it, I became the nature instructor. As the nature instructor I would teach children how to use the world in a more sustainable way. This would mean I would teach them how to be more self-sufficient and use the Earth around them to provide their necessary nutrition.

This study abroad opportunity changed my life. It taught me how to have a more open outlook on life and to think outside of the box. We were faced with current problems and tested to think of them in an environmental friendly way to fix them.  I was fortunate enough to go to Iceland with a program called the GREEN program. During this program, we attended classes at Reykjavik University learning about hydro-power, geothermal energy, solar power, and biodiesel. This experience helped me to learn about different ways be greener.  Each day we visited different power plants and saw hands-on examples of how Iceland implements the green energy.  This bettered my undergraduate career because I do research at Penn State with biodiesel.  I got to see a large scale canola oil press in action. At Penn State, we work with a small-scale press so it was very interesting to see a large scale one and how it is used to power local homes in a small town.

I chose to visit Iceland because it is run with 100% green energy. It is the only country to mostly support itself with geothermal energy.   Iceland looked at the future and made it an achievable goal. It was amazing to see how reliable geothermal energy is and how Iceland continues to dig deeper and drill further to make more places go green.

This experience has already benefited me. I noticed that I am looking at more agricultural and sustainable solutions to living. In Iceland, we did a capstone project. My project was making a hydroponic greenhouse to grow crops for low-income communities. When I got home, I saw a Penn State start up using aero-ponics to grow crops. I have been doing more research about how to get involved and make this capstone idea into a reality.  I didn’t just travel to Iceland, I learned, I lived, I found my passion.

This trip taught me people skills, leadership, problem solving and teamwork. As we were hiking up the side of a glacier in zero degree weather with hail coming down, this experience helped us bond and form a family like dynamic in order to survive the tough conditions we were being faced with. I learned how communicate in frightening terrain and to always remain calm.