Hello fellow Lake Maxinkuckee environmentalists!

My name is Mia Wagner, and I am a junior at the University of Notre Dame studying psychology and environmental sustainability. As a lifelong Hoosier from Indianapolis, I am a fan of the Pacers, Colts, and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indy 500 (especially this year since I am a 2022 Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess!). Although I am a sports fan, I love Indiana’s natural wonders even more and have a passion for the environment. For example, I am currently involved in an amphibian research project at Notre Dame, monitoring frog and toad species in South Bend’s Lydick Bog, tracking the ecosystem’s health. 

My love of the environment started when I was young, spending hours outdoors exploring the forest in my neighborhood. My siblings and I caught crawdads in a creek, made forts in the woods, and hunted for Morel mushrooms. I was also lucky for most of my childhood to call the East Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee my summer home, a lake that has held significance to my family for four generations. When I put on goggles and explored the clear waters of Lake Maxinkuckee, I thought I was entering a new world. I swam with the bluegills and water snakes, bathed in the sun with turtles, and hopped around catching frogs on the golf course. 

At Notre Dame, I am studying urgent environmental threats, including those facing freshwater lakes such as invasive species and wetland destruction. I am particularly interested in how people can intervene to mitigate these threats to our environment. As a psychology major, I hope to one day become an environmental psychologist who conducts research and outreach on the most effective measures to limit the environmental consequences of human actions.

This summer I am excited to be a part of the protection of the lake and its surrounding watershed, serving as an intern for the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund. My time will be spent working on a lakeshore classification project, youth activities, blog articles, and outreach events such as Lakefest, the farmer’s market, and a youth camp. 

Fun facts about me:

  • In my role as a 500 Festival Princess, I recently sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” in front of thousands–and on live TV–before the start of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon. Scary!
  • Growing up, I loved animals and convinced my parents to let me have pet guinea pigs, rabbits, a bird, turtles, frogs, dogs, koi fish and even piranhas!
  • I am a member of Notre Dame’s premiere all-female a cappella group, Harmonia