On Monday, June 11, Project Exploration convened a diverse and vibrant group of people to discuss recommendations for high-quality environmental science experiences for youth in Chicago. The convening was the kick-off event for Project Exploration’s Chicago Cross-Pollinator Project (CCPP), funded by the Hive Chicago Learning Network project through the SMART Chicago Collaborative.
Through CCPP, Project Exploration is growing its environmental science Pathway for Chicago public school students, starting with a pilot Environmental Adventurers program where youth will engage in local pollinator ecology research. As Project Exploration develops this program, some critical questions came to mind: What are the experiences that matter most for young people? What is the important research that environmental scientists are doing now? How do we make environmental science programs accessible to all students – particularly minority youth and girls in Chicago?
To help answer these questions, our convening on Monday brought together a small group of researchers, university professors, educators, and youth. Through discussion and problem-solving, the group came up with a set of recommendations based on the experiences and viewpoints of scientists, youth, and educators. It was a fantastic opportunity for shared dialogue and for reflection on different points of view. Ultimately, we came up with a shared vision for what matters most for young people in Chicago engaging in environmental science.
Why was this convening so special? When we talk about science programs for youth, the voices of both scientists and youth are often absent. Yet scientists and researchers are in the best position to inform us about the work that is most important, and the skills and tools that are critical to their work. Youth – particularly students that do not have regular access to high-caliber science activities – can tell us what they need to feel supported in meaningful ways. Bringing together individuals around this work can help connect an otherwise fragmented learning environment for youth.
Check out some pictures of the amazing collaboration here, courtesy of DePaul graduate student, Daris Jasper.
There’s still work to do! Be on the lookout for a set of actionable recommendations for environmental science programming for youth – particularly minorities and girls!
A special thank you to all the participants:
- Amaris Alanis Ribiero – Project Exploration
- Pam Barrett – Project Exploration
- Jehad Broderick – Project Exploration alumnus and urban planning student at University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
- Dr. Michael Bryson – Roosevelt University
- Chrissy Cabay – Shedd Aquarium
- Adrienne Curry – Career and Technical Education, Chicago Public Schools
- Janelle Curtis – Olive-Harvey College, City Colleges of Chicago
- Liza Fischel - North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago Park District
- Dr. Kimberly Gray – Northwestern University
- Christian Greer – Hive Chicago and Chicago Community Trust
- Daris Jasper – DePaul University
- Dr. Seth Magle – Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo
- Dr. Akilah Martin – DePaul University
- Laura Milkert - Field Museum
- Devonte Moore – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum TEENS program
- Paige Ponder – Project Exploration
- Dr. Emmanuel Pratt – Chicago State University and Sweet Water Foundation
- Dr. Sarah Richardson – DePaul University
- Rafael Rosa – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Dr. Kathleen St. Louis – Project Exploration
- Peggy Salazar – Southeast Environmental Task Force
- Dominique Sanders – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum TEENS program
- Christina Timmins – Hive Chicago
- Rebecca Tonietto – Northwestern University & Chicago Botanic Garden
- Del VanAllen – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum TEENS program