This November, Students at the Environmental Adventurers program at Austin College and Career Academy took a trip to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago Illinois! Students joined with the museum’s own team of teen interns to gather interesting data on the chemical composition and invertebrate diversity of the beautiful ponds and streams surrounding the museum. One stream was even connected to our own Lake Michigan, a major freshwater source for the Midwest United States. Students learned the methods and procedures top researchers all around the world use to monitor our waters and keep them safe from hazardous chemicals and invasive species.
After the work was done, students prepared their own data to enter the museum’s database. This way professional researchers can view the data gathered by our students on a specific day, and compare it to every other data point previously collected. This allows them to notice trends and changes in the water’s composition. Once the work was completed, students relaxed with lunch with the Peggy Notebaert Interns, toured the museum (the butterfly room was a blast!), and even sampled some organic chili and seasonal apple cider at the Peggy Notebaert farmers market.
Back in Austin after the holiday, students reflected on what we were thankful for in their lives and refocused on our long-term goals. We created a vision board, decorated with images of the dream jobs and goals of the students. One student put up an image of a veterinarian holding a dog. “I want to be a vet because I love animals, and I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid” said one sophomore, A freshman put up images of a professional audio mixer. “I can’t sing or play an instrument, but I know what sounds good. I have been playing with audio mixing for years on my computer.”
Students were also thankful for our at-risk wildlife. On GivingTuesday, Students prepared small presentations presenting 5 fun facts, the location, and scientific name of their favorite endangered animals. From the distant Asian Elephant to the local Red Wolf population students were taught about how these animals got on the endangered species list and how they may find their way out.
Written by: Kyle Reid