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ECO Youth Training Session

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.fs2zRza6.dpuf
Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.fs2zRza6.dpuf

Editor’s Note: The video above was filmed by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

This summer, the Eco Youth reporters really built up our writing and reporting skills as we learned about the issues with managing our environment. Click above to peek in on one of our meetings from this July to learn how we did it!

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Eco Youth Reporters Visit Starved Rock

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following photographs were taken during a fact-finding trip to Starved Rock State Park by the Eco Youth Reporters. The Eco Youths Reporting program was conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and was generously funded by theMcCormick Foundation:

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A River Adventure

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

I can’t swim and I’m afraid of water, so I never would have imagined in a million years that I would ever go kayaking. But right before school began, I got a chance to try it with my fellow Eco Youth Reporters. And it was one of the most rejuvenating experiences in my life.

Our tour guide was Noah Stein with the company Chicago River Canoe and Kayak. He was wonderful and completely understanding but he was really serious about safety and the risks of being on the water. I was sort of reluctant to get in a kayak by myself, so Noah decided it was in my best interest to partner up with Alisha Jacobs, which was a great idea.

Noah went over all the important logistics about kayaking. We had to first pick out single or double kayaks. After we had done that, Noah helped each of us change the gears in the boat for our own comfort. For the ones who were in double boats, we had to decide if we wanted to be a front paddler or a back paddler and gear changer. At first, I thought I wanted to be in the back paddling and changing gears. Then Noah explained that experienced kayakers usually sat in the back because it would be difficult for a beginner to focus on paddling and changing gears. So I was switched to the front.

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The Invasion of the Great Lakes

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.SmjvPLB8.dpuf
tor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation: – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.SmjvPLB8.dpuf

Eco Youth Reporters Tyreshia Black, Antonio Reed, Jasmine Hunt at the reflecting pool at the University of Notre Dame. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

By pulling out a single strand of hair, your DNA instantly becomes environmental DNA or eDNA and this concept may help us save the Great Lakes from the potential devastation of the Asian carp. I didn’t understand this until I met Chris Jerde at the University of Notre Dame on a trip with my journalism classmates.

Jerde’s current job is to extract eDNA from water samples to search for a trace of Asian carp but this process can be used for other things to in the near future. He demonstrated by filtering water through special filters that captured algae and other microorganisms, allowing the eDNA to collect in sterile containers for testing.

“The process we use now will help us find the location of the carp, and in the future this process will help us figure out multiple species of fish,” Jerde said. “How many there are, and where they’re located, which is way better than counting them.”

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Frack Attack in Illinois

by Tyreshia Black 

Anti-fracking activists in Boulder, Colo., during a recent protest. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation. – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.4O2DVbp7.dpuf

The Illinois legislature passed a bill the last week of May that would regulate fracking, the controversial practice for getting natural gas and oil by injecting water and chemicals into shale formations. The bill is being called the strictest package of fracking regulations in the nation. But many people disagree with it. That’s because they think there should be a moratorium or ban on fracking. The bill will become law if Gov. Pat Quinn signs it. Right now there is no fracking in Illinois. But if the bill passes, fracking is expected to start. The bill does have some safeguards but critics say that fracking can never be safe.

Industry, of course, is all for the fracking in Illinois. They say it will bring jobs and needed energy. But concerned activists like Annette McMichael and Beverly Walter disagree with the idea of fracking because they are worried it will cause serious pollution of our drinking water and air. They are backing a proposed bill that would put a moratorium on fracking, which would mean no fracking for the next two years, while more studies are done. That bill was introduced in the state General Assembly by state Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

McMichael is a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE). She has had personal encounters with industry representatives near her home.

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Chicago’s Nuclear History

by Tyreshia Black 

Protestors gather on the 70th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear reaction near the site where it occurred on the University of Chicago campus on Dec. 2, 2012. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

The abstract sculpture by Henry Moore on the University of Chicago campus looks like a soldier’s helmet or maybe a mushroom cloud or a skull. It was created to mark the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, which was done at the university on Dec. 2, 1942. Exactly 70 years later, on Dec. 2, 2012, many people came out to pay their respects at a conference at the University of Chicago.

But there certainly were not as many people as should have come, given what nuclear reactions have meant for our society. Many people were not even aware of the event or the history behind it. I personally never knew of the historical event until I attended the commemoration at the university. Luckily, I had a chance to meet several activists who gave me insight on what is going on and their concerns about nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

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Sit In Against School Closings

by Tyreshia Black 

UYIJP participant Tyreshia Black interviews Chicago teacher Cynthia Smith at a Nov. 2 sit in against school closings. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Teachers, students and many concerned local residents gathered at a rally at City Hall in front of the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Nov. 2 yelling out chants like, “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more” and “Na na na na, hey hey hey, stop closing schools.”
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey, who I interviewed, proclaimed that he was putting those who are causing problems “on notice.” Sharkey meant that those who are making the choice to close schools and lay off teachers and – in his view – deny children the best education will have to face him and many others.
There has been much controversy and protest around Chicago public schools since the Chicago Board of Education, the Mayor’s office and other officials reportedly plan to close about 100 more Chicago public schools that are labeled as under-performing or under-enrolled. Already, many schools have been closed. The Board of Education was supposed to release its list of schools to close on Dec. 1, although the new schools CEO Barbara Bennett-Byrd successfully asked the state legislature for a few more months to make the decision. Meanwhile, parents, teachers and students at the protest said that no public schools should be closed at all. Read more »

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Chicagoans Will Fish, Contamination or Not

by Tyreshia Black 

 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Eco Youth Reporters program, conducted in conjunction with award-winning journalist Kari Lydersen, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood. The Eco Youth Reporters program is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation:

Contaminated fish, sediment and water can be dangerous to one’s health but that doesn’t keep hungry Chicagoans away from the water at Canal Park and the Canal Port River Walk on Ashland Avenue south of Cermak Avenue in the Pilsen neighborhood.

In years past, factories and slaughterhouses used to dump waste in the Chicago River and the canals which connect to it. That contaminated the water and the fish. Pilsen’s coal plant, Fisk, contributes contamination to the water also. It releases lead, mercury, and other contaminants into the air which fall into the river.

Since President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the early 1970s, factories can’t dump waste right into the river and there are limits on what plants and factories can emit into the air. But there is still a strong possibility of water contamination in the Chicago River because the City of Chicago discharges its sewage into the river, about 1.2 billion gallons every day. The sewage and other industrial waste is only partially treated. Starting in 2014, it will be disinfected to kill viruses and bacteria but right now, that is not done. In 2011, the national group American Rivers named the Chicago River one of the country’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers.

And yet people still fish there. We visited the area where the Chicago River meets the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Canal Park on a muggy afternoon in early August. Near a grove of huge trees, I met Scott, a 34-year-old man who asked his last name not be used and who regularly fishes in the shallow, calm water flowing through this spot. I asked him some questions about river contamination and previous factory dumps.

“I’m not for sure if it’s contaminated but I love coming here for the scenery and I love fishing,” said Scott.

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Stray Dogs in Englewood

by Tyreshia Black 

This dog happens to be behind a fence, but many canines roam the Englewood neighborhood off the leash, terrifying pedestrians. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

The dog had white and gray fur, and blue piercing eyes. Its teeth were long and yellow. The ears on its head were perked up. The dog’s face looked angry and determined to kill.

I encountered this dog while walking out of my house on a normal day to school. I was about a block from my home when the dog came around the corner. When I saw him, I quickly stopped walking, attracting his attention. The dog gazed at me, like a wolf staring at a deer in the forest.

As we locked eyes, he made the first move and circled me about three times before he sniffed my leg and shoes. I felt an urge to run but I knew what would happen next – he would kill me.

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Making a college visit count

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

The student editor of Michigan State University's State News shows off recent editions of the publication during a visit this fall to the academic institution's campus. Photo by Tyreshia Black.


Every year, high school students across Chicago start preparing to attend a college or university. The effort is a big undertaking, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many different types of higher education institutions to choose from, and a lot of students don’t know what they’re looking for.

One important way that many students figure out what they want from a college is through a campus visit. During a visit, prospective students tour the campus, talk to professors, and learn about student life.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Tametrius Files, a 16-year-old Simeon High School student who has visited Eastern Illinois University, DePaul University and other schools.

Experts say it is important to make the most out of college visits.

Betty Weinberger, a college consultant at a Glencoe-based company called North Shore College Counseling Services, said in an e-mail interview that students must make realistic and appropriate plans in order to ensure their campus visits are worthwhile.

“You might begin by asking yourself the following questions,” she said. “Do you like a large school or small? Do you want to be in the city in an urban environment or do you prefer a suburban or even small town environment?”

Ms. Weinberger added that students should also think about college activities while on a campus tour as well as their fields of interest.
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