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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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Shedd Aquarium Showcases Invasive Species

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever 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:

An Asian Carp. Photo by Tyreshia Black.

I got a chance to visit the legendary world of wonders at the Shedd Aquarium recently. The aquarium holds multiple exhibits of all types of fascinating animals. When my colleagues, journalism teacher and I arrived at the aquarium, we were introduced to Melissa Kruth, the public relations manager and Jillian Braun, a new intern. The two polite employees walked us through the huge crowds of busy people trying to view the beautiful creatures in each exhibit.

Braun and Kruth directed us to Kurt Hettiger, the senior aquarist at the Shedd Aquarium. He has worked there for approximately 19 years, two years as an intern and 17 years as a full-time employee. Hettiger has been working with mainly invasive species and endangered native animals including fish. Invasive species have been invading and intruding into large open areas of Lake Michigan. The most recent invasive fish categorized as an invasive species is the big head carp, which is a kind of Asian carp.

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Little Village Toxic Tour

by Makylia Anderson 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever 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:

The smoke stacks of the Crawford coal plant in Little Village look like giant chimneys. This is one of many pollution sources in Little Village, a small, mostly Mexican neighborhood on the Southwest Side that is affected by a lot of pollution and where finding a job is very hard.

Eco Youth reporters Makylia Anderson and Tyreshia Black reporting in Little Village. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

During a “Toxic Tour” with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), we saw different polluting industries including MRC, a plastics recycling plant that melts down car bumpers and other things. LVEJO has had many meetings about MRC.

Many people report breathing problems and there are also high rates of cancer, according to LVEJO, in the area around MRC and another facility, Meyer Steel Drum.

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The Health Effects of Pollution in Pilsen

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever 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:

Parents gathered in Pilsen on May 11 at the Casa Aztlan Community Center, 1831 S. Racine, to get information on how to try to keep their children safe from lead poisoning and other sources of pollution in the Near Southwest Side neighborhood.

People at the meeting were extremely concerned about lead from the smelter H. Kramer and also about particles and other pollution from the Fisk coal burning power plant. Doctors and city health officials were also there.

Chicago public health department doctor Cortland J. Lohff informed the audience that lead is a dangerous compound that can cause poisoning depending on dosage. Children ages six months to six years old are most likely to get lead poisoning, according to Lohff. When they play in parks and playgrounds where there are high levels of lead in the soil, it can easily get into their systems and cause brain damage and behavioral problems.

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Lead and Coal Plants in Pilsen

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our first-ever 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:

A coal-fired power plant in the Pilsen neighborhood. Photo by Kari Lydersen.

On May 11, angry and disappointed residents gathered at Casa Aztlan in Pilsen to hear about the risks from the Fisk coal plant and the H. Kramer brass smelter in their neighborhood.

Forty deaths a year and 550 emergency room visits are caused by Fisk and the city’s other coal plant in Little Village, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The coal plants were “grandfathered” in under the Clean Air Act that was signed in 1970. Grandfathered means it’s been there for a long time so it doesn’t have to equal up to the same standards as coal plants built these days.

Now a law is proposed that 25 aldermen are supporting which could force the power plants to shut down. The group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) is trying to pass the ordinance.

At the meeting, residents said Ald. Danny Solis should stick to his promises since he won the run-off election in April after promising he would shut down the coal plants, or force them to clean up their emissions.

People at the meeting loudly questioned why Solis was not there personally and yelled at the representative he had sent, Steve Stults. They were treating him badly because they didn’t want him there, they wanted the alderman. Raker said Solis could not attend because of a scheduling conflict but is very committed to the issue.

Stacy Raker, a spokesperson for Solis, said the alderman will definitely keep his promise and that the ordinance will be reintroduced in City Council on July 28.

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Environmental Journalism Program Image Gallery

by Quintana Woodridge 

For the past few weeks, Chicago youth involved in the Eco Youth Reporters program, funded by the McCormick Foundation, have explored global environmental issues on a local level. They interviewed local experts on topics ranging from coal plants to the dangers of invasive fish species. Under the guidance of award-winning reporter Kari Lydersen and Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, these journalists are learning to effectively cover the larger environmental issues and spread awareness within the Chicago community through print stories, photography and video documentation.

Tyreshia Black snags invasive zebra mussels. (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

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