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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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My First Kayaking Trip

by Jasmine Hunt 

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:

On a sunny day in early August, my journalism class and I went on a kayaking trip in the Chicago River. I haven’t been swimming all summer and I am not an experienced swimmer, to say the least, so it was all fun and games until I actually sat in the kayak and the water started to rock my boat.

Noah Stein with Chicago River Canoe and Kayak was our instructor and showed us the correct paddling form and motion. My colleagues and I signed a release form that acknowledged all the dangers, saying the facility would not be held responsible if we acquired any injuries.

Everyone put on their life jackets and had a paddling tutorial. Each person helped one another with taking the kayaks down to the dock to put them out on the water. There were the single-person kayaks and two-person ones. I was in a kayak by myself. Noah held on the side of it as I prepared to enter. The water was hitting the side and I began to rock. You have to get used to the motion.

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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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Asian Carp is a Man-Made Issue

by Jasmine Hunt 

Notre Dame’s environmental scientist Chris Jerde discusses invasive species with the Eco Youth Reporters. 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:

Asian carp was seen as a quick and easy solution to help clean up some fish farm ponds near the Mississippi River. But as they have made their way toward the Great Lakes, they created a whole different issue. The Asian carp has a giant appetite: It eats everything, which means that it changed the food chain and natural rhythm of the rivers and lakes.

Asian carp has been around for awhile. With large mouths and the ability to filter feed, the carp were originally brought from China to clean up the lakes that serve as fish farms in Arkansas. The Arkansas floods in the 1970s caused the fish farms to break open and the Asian carp got into the Mississippi River. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1970 and people were focused on improving the water quality. So people knew Asian carp could be a problem. Asian Carp are found all over the world and there are many in Canada’s water sheds. 

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Pilsen Gets Environmental Justice

by Jasmine Hunt 

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:

Dvorak Park is a very grassy, wide expanse of trees and benches, a playground for young children with an outdoor pool located in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is home to many Mexican immigrants. Rising above the park is the tall, light-colored brick smokestack of the Fisk coal power plant. Next to the smokestack is the red brick building where coal was burned to produce electricity for 109 years.
Since 1903, the plant has provided power for Chicago. And for many years, it was the number one source of pollution in the city, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune.
Jerry Mead-Lucero is a founding member and organizer of the group Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reformation Organization (PERRO). We met with Mead-Lucero in August 2012 on the day after the Fisk power plant had been closed and the Crawford coal-burning power plant a few miles away in the Little Village neighborhood was scheduled to close the next week.
There have been 55 premature deaths each year linked to the power plant, along with hundreds of asthma attacks and people hospitalized because of pollution from the plant, according to a study by a scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. Respiratory issues are frequently caused by coal, fly ash, soot, mercury, lead (which is a neurotoxin) and other particles emitted from the coal plant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

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Preserving History and Ecology

by Jasmine Hunt 

Eco Youth Reporters Jasmine Hunt and David Cal interview a passerby at Harry Palmisano Park. 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:

The Bridgeport and Pilsen neighborhoods on Chicago’s Near South Side are heavily industrial, with factories, highways, railroad tracks and warehouses. The area used to be famous for the stockyards and slaughterhouses depicted in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Bubbly Creek, which runs through the area, got its name from the decomposing bodies of animals from the slaughterhouses.
But in the middle of all this industry there are pockets of nature where people enjoy the outdoors.
On Halsted Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood – home of Mayors Richard M. and his father Richard J. Daley – Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park is an oasis created on a former limestone quarry and landfill. To the north you can see the smokestack of the Fisk coal-burning power plant, which closed down this year. When you enter the park from Halsted, you see limestone boulders where fossils are located. There are also native plants with deep roots that hold large amounts of water in the soil. During rain storms the native plants hold the water and prevent it from flooding or contaminating other areas. A drain pipe sends storm water into a wetland in the park, where the plants clean the water as it filters through. Metal stairs align parts of the park near a pond created by part of the quarry with steep walls. Rabbits and monarchs inhabit the park. Attention-grabbing graffiti on a park wall proclaims “I Love you! Don’t you ever question that” with a big painted heart. 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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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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