Published: August 7, 2020

Becoming a Leader, Mentor, and Community Builder

Alert

What I learned in Field youth programs impacts how I teach my students today.

Levi Jenkins smiles for the camera outside the Field Museum.

 By Levi Jenkins, Chicago Public Schools high school English teacher and past youth programs participant 

What neighborhoods and schools do you hail from?

I was born and raised in the Englewood community on Chicago’s South Side. I now reside in the Kenwood neighborhood. For high school, I graduated from Simeon Career Academy in 2014. For my undergraduate education, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a major in English Education in 2018. I am a proud Simeon Wolverine and UIC Flame alumnus.  

How did you get involved in youth programs at the Field?  

I got involved in Field Museum youth programs through my biology class when I was invited by my teacher to attend a Calumet is My Back Yard (CIMBY) field trip to Hegewisch Marsh. Later that summer, I applied and was accepted into the Environmental Leadership teen internship hosted by the Keller Science Action Center. Most recently, I worked with the museum as an Urban Conservation Educator Assistant in the Chicago Green Ambassadors teen internship program. Through these experiences, I learned that I have an incredible capacity to lead and build a community with others to create a better world for everyone.

I’ve used what I learned from my Field Museum experiences to push students’ thinking about their communities. Some values that I take with me into the classroom are the ideas of interdependence and critical thought. 

Levi Jenkins

How have you used what you learned to shape your career? 

I am using the skills I developed in Field youth programs to serve my community and ensure that all students have a caring mentor. I currently teach in Chicago Public Schools as a high school English teacher. I’ve used what I learned from my Field Museum experiences to push students’ thinking about their communities. Some values that I take with me into the classroom that I developed in the youth programs are the ideas of interdependence and critical thought. Everything on Earth—humans, animals, plants, and other natural resources—is interconnected, so that means in order to improve our lives that we must also work together to protect our planet. 

Why would you recommend participating in the Field’s youth programs?

I recommend participating because it is an awesome opportunity to connect with your peers, have fun, and learn new things that broaden your perspective. When I think about my experiences in various Field Museum youth programs, the relationships that I formed with my colleagues changed my life for the better and contributed to my sense of community in Chicago. 

What do you enjoy about nature? 

Some nature hobbies that I enjoy are biking Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, hiking through natural spaces (forest bathing), and exploring nature, plants, and animals in my back yard.