Blogs & Videos: Environment & Conservation

Saving a River from Poison

The Putumayo River is home to some of the purest water in the Amazon basin—but maybe not for long. The huge Amazon tributary forms the border between Colombia and Peru, draining from giant Amazonian forests, orchid-covered peatlands, and, most presciently, soil bearing traces of gold. But mining that gold has the unfortunate side-effect of poisoning the water with mercury.

With an emphasis on culture, a new kind of nature trail emerges along Chicago’s south lakefront

North of the Margaret Burroughs Beach, a Caracol-inspired gathering space with a Mesoamerican hop scotch game will be part of a new trail in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. This will be one of five sites installed in spring of 2016 by teams of artists and community-based organizations whose designs are inspired both by local ecology, as well as the heritage of communities adjacent to the south lakefront.

A Monarch’s View of the City

The iconic monarch butterfly and other pollinators are in trouble.  Monarch butterfly habitat— including milkweed host plants and nectar food sources—has declined drastically throughout most of the United States. Population levels have also exhibited a long-term downward trend, suggesting that loss of habitat is a major factor in monarch declines. Fortunately we can reverse this decline! By adding the plants monarchs need to survive, primarily native milkweed and other native flowers, to home gardens, schools, offices, and farms we can bring back the monarch.

Fifth grade students begin their nature exploration hike during their Mighty Acorns field trip to Eggers Grove.

Spiders, Leaves, and Self: What Children Find Through Nature Exploration

“Millipedes! Look - Spiders! Roly Pollies! Eww! Cool! What is this!?” Almost out of breath, a group of nine fourth graders excitedly gather around a fallen tree, relentlessly exploring every aspect of it with magnifying glasses and their increasingly dirt-covered little hands. Barely a month into my AmeriCorps internship at the Field Museum and I was suddenly in charge of making sure that hundreds of elementary students were having meaningful and educational experiences in nature—something I had never been tasked with before.

From Alaska to Argentina: ReCycling through the Americas

Cyclists Yana Melamed and Vyacheslav (Slav) Stoyanov, who hail from Bulgaria, will call North and South America home for the next two years as they make an exceptional journey from Alaska to Argentina. Slav originally conceptualized their campaign, Cycle 4 Recycle, to highlight the impact humans have on the Earth. The pair will travel 60,000-kilometers (38,000 miles) by bicycle through 26 countries in (they hope) 731 days. On their way, they will experience climates ranging from the bitter cold of the mountains to the damp heat of the rainforests.

Born from the Ashes

You know that part in Game of Thrones where the dragon eggs hatch when they’re put in fire? This is like that, but with a super-endangered flower. Illinois’s only native wildflower, the Kankakee mallow, has been missing from this state for years—it was presumed extinct in its native habitat. But this year, Field Museum scientists and volunteers from the Friends of Langham Island group were able to bring it back. Their secret? Setting fire to the ground where the plants once lived.

Peregrine Falcons Removed from IL Endangered List

Peregrine Falcons have their share of claims to fame—with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour, they’re the fastest animals in the world, and they’ve adapted from living on rocky cliffs to a different kind of “mountain”: Chicago’s skyscrapers.  But in 1951, there were none left in Illinois, and it looked as if the species would be wiped out of North America entirely. Today, thanks largely to the Chicago Peregrine Program headed by The Field Museum’s Mary Hennen, Peregrines are flourishing to the point that they’re no longer in immediate danger.

Voices of Conservation - Viva Yeboah

Viva Yeboah is the Founder of Outdoor Afro Chicago. Born in Georgia and a DePaul graduate in Accounting, a younger Viva Yeboah wouldn't have believed that playing such a huge part in Chicago’s conservation field would be in her future. However, her chapter of Outdoor Afro has changed the outdoor recreation world and challenges the belief that people of color don't partake in the environment and its conservation.

Voices of Conservation - Maritza Rocha

“There is money being spent on preventing kids to get pregnant or not involved in gangs but there’s no money being used to help them reconnect with the surroundings that have created them.”  Dedicated to making sure Pilsen's children have a healthy environment, Maritza Rocha is the Director of Youth Services at Mujeres Latinas en Accion.  A native of Chicago, she grew up in the Pilsen, the lower Westside, and Bridgeport. She attended DePaul University, intending on becoming a lawyer, but the need to bring knowledge to her people was much stronger.

Voices of Conservation - Credell Walls

Credell Walls is a Community Engagement Specialist with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “Having youth go out and do stewardship work, remove an invasive species, making a difference in different areas of their lives, I think it helps them see their life a little better than they did before.” Walls prides himself on creating opportunities for youth. He graduated from DePaul University and is working on his master’s in biology at the University of Miami, he has the ability to show youth how to love the world they live in.

Pages