By: Susie Schreiber
Several years ago the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group (CAG) was asked by Dr. Elena Kusevanova, a leading hydrobiologist from Irkustk State University in Siberia, as to what useful methods we use in the Waukegan Area of Concern (AOC) to both remediate and protect our portion of the Lake Michigan watershed. Dr. Kusevanova was interested in this information because, like the Great Lakes of the U.S., Lake Baikal (near Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia) contains about 20% of the world’s fresh water and is being threatened by industrial and other forms of pollution.
We responded with a quick email describing the work of the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes National Program Office of the U.S. EPA and that of the Waukegan CAG. This immediately peaked Dr. Kusevanova’s interest and it prompted her to visit the U.S. to gather more information. Since that time several other visits back and forth have taken place. Site visits to Lake Michigan AOCs, meetings with many governmental and non-governmental organizations working on the restoration of the Lake Michigan watershed, and presentations to school classes were included in the partnership visits.
The recurring idea that kept surfacing during Dr. Kusevanova’s visits was how to enable students in Lake Baikal and around Lake Michigan to learn about each other’s rich ecological resources and the various means of protecting them for future generations.
A working Partnership Agreement was signed between the Baikal Ecological Network and the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group at the end of the first visit. Schools signed on to participate in Lake Baikal and in the Waukegan area over the past two years.
Waukegan area school students have enthusiastically embraced active participation events in dunal research and studies, river and lake shore clean up events, hands on water and sediment studies on research ships such as the W.G. Jackson and all of the presentations by Dr. Kusevanova and local researchers to their schools.
Educational materials have been prepared by scientists in Lake Baikal for use by Lake Michigan students, and we have sent quantities of useful watershed studies material to Lake Baikal for use in their formal and informal environmental work in the schools and groups. Dr. Kusevanova spent three days last April out on the lake near Waukegan observing classes working with the Grand Valley State University’s W.G. Jackson staff. The students go online to research their topics, identify lakewide and local remediation issues, select active local projects to work on, and personally invite speakers knowledgeable about their study areas to the classroom. The class hopes to have a small local conference in April convening students from each of the schools to present and discuss their work.
As a result of their cleanup work at a creek near their school, the students identified a small parcel of property at the edge of their playground which borders the creek. They are now working with the County and Park District to use tax maps to see if they can purchase this steep ravine for a water science study area for their school.They have a verbal agreement with the Illinois Audubon Society to help with the funding should the property become available for purchase.
These students are the future voters who will be making a difference on the environmental legislation in the United States in just eight short years. They are learning the tools now that will enable them to make thoughtful and educated decisions regarding water, air, and land-use in their communities during their lifetimes. The Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group is pleased to assist them. Please join these students in their efforts to link up with other students lake-wide.
You may contact the Hyde Park Elementary School students by emailing:
Susie Schreiber, Chair Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group firstname.lastname@example.orgYour inquiries and letters will be printed out and forwarded to Mrs. Asma’s students. We all look forward to hearing from some other classes in the Lake Michigan basin.
The Waukegan Harbor Citizens‚ Advisory Group (CAG), founded in August of 1990, is an environmental grassroots group that is dedicated to fostering among the public a sense of responsibility for restoring and maintaining the ecological integrity of the Waukegan Area of Concern (AOC). Our mission is to promote a lakeshore environment for the public to use and enjoy in recognition that public access to the lakeshore will significantly benefit both the economy and the citizens of Waukegan.
Susie Schreiber, Chair ,
Waukegan Harbor Citizens‚ Advisory Group
PO Box 297 • Waukegan, IL 60079
(847) 835-2517 • email@example.com
The Great Lakes Jr. Science Corps is evolving out of the work that has been accomplished to date, and is being implemented in Lake Baikal and Waukegan schools as of October 2003. Partnership classrooms assign students to the following research teams:
Lake Michigan Federation: Serving as Hub Coordinator is Joel Brammeier
220 S. State Street, Suite #1900 • Chicago, IL 60604
PH: (312) 939-0838 ext 4 • FX: (312) 939-2708
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.lakemichigan.org