24 middle school students attending Carpentersville Conservation Camp
It is often thought that one of the best ways to secure the future of anything is to educate our children.
For that reason, 24 middle school students will set their skateboards, video games and pool passes aside for the last week in July and bring their enthusiasm and open minds to the Carpentersville Conservation Camp.
The program was developed and will be taught by Dundee-Crown High School environmental science teacher Gary Swick, who is also a board member of the Friends of the Fox River. The students will meet at Carpentersville Middle School and then travel in vans to visit local resources and meet the professionals who manage them.
"What we're looking at is how we impact the environment and how we can be better stewards," said Swick.
"We'll be looking at how we obtain, use, and dispose of our water. We will measure water quality. We'll probably go to the water purification plant and the wastewater treatment plant in Carpentersville. We'll go to some local creeks to test the water quality.
"We'll probably do some paddling in the Fox River. We'll look at Raceway Woods and its cultural and natural history. We'll do some restoration work there. We'll do some clearing of invasives and planting of natives."
One of their tasks will be to conduct biodiversity censuses in the field, prairie, and woodlands. Using straight lines, transect lines, square meter quadrants, or even hula hoops, they will be asked what they would be likely to find there and look for signs of that. For example, where a woodpecker has been feeding on a tree, where there is a squirrel's nest, or where there is evidence of beaver.
Another focus of the camp is to present different career opportunities in environmental science. Students will meet and talk to a variety of professionals on site. They are planning to meet a representative from the Kane County Health Department who will show them how to set up mosquito traps to search for carriers of the West Nile virus. They will track the path of drinking, sanitation and storm water from origin to destination with pros from the village of Carpentersville's Public Works department. The will also hear from restoration, recycling, and land management professionals.
"We try and meet professionals in the field so they can see the many different directions you can go," said Swick.
The program, which is free to the students, begins with breakfast as they prepare for the day.
"We usually start the day presenting some concepts. And then we go in the field and apply those concepts. So with water, for instance, we would ask is water a precious resource, why do we need to protect it and how do we use water. Then we'll go and follow its pathway," said Swick.
The day concludes with lunch back at CMS and some journal writing with reflections on the day's lesson.
Swick has presented this camp in the past, and is starting to see some the middle school students that participated in the halls at Dundee-Crown High School. He hopes the camp experience leads them to his environmental science classes.
"It's program building," Swick said. "I think they enjoy seeing the different places and doing all of the hands on things."
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