Proviso East High School students have become a part of the Cook County Forest Preserve Keeper Corps by adopting a piece of land to call their own.
Nearly 50 high schools in Cook County have adopted a Forest Preserve site. Students use the preserve for learning, exploration, and to do their part in conserving the environment.
"There are about 68,000 acres of Forest Preserve in Cook County," said Cassie Hatszfeld of the Forest Park Preserve. "We depend on volunteers like the students at Proviso East to help us take care of the land and improve the habitat by doing litter clean-up and restoration. Students learn team work, they learn how to help improve their community, and they also do a great deal for the environment."
At a minimum, Proviso East students will commit to assisting with removing litter four times per year. Some volunteer groups help remove graffiti and maintain trails and facilities. But Mrs. Michelle Lucas-Duckins, who spearheaded the adoption project, has a different idea for her science classes. She hopes to turn their preserve site into a learning ground for science lessons to teach students about the environment and biology.
"If we participate in activities of preservation such as cleaning up the forest preserve we could create a positive change in our community and environment while also identifying the biotic and abiotic factors that affect our ecosystem," said Duckins.
Students say even though they've only visited their adopted site twice, they've already learned a lot.
"I learned that our environment needs a lot of help and that we are more than capable of helping," said Proviso East Freshman Terrance Sheppard. "It also helped me get a better understanding of biology and the process of decomposition in the carbon cycle."
"We learned more about why some species are at risk of losing their habitat," said Proviso East Freshman DeVante Finley. "And I got a better understanding of animal decomposition."
Proviso East Freshman Efrain Arredondo said, "I learned that we shouldn't be killing our ecosystem because our behavior affects everybody, especially the animals that live there. We should remember that every time you throw your garbage in the forest you are hurting yourself."
The students say they will do all they can to help preserve their adopted site. They will keep their commitment to the new site for two years.
** Special thanks to Crispy's Philly Steak Inc. on 5th Avenue in Maywood for supplying the Proviso East Students with food while they were out taking care of their newly adopted site.