Name: Kacper Mierzejewski
School: College of DuPage
Kacper, an Addison Trail High School graduate, is relatively new to Friends of the Forest Preserves, but he is quite familiar with the conservation field. For the past year and a half, Kacper has been an active volunteer at Busse Woods. Kacper was first introduced to the conservation field when he went on a volunteer high school field trip to Busse Woods during his junior year of high school. During that field trip, Kacper was introduced to Matt Haas, the steward of Busse Woods and a Friends’ board member. After that trip, Kacper remained in touch with Matt and continued to volunteer at the site. Matt was impressed with Kacper’s work and suggested that Kacper should apply for the summer internship with Friends.
Kacper has excelled in his work since day 1 at the training, and according to his crew leaders, Kiley and Julia, Kacper has continued to be a stellar crew member all summer long. His previous experienced has helped him and his crew carry out high quality work and projects. Kacper is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a crew member this summer. Kacper believes that youth programs like this one are very beneficial to not only the participants, but to their community and environment as well. Through this program, he has gained more knowledge in respect to conservation and other environmental education topics, and he has also gained experience in the field through hands-on work. Kacper said he will surely share his knowledge with people in his community. Kacper thinks that it is very important to help build the next generation of people with a more “green” mentality, and this program has certainly done that for him and his crew. He said that this program helps “educate, inspire, and preserve the environment.” When asked if he would recommend this program to other students, his immediate answer was yes. His reasoning is that “you get to meet great people, visit great places, and it’s just a blast working here.”
His advice to future CCLC members:
1. If the nature center doesn’t have mosquito nets, get them!
2. Don’t get over confident and not use your helmet.
3. Try to keep a positive attitude at all times. “Some days will be more fun than others, but having a positive attitude goes a long way.”
So what’s next for Kacper?
Kacper plans to spend the following two weeks biking, working out at the gym, playing Frisbee, hanging out with some friends and also catching up on some shows. After these two weeks, Kacper will start his first year of college at College of DuPage. He plans to get involved by volunteering at forest preserves near his college and he will also continue to volunteer at Crabtree and Busse Woods. Kacper will pursue an associate’s degree in science, and then he will pursue a career in the medical field and minor in an environmental related field at either Loyola University or Benedictine University.
By: Eduardo Paz, Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps Apprentice Crew Leader
Eduardo Paz is currently an undergrad student at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in computer engineering. Eduardo first got involved with conservation work during his freshman year of high school at Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School. He volunteered at Camp Sagawau with the Associated Colleges of Illinois at a volunteer week hosted by the Student Conservation Association (SCA). After that, he kept in contact with Sam Vergara, who was the program coordinator for the SCA at the time. He then became a crew member for the SCA’s year round program up until his senior year of high school. For the past two summers, he has been an apprentice crew leader teaching environmental education lessons to the high school crew members in the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps Program. He plans to continue to enhance his knowledge in the conservation field and continue to carry out restoration work by becoming a new addition to the Friend’s Forest Preserve Leadership Corps internship.Tags: Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps, internship, Restoration