This year, EarthEcho is honored to collaborate with our partners at Friends of Chicago River on their U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to expand the reach and impact of their Chicago River Schools Network and watershed education programming. Using the EarthEcho Water Challenge as a resource, we have teamed up to help provide hands on water quality education programs for students in the Chicago region, and support the educators working with these young water stewards.

Our collaboration on this program kicked off at this year’s Chicago River Student Congress on March 2. This special event brought together over 400 students, teachers, and community members to help educate participants about the Chicago river watershed and connect them to resources to take action to protect this important body of water. The event kicked-off with a keynote presentation by EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council member, and University of Chicago student, Ruby Rorty who helped inspire participants with a message about the critical role young people play in protecting the environment. During the Congress, EarthEcho teamed up with our Water Challenge sponsors at Xylem Watermark, to engage local Morton Grove, IL based Xylem employees in working with Ruby to lead teacher trainings introducing the EarthEcho Water Challenge. These hands-on sessions allowed teachers to learn how to engage their students in water quality monitoring and share their results through the global EarthEcho Water Challenge database.

2019 Chicago River Student Congress Teacher Training

Following the Student Congress, we collaborated with Friends of Chicago River to provide twelve EarthEcho Water Challenge test kits to equip local Chicago student groups with the tools needed to engage in monitoring their local water quality. Students have begun using these kits and sharing their findings through the EarthEcho Water Challenge database. Additional test kit donations will be provided to school groups in the coming months for fall 2019 programming.

Chicago Public School Students utilize EarthEcho Water Challenge test kits to investigate the water quality of the Chicago River Watershed

Our collaboration with Friends of the Chicago River on this initiative also allowed us to bring over 80 2nd grade students from the Nettelhorst School to the Chicago Botanic Garden to engage in the EarthEcho Water Challenge led by volunteer mentors from Baxter International as part of Baxter’s World Environment Week celebrations. This special event allowed students to investigate the health of a branch of the Chicago River watershed, connect with mentors in the STEM field, and learn how their personal actions can help protect local water resources.

Students from the Nettelhorst School test the Water Quality over the Skokie River at the Chicago Botanic Garden with support from Baxter International mentors.

We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Friends of the Chicago River and their collaboration through their U.S. EPA grant to make this programming possible. We look forward to our continued work to empower young water scientists and stewards to protect the Chicago River ecosystem.