Lincoln-Way East students make a difference in their own backyard
Thursday, October 6, 2016

On Wednesday, October 5, teacher Patricia Nugent’s wildlife class took a field trip into their own backyard. Hickory Creek Preserve is located north of Lincoln-Way East High School, providing students with opportunities to learn actively about nature while helping preserve the forest.

This is the first year Lincoln-Way has offered a wildlife class to students. “I want to challenge students in my new wildlife class at Lincoln-Way to change their perception of Will County,” says Nugent. “It is fine and grand to be concerned about the habitat loss or species elimination in places like the rainforest, but these issues have a major impact locally as well. I want to open their eyes to the wonders that they drive by every day and to know that habitat loss exists here.”

Before entering the preserve, students received a brief introduction and lesson by Angie Opiola of the Forest Preserve District of Will County. Students learned the process of identifying the plant species for removal, how to properly use the tools for removal, and the purpose behind their mission. Students took a full class period to remove invasive plants, including multiflora rose and honeysuckle. Floyd Catchpole and Judith Wallace were also present from the Forest Preserve District of Will County; along with Opiola, they aided students in their task.

Nugent believes this class is vital to teach students about the impact humans have on the environment. “The DNR website lists 79 threatened and endangered species located in Will County, Illinois,” she says. “My students can have an impact and actually improve habitat within our local area. By removing invasive species in our area, like the students did today, they help native species to thrive.”

Nugent also hopes students develop their passion for wildlife to explore careers that will allow them to make a difference in the world. “There are some great careers in the agricultural area that relate to wildlife, like restoration specialists, environmental compliance officers, or even the rewarding career of teaching.”

The Lincoln-Way Agriculture Department aims to provide unique and relevant experiences that relate to real world issues.