Green Day, a win-win for students, Northbrook Park District


Northbrook School District 28 Press Release:

September 10, 2021

A community partnership was rekindled when seventh grade students from Northbrook Junior High spent a morning learning about the ecology of their own backyard.

Techny Prairie Park, maintained by the Northbrook Park District, is a short distance from the school and was the site of the half-day excursion in early September for many years. After a year-long COVID hiatus, the students were back on September 3, and the park district couldn’t be happier.

Students go through four stations. They research vertebrae and invertebrates in river water samples, test pond and river water for pH and oxygen, remove invasive species from the prairie, and discuss conservation.

“I’m glad that (the park district) was able to welcome us so warmly and tell us that we are so valuable to their operation,” said Mark Frye, the science teacher who hosted the event.

The restoration of the prairies has had a lasting impact on the site, said Chris Ryerson, Northbrook Park District Lands Supervisor. “Even if it’s only a few hours of work, (the students) manage to take away the value of a van of unwanted plants. One of the main invasive plants we eliminate is purple loosestrife. A plant can produce up to ‘to 500,000 seeds, so removing them is very important,’ he said.

Science teacher Amber Paull ran the vertebrae / invertebrate station, where students analyzed water taken from the river a few feet away. This year, several crayfish were found in the samples. “Have you seen the crayfish?” she asked the students. “You don’t see many small creatures this year because crayfish are big vertebrae and eat all the smaller ones. It means the river is very healthy because crayfish don’t survive in polluted water.”

The day also leaves a lasting impact on the students, many of whom visit the park recreationally.

“I didn’t know what exactly was here,” said Mariella Popelmayer, looking up from the crayfish in a plastic bin. “It was fun to test the water.”

Owen Weintraub said he would look at the purple flowers that stain the meadow differently. “They said they were pushy.” “We collected three buckets of it,” added his classmate Lukas Erdbeer.

This press release was produced by Northbrook School District 28. The views expressed herein are those of the author.

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