CCL students come from many communities throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. They form lasting friendships as they share life-changing experiences and work towards common conservation goals.
Below are a few comments from past program participants, with links to more detailed profiles and recollections.
“These three weeks [of the summer experience] were the best three weeks of my life. If anyone has the opportunity to go to this program, you would probably want to stay here for the rest of your life.”
- Chris, CCL Certificate Program participant
To read more about Chris’ experience, please click here
Chris: A Lifetime Opportunity
Chris summed up his summer experience with CCL:
“These three weeks were the best three weeks of my life. If anyone has the opportunity to go to this program, you would probably want to stay here for the rest of your life.”
“In the first couple of days, you might not be so excited but then you do and learn stuff that most people would not do in a lifetime. We went to the highest bluff I’ve been on, known as Devil’s Lake. Then we went on the KIYI [a USGS research vessel on Lake Superior] that would be impossible for me to ever go on.”
“The program is to learn a lot about leadership and it is really important to know teamwork. We also know how to kayak and canoe and know a lot about limnology. We learned how to sample water quality and we get this experience from the program known as the Center for Conservation Leadership. So I recommend that you go out and look for this opportunity.”
When Chris participated in CCL he was a freshman at Round Lake High School in Round Lake, IL. In his application to the program, Chris expressed anxiety about spending three weeks outdoors and away from home. He wrote, “I would like to take a break from video games and see how it is without it…three weeks away from my parents–that’s going to be hard.” Following the summer program, Chris took his family to several of the places he visited with CCL in Wisconsin and now spends his time outdoors on his school’s football team.
“Being placed in an environment with different people from different places, well, it’s scary. But if there is one lesson that I will take back with me it’s knowing that people can be so different but so alike at the same time… we can share so much.”
- Klarizsa, CCL Certificate Program participant
To read more about Klarizsa’ experience, please click here
Klarizsa: Outside My Comfort Zone
Klarizsa reflected on her summer experience:
“Starting from day one my comfort zone was being pushed. I mean being placed in an environment with different people from different places, well, it’s scary. But if there is one lesson that I will take back with me it’s knowing that people can be so different but so alike at the same time… we can share so much.”
It’s easy to be friendly but even then trust is a hard thing to give. Quickly but steadily as we continue to experience new things and our comfort zones continue to be pushed further and further, I grow and give more trust to my new friends at CCL.”
Klarizsa was a sophomore at St. Martin de Porres in Waukegan when she participated in CCL. A stand-out student, she has received her school’s Principal’s Achievement Award as well as the People for Others award for her outstanding commitment to volunteering. During the school year, Klarizsa works as an intern at the Chicago Botanic Garden. As Klarizsa pointed out in her application essay, “with generations like mine being raised as such great consumers of our planet’s resources, the ambition to preserve and positively influence our environment might not be possible, unless people take charge and make differences everywhere.”Her interest in and contributions to the environment continued to grow as she organized an Earth Day celebration for her school.
“I am especially interested in participating in research and was blown away by the opportunities I have had through CCL to study water, environmental issues and help with service projects. This is amazing opportunity to learn more about the environment and how to protect it.”
- Royce, CCL Certificate Program participant
To read more about Royce’s experience, please click here
Royce: A Lifetime of Environmental Involvement
Royce has been working in the natural environment as long as he can remember. He began by accompanying his grandmother, a Lake Forest Open Lands volunteer with the Volunteering Open Lands Education Stewards (V.O.L.E.S.)program, when he was very young. He quickly put his love of reptiles and animals to work at the Wildlife Discovery Center.
He has taken classes there since he was five and volunteered since 2nd grade, gradually working up the ranks in responsibility. He currently leads tours and helps teach younger and visiting children about the reptiles and their habitat. Not afraid of hard work, Royce feeds, exercises and cleans up after the reptiles and has become knowledgeable and an invaluable resource to the WLDC.
Through scouting and his family, Royce has spent much time in the outdoors, exploring nature. So when he joined the CCL program, his knowledge and enthusiasm helped the students who didn’t have his same comfort level. This early leadership was noticed and appreciated by all. Royce writes, “I am especially interested in participating in research and was blown away by the opportunities I have had through CCL to study water, environmental issues and help with service projects. This is amazing opportunity to learn more about the environment and how to protect it.”
Royce attends Lake Forest High School and continues his volunteer work with the Wildlife Discovery Center. He remains active in scouting and has participated in a wide variety of outdoor programs and adventures. He is always happy to share his knowledge of the environment and reptiles with others. Now inspired by Royce’s commitment, his grandmother and his mother continue their involvement with the environment as V.O.L.E.S.
“Working hard for something you love, like the environment, is worth it! You can make a difference if you just believe.”
- Yocelin, CCL Certificate Program participant
To read more about Yocelin’s experience, please click here
Yocelin: When You Believe
Dangling above the trees on the High Ropes course, Yocelin’s smile is wide as she soars like an eagle. No one would ever know that she had a fear of heights and that she is challenging herself and winning.
Despite her diminutive size, Yocelin charged ahead on every CCL adventure, often encouraging others with her friendly manner and can-do attitude. Yocelin writes of her summer experience with CCL, “It made me stronger because it showed me that no matter what your height or background you can do everything. Working hard for something you love, like the environment, is worth it! You can make a difference if you just believe.”
Yocelin’s enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors and her tenacity in overcoming her fears made everyone smile as she met each challenge she faced.
Now a sophomore at Highland Park High School, Yocelin has participated in Lake Forest Open Lands summer programs since she was in 6th grade. She looked forward to returning each summer to expand her knowledge and have more fun outside. Yocelin’s younger sister, Wendy, is now a camper in the LFOLA Eco-Expedition camp, hoping to follow in her sister’s adventurous spirit.
“Here in the cool shade under the old tree, these leaves look brown. A familiar brown. A brown that is telling of the world changing from the warmth of summer to the deep freeze of winter.”
- Part of a creative writing project by Amanda, CCL Certificate Program participant
To read more about Amanda’s experience, please click here
Amanda: An Effective and Enthusiastic Leader
Amanda hopes that her experience with CCL will help her learn how to preserve the land and meet other people who care about the earth as much as she does. She participated in the Youth Environmental Symposium at Ryerson Woods as a CCL student and wrote in its creative writing seminar:
“Here in the cool shade under the old tree, these leaves look brown. A familiar brown. A brown that is telling of the world changing from the warmth of summer to the deep freeze of winter. Pretty soon white will cover the green of the grass and the brown of the leaves. For now we can enjoy this transition. The crunch when we step. The smell as they float from the trees and crackle with the wind. The millions of leaves burying us as we pause.”
Amanda is clearly a gifted writer as well as an effective leader.
As an eighth grade student at Lake Forest Country Day School when she began her CCL experience, Amanda took on leadership of her school’s W.O.L.V.E.S. (Working Open Lands Volunteer Environmental Students)program, gathering students for work days at Lake Forest Open Lands. In addition to honing these already impressive leadership skills, she is a motivator among the CCL group, always reaching out to all to make others feel that, no matter how different, they have a friend in her. Currently a student at Lake Forest Academy, Amanda spent her summer as an intern in the Lake Forest Open Lands Eco-Camps working to inspire young children.
The CCL 2016-17 participants presented their stewardship projects at a ceremony at the Greenbelt Cultural Center on April 22, 2017 to a large group of family, friends, conservationists and educators. Below is the list of their impressive projects:
Erick Castrejon, Waukegan High School ’19
Project Blue Bird
Michaelangelo Chazaro, Carmel Catholic High School ’20
Martha Diaz, Round Lake High School ’19
Composting: Worm Edition
Marcello Guifarro, Lake Community High School ’20
The Cut Down Effect
Nicole Lach, Maine East High School ’19
Anouk Maskevich, Round Lake High School ’20
Prescribed Burning: History vs. Current Practice
Kimberly Morales, Cristo Rey St. Martin ’20
Roosevelt Park: Purple Loosestrife Removal
Natalia Ocampo, Waukegan High School ’20
Greenbelt Preserve: Shrub Restoration
Sagar Patel, Maine East High School ’19
Seed Collection and Dispersal
Holly Rosales, Waukegan High School ’19
Seeding the Next Generation
Sofia Saldivar, Waukegan High School ’20
Importance of Volunteering
Gabby Sanchez, Cristo Rey St. Martin ’20
Roosevelt Park: Prairie Revival
Anna Schilling, Lake Forest Academy ’20
Creating Habitat for Mason Bees
Zach Szekely, Zion Benton Township ’19
Lake County’s Treasure: Illinois Beach State Park
Domnic Willis, Waukegan High School ’19
Constructing Mason Bee Houses