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Middle School Ecology Internship 

Grades 6-8 

Service Dates: Saturdays for 6 weeks, starting September 18, 2021

Homewood Science Center is sponsoring a conservation ecology-based internship for middle school students. This internship will complement the Ecosystems science content and the science and engineering practices reflected in the Next Generation Science Standards for middle school. This internship is a student-led program supporting student agency and equitable practices. All area middle school students are invited to apply to join us this spring in a community project to support Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve and Homewood Science Center through scientific investigation, discovery, and leadership!

Led by Patricia Messersmith, senior educator at the Museum of Science and Industry; Nicole Fuller, Chicago Public School Science Educator; and Kandis Demeo, Entomology Specialist; 6th-8th grade interns will meet outdoors at Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve. The internship will focus on the restoration of the oak woodland at the Preserve in support of the Chicago Wilderness Oak Ecosystems Recovery Plan.The interns will do restoration work as well as practice leadership skills in educating the community about the importance of conserving this amazing tree as a keystone species in a woodland ecosystem.

COVID-19 Policy
In response to Covid-19, all programming will take place outdoors at Izaak Walton Preserve maintaining social distancing at all times. All participants in the program are required to wear a mask and use provided hand sanitizer.


This internship is open to 6th-8th grade students interested in conservation and ecology. The time commitment for this internship is 12 hours of program sessions as well as approximately 3-5 hours in community service work.


Internship Benefits
Participation will provide students with hands-on learning experience in project field work, development, and community leadership.


Application Requirements
Students must complete this brief online application no later than September 10, 2021.


Interns are required to meet at the Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve on the following dates:

September 18 (9:30-11:30 am) Welcome to Izaak Walton and Explore the Preserve

Izaak Walton Preserve

Discover the role of Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve in the conservation of three Chicago area ecosystems: the prairie, woodland, and wetland. You will explore the Preserve and begin to discover the unique characteristics of each ecosystem as well as plan to design fun, interactive and educational family scavenger hunts.


September 25 (9:30-11:30 am) Discover Unique Organism Adaptations in the Wetland Ecosystem

Izaak Walton Preserve

Discover the plant and animal species that live in the wetland ecosystem at Izaak Walton Preserve and their unique adaptations to the abiotic factors in their environment. Investigate organisms who depend entirely on the water for survival and others who depend on both the water and dry land within the ecosystem.


October 2 (9:30-11:30 am) Explore Biodiversity in the Prairie Ecosystem

Izaak Walton Preserve

Explore the native Illinois prairie area of Izaak Walton Preserve and the importance of biodiversity to the health of the ecosystem as you discover more about the interrelationships between prairie species and the abiotic factors that support their survival.


October 9 (9:30-11:30 am) Investigate Invasive Species in the Woodland Ecosystem

Izaak Walton Preserve

Hike through the woodland areas of Izaak Walton Preserve, discover which species are invasive, and the management plans that the Preserve is following to protect the native plants. Discover the important role of trees in the survival of both animals and other plants in the woodland ecosystem.


October 16 (9:30-11:30 am) Develop and Design an Izaak Walton Family Educational Scavenger Hunt  

Izaak Walton Preserve

Work together in small groups to design and develop the educational family scavenger hunts you have been planning for communicating what you learned about the characteristics and interrelationships of species within the wetland, prairie, and woodland habitats at Izaak Walton Preserve and the importance of conservation.


October 23 (9:30-11:30 am) Educational Family Scavenger Hunt Dry Run

Walton Preserve

Practice your leadership skills in a dry-run of the educational family scavenger hunts you designed to prepare for the families that will participate at the Homewood Science Center’s Walk Walton Fundraiser. Prepare to share the scientific knowledge you’ve gained through this Program and share it with the community in a project you developed and designed with other students!