During the summer of 2015, several Roosevelt University students majoring in Sustainability Studies have been doing internships or pursuing study abroad opportunities in various locales around the world, from Chicago to Hawaii and from Schaumburg to Scandinavia. We’ve invited them to write up reports from the field on their activities, adventures, and advocacy work in the service of environmental conservation, sustainable development, and social justice.
This post is from Sarah Tag, a senior SUST major who is working this summer and fall as RU’s Schaumburg Campus on a wide variety of sustainability projects.
This summer, I have had the privilege of working as Roosevelt University’s environmental sustainability student associate for the Schaumburg campus. The tasks for this position are varied, but among my most important responsibilities are monitoring and maintaining the community garden, as well as keeping an eye on things through the tall grasses and flowers of the prairie walk.
As part of monitoring and maintaining the community garden I am often checking and double checking our automatic irrigation system and making adjustments, checking the rain barrel to make sure it is full and functioning, weeding, laying wood chips, taking pictures of the flora and fauna, and regularly corresponding with gardeners to answer questions and resolve any issues.
Generally things run fairly smoothly, although the job is not without its challenges. One of my toughest issues arose when I had just begun my position in Schaumburg, and spotted a tick while working on one of the irrigation heads. I then took it upon myself to minimize the issue: I did some research on the CDC website, and sent an update to the community gardeners with helpful tips. I also worked with the landscaper to have the tall grasses that abut the community gardens cut back a bit, leaving a buffer zone between them. Then I did the really heavy lifting. I spent numerous hot days loading a wheelbarrow full of wood chips (from trees that were cut on campus), pushing them over to the garden area, laying them down, and spreading them neatly. Wood chips not only deter weeds, but also discourage ticks.
When I say the job is a privilege, however, it is no exaggeration. I have walked through the prairie walk on so many days and said to myself, “Is this really my job?! I am so lucky!” One of my favorite things to hear when I get out there is the song of the goldfinches flying above me. I can identify them without even looking up above my head now, and I grin every time. I know their dip-swoop pattern of flying and their fluttery song well. I have seen and heard other animals and critters too, even a toad. From the exotic to the mundane, every day on this job has been an adventure.
Submitted by Sarah Tag on 26 Aug 2015