First Teen Conservation Leadership Conference a Success

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From August 3-5, Brookfield Zoo and Illinois Institute of Technology revealed the wonders of STEM to over 400 Chicago area high school students attending the first Teen Conservation Leadership Conference, which took place on the university’s campus.

Stuart D. Strahl, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society stated that the goal of the conference was to provide students with a better understanding of what they can do personally to promote conservation-minded actions and make a positive impact in their schools and communities. This humble goal was achieved on top of many more.

The Illinois Tech office of Student Access, Success and Diversity (SASDI) invited many eager notables from the Illinois Tech campus to present: Hamid Arastoopour, Henry R. Linden Professor of Engineering and director of Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) gave the opening keynote address. Leon Shaw, Rowe Family Endowed Chair Professor in Sustainable Energy; Sohail Murad, professor and department chair of chemical and biological engineering provided riveting sessions on sustainability. Current students Farshogar Umrigar and Jimmy Shah presented on behalf of the Center for Smart Grid Applications, Research and Technology (CSMART) while Merjem Mededovic, president of IIT UFarm and Brian Gomez all provided sessions for the conference.

The three-day conference offered over 24 exhibitors, which included museums, colleges, nature centers, and youth organizations. The last day of the conference took place at the Brookfield Zoo campus, where students were able to view the exhibits.

The Illinois Tech office of Career Services hosted a “Winning the Interview” session, in which local Bronzeville playwright, Messiah Equiano, performed a flawed interview skit. Passionate Illinois Tech alumni Shawn Dalcour, Tracy Dantley, Claudette Soto and Weil Wu represented four major companies and vetted the skit to provide insightful job search and interview advice– of which students asked great questions and took lots of notes.

Teens ultimately learned how to protect the gift of nature and advocate for its resources. The future of our planet is everyone’s responsibility and the attendants learned that you are never too young to make a difference.