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Mentorship for Sustainability 

Together for Nature is committed to increasing the participation, input, and impact of youth in our local sustainability efforts.

About.

Together for Nature and Equity and Sustainability Consulting offer a Mentorship for Sustainability Program open to high school and college students.

 

The program is focused on involving youth in local sustainability efforts and equipping them with skills and knowledge that will help them in their academic and professional journeys, preparing them for a green future. 

Apply.

Mentorship occurs on a trimester basis when mentees and mentors are paired, and applications are open yearlong. 

Program Structure.

Mentees will be paired up with a local sustainability leader that will mentor them in connecting to and leading sustainability change.

The program  provides students with  mentoring and skill development through educational, scientific, activist, and networking opportunities.

 

We have mentors that are working on stream/wetland restoration, lobbying, environmental justice, diversifying sustainability, pollinator gardens, and other topics.

At the end of the experience, mentees are welcome to join Together for Nature in a deeper capacity as an official member and continue meaningful work as a volunteer.

Program Timeline.

Spring Semester 

October - January: Outreach and Release
January: Orientation
February - April: Monthly mentoring sessions

Deadline: January 6th

Summer Semester

April - May: Outreach and Release
May: Orientation
June - August: Monthly mentoring sessions

Deadline: May 6th

Fall Semester

August - September: Outreach and Release
September: Orientation
October - December: Monthly mentoring sessions

Deadline: September 6th

Impact.

We have partnered with more than 10 organizations in order to provide important educational and sustainability/environmental enrichment to more than 15 local students.

Youth for Sustainability.

You are invited to our monthly Youth for Sustainability Meetings hosted by our Mentorship for Sustainability program fro m6:30 to 7:15 pm every fourth Monday of the month.  They will start after our Mentorship program has their monthly check-ins. Email info@togetherfornatureil.com to sign up for the meetings!

We will be inviting speakers and organizations from throughout the region and nation to discuss their work on sustainability, environmental justice, conservation, equity, and related topics. The sessions are open to any youth  and there will be time after the presentations for youth to meet each other and discuss their sustainability interests and visions for our communities.

Presentations will focus on any of the following topics and on teaching our participants about sustainability careers and changemaking:

  • Environmental justice

  • Sustainability

  • Nature-based solutions

  • Green infrastructure

  • Clean water

  • Green and equitable jobs

  • And other related topics!

If you are interested in presenting at these sessions, please email info@togetherfornatureil.com.

Projects.

 Through our Mentorship for Sustainability program, high school and college students have been able to lead sustainability change in their communities while gaining important skills and knowledge. They have worked on projects that range from research to zero waste! Below, you can read profiles on their efforts and how they have benefited from Together for Nature programs.

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Conor Freeney

Hello! My name is Conor Freeney and I am currently a senior in high school. I got involved with Together for Nature during my Junior year and have been working with my mentor, Mary, ever since. I started out by volunteering at weekend workdays in the winter, which consisted mainly of clearing buckthorn and applying pesticide to allow for more open space for native plants. However, our main project this year has been monitoring beaver dams along Manitou Creek in Round Lake. Over the summer, we installed stream gauges to monitor water level and trail cams to capture wildlife activities. It’s been amazing to learn about the relationships we have with wildlife in our community and how we interact with one another. I’ve really enjoyed being able to connect with a diverse group of people who share the same passion for the environment. The mentorship program has pushed me to become more involved in local conservation efforts and has given me skills to collaborate with others to generate solutions to environmental issues.

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Atalhea Herman

The Butler Lake Restoration Project is designed to reduce erosion and pollution entering the lake through removing invasive plants along the shoreline and replacing them with native plants. I met Mrs. Fish through Together for Nature and she helped identify which plants would be best to plant to restore the shoreline. So far, we have received positive feedback from the community. People are looking forward to seeing the result and seem genuinely interested in native plants. The project has helped me learn more about our natural landscape and general life skills, including public speaking, how to research, and an appreciation for the people and environment around me.

I am also working on reducing waste in my school cafeteria. At the moment, the cafeteria runs entirely on single-use cups, plates, and silverware. The goal is to switch one or more of these to reusable materials. This would reduce the footprint of the school. Through this project, I have become a better researcher and communicator. I hope it will help my peers and my school learn how to reduce waste and help the environment.

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Andrea Zavala-Tinoco

Hi! My name is Andrea Zavala Tinoco. My journey with Together for Nature started when a friend asked if I wanted to be part of a mentorship program. I worked on the Beaver Project with Gloria (my amazing mentor), a project where we focused on investigating how beaver activities would impact the health of a watershed. I learned how to conduct field research and how to analyze the chemical components of water samples! I was given the opportunity to travel to Baltimore to BeaverCon with my mentor to learn more about beavers and their impact on ecosystems. I also was invited to join the Illinois Beaver Alliance and presented at the ILMA Conference on beavers alongside the president of the Illinois Beaver Alliance. I based my senior research paper on the effects beavers have on watersheds across the country to find similarities and differences. This mentorship has opened my eyes that there are so many opportunities for a First Gen student that did not know what she was going to do after graduating. Through Together for Nature, I have met extraordinary people from different backgrounds, I have learned many skills and I have even become part of the Board of Directors for Together for Nature. I will forever be grateful to my friend (Alondra) for pushing me to do the mentorship program! So many great opportunities have come my way ever since joining Together for Nature.

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