Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leadership lived: Student organizes zoo cleanup effort

Nate Hoyle, a junior environmental studies major at the University of Illinois Springfield, loves nature and working outdoors. It’s that passion that led him to organize a volunteer cleanup day at Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield.

Hoyle, who is president of the UIS Biology Club, coordinated with several other student groups on campus to organize the event, which attracted over 40 volunteers. The crew spent the day removing invasive plant species, such as honeysuckle.

“Invasive species are a really big problem and they’re a real expensive problem to take care of,” said Hoyle. “The expense part is what we’re providing today with the volunteers. We’ll be able to get a lot of work done today and hopefully make the zoo look as good as it can.”

At age 32, Hoyle is a non-traditional transfer student who commutes to campus. He decided UIS was the perfect school for him to earn a bachelor’s degree, while raising a family.

“I came back to school in January 2010 after the economy took its toll on my landscaping business and I was forced to sell,” he said. “I learned a lot from not being able to continue the business anymore and I’ve learned even more coming back to school.”

Hoyle says managing the volunteer project has taught him valuable leadership skills, especially when it comes to coordination.

“Managing the project, working with the people from the zoo, getting the park district involved, getting their tree crew out here being paid overtime to do this and getting the 40 people out here to do this has been an amazing learning experience,” said Hoyle.

He now wants to take on more projects and make a career out of what he’s learned at UIS.

“I would really enjoy this kind of work. I really enjoy the responsibility,” said Hoyle.