Thursday, November 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns how to protect the environment at UIS

Growing up in the small town of Altamont, Illinois, Jake Seidel spent a lot of time working outdoors. He brought his passion for the outdoors to the University of Illinois Springfield where he’s now learning how to protect the environment as a biology major.

At UIS, Seidel is president of the Biology Club, a member of the UIS Cross Country and Track and Field teams, the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE). He is also a voting member on the Green Fee Committee and has worked as a lab assistant and a science tutor.

“Restoring and keeping our environment preserved has always been a focal point for me and my studies,” he said. “Hopefully, if I can get paid to go outside and have fun, that’s the end goal for me. I hope to get my master’s degree and go into the wildlife management field.”

Seidel has conducted wetland research at the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon with UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke and Associate Professor of Chemistry Keenan Dungey. He also completed summer internships with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

“I’ve had a couple of internship opportunities already through UIS and being out here and doing actual work, you get to learn about what you’re getting into,” he said. “You get to show employers you’re actually able to go out there and do the work.”

As part of the Biology Club, Seidel regularly volunteers to help with environmental restoration projects. He’s currently leading UIS students in restoring Jubilee Farm, an ecology and spirituality center located west of Springfield. Students are working to remove bush honeysuckle, a plant not natively found in Illinois, so that native Illinois plants can grow on the site.

“Coming out here at eight in the morning and getting scratched, getting thorns in you, it is hard work, but it is valuable work,” he said. “This is our third service project this year so far. We’ve got three more work days out here.”

Seidel says he’s glad he chose UIS because of the opportunities he’s gotten to work with faculty, intern with professionals in the field and volunteer with environmental service projects.

“There are so many networking opportunities as well as service opportunities where I can go out and get some actual real-world experience,” he said. “That translates directly into getting a job later on in life. It’s been an extremely valuable opportunity for me here at UIS.”

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