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Documenting biodiversity in Chicagoland

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Third in a 10 part series of student journalists Making a Difference

In Carolyn Fritts journalistic writing course, at Glenbard West High School, in Glen Ellyn, Ill., she requires students to a research local topic and produce a comprehensive film documentary as their final exam.

Students set out to discover what happens to Chicago when the ecosystem collapses and what can happen when individuals take measures to protect and promote biodiversity.  “The Loss of Biodiversity in the Chicagoland Area” captures the ravages of urban sprawl.

Biodiversity in urban settings decreases with urban sprawl. Urban amphibians are the first victims. Students looked at how scientists are trying to return flora and fauna back to its most natural state.

This 15-minute documentary shows the devastation to the wild life in the 370,000-acre area in the Chicagoland area and how ecologists work to reverse the devastation. Featuring interviews with naturalists and ecologists, these student journalists tell the story of ways professionals even use fire to restore habitats to clear out the invasive species to help the habitat heal itself.

According to Fritts, the students had to “interview two experts concerning their topic, conduct extensive background research, film footage to supplement the documentary’s narrative, and provide voice overs to incorporate research.”

Making a difference is not just about reporting the intensely controversial topics that surround schools, but searching out stories that impact the environment around the schools. The students at Glenbard High School have done this.

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