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Cargill Foundation grant providing environmental internships


A grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is supporting environmental internships for six Illinois College students this summer.

According to Illinois College President Axel D. Steuer, “The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation’s grant has allowed us to establish a multi-year internship program that provides our students with experiential learning opportunities to complement classroom learning.” He continued, “This important grant helps to support Illinois College’s commitment to be an environmentally friendly institution.”

The program will provide internship opportunities for Illinois College students majoring in environmental studies and biology.

“There is great flexibility in the design of these internships. The students take the initiative to contact a potential employer, negotiate the terms of their internship and submit a proposal to the selection committee.” Susie Drake, director of career services, said.

She added that internships include on-site supervision, as well as guidance from a faculty advisor.

The following students are conducting environmental internships.

Shanna David, a senior from Trivoli, is interning at the Gulf Coast Marine Lab affiliated with the University of Southern Mississippi in Ocean Springs, Miss. As a teaching assistant for Richard Heard, professor of invertebrate zoology, David is working on a project to describe a new species of Marine Tanaid, a marine Crustacean. The Gulf Coast Marine Lab is a 50-acre waterfront facility. Field work is done on the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi's barrier islands, Mississippi Sound and adjacent coastal waters.

Taylor Joray, a senior from Aurora, is interning with the Peregrine Fund of Boise, Idaho, and the Kane County Forest Preserve in Geneva, Ill. Over the course of the spring and summer he has worked with key personnel in both organizations to develop an independent research project aimed at preserving the American kestrel, a North and South American raptor species that is in decline in the United States. He built and installed 16 nest boxes for American kestrels in various locations in Kane County Forest Preserve, as well as five boxes in the Jacksonville area. These boxes provide nesting sites that are critical to the preservation of this bird of prey. Joray will monitor the nest boxes for occupancy and hatchling survival, band birds that he observes and collect data on nearby land use. He will send his findings to the Peregrine Fund at the end of the summer.

Jessica Johnson, a senior from Mt. Zion, is interning at Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Educational Center in Rock Springs, Wis. This USDA-licensed organization provides a safe place for abused, neglected and unwanted lions, leopards, tigers and other big cats, and educates the public about these extraordinary animals. The animals at this facility come from zoos or from private owners who can no longer take care of them. Johnson’s internship will assist with the care of the big cats. She will also help to educate the public on how large cats should be treated and how keeping them as pets is dangerous and detrimental to the animals’ welfare.

Audrey Brauer, a sophomore from Oakford, and Kelsey Tucker, a sophomore from Petersburg, are interning at the Starhill Forest Arboretum near Petersburg. These interns are working directly with the Arboretum’s primary scientific collection, a living reference collection of Quercus (oak trees), that has been recognized by the North American Plant Collections Consortium. Additionally, they assist in maintaining and monitoring herb and perennial landscapes, a native prairie garden, several provenance tests, containerized tree production, a rare tree nursery and a conifer plantation.

Korrie Edwards, a sophomore from Peoria, received travel funding from the program to assist her in securing an internship at the Florida Keys, National Key Deer Refuge located in Big Pine Key, Fla. Edwards has assisted Refuge biologists in a white crowned pigeon survey, an experiment with Pineland Croton to identify the most favorable conditions for its growth, and determining the feasibility of catching and tagging frigate birds. She has also assisted in initiating at the Refuge’s first summer camp for students in grades four through seven, and she led the campers in beach clean-up, planting a pollinator garden and learning to identify animal signs.

Margaret A. Cargill is the granddaughter of William Cargill, co-founder of Cargill Inc. The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation was created upon the philanthropist’s death in 2006 and assists programs that reflect her passions and priorities including the environment; the arts; services to families, children and the elderly; disaster-related relief, recovery and development; planned health; and animal welfare.
About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Ill. With an enrollment of about 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs and a Master of Arts in Education degree program. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit or call 217-245-3467 for more information.

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