Saint Viator’s Querbes Scholars hit the road again last month, this time to head to the Chicago Botanic Garden. However, they did more than take a tour. These students came to work, specifically to carry out biodiversity tests on their ponds and prairies.
Freshmen worked with staff and volunteers to conduct water quality tests on some of the garden’s ponds, part of their 81 acres of waterways, while sophomores and juniors conducted biodiversity studies on some of the 15 acres of prairies located within the gardens.
Afterward, each group’s work was combined into one result and conclusions were made as to how healthy and diverse the prairies and ponds are and what can be done to make them more diverse.
Of course, it was not all work and no play. After lunch they enjoyed a 40-minute tram ride across the entire grounds with a tour guide pointing out some of the highlights. As luck would have it, the scholars were there to see Spike, the 8-foot tall corpse flower, bloom. This rare, tropical flower blooms every seven to 10 years, and when it does, it remains open for only 24-36 hours.
“We learned a lot about gardens, flowers, prairies, wetlands and how they are interrelated with wildlife, and why we need healthy biodiverse spaces,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, who accompanied her junior Querbes Scholars, along with Mrs. Julie Reedy, freshmen Querbes Scholars moderator; and Mr. Matt Hynek, who leads sophomore Querbes Scholars.
Students said they found the trip enlightening, adding that they may never look at a garden the same way again, and just how much they found the trip applied to their science classes.
“It was interesting to learn that scientists have a precise way to determine the biodiversity of a prairie and whether it is healthy or not,” added Matthew Rapala ’19. “I didn’t know it could be actually measured.”
Finally, Katherine Quinn ’19 added how fortunate she was to have the opportunity to go on field trips with the Querbes Scholars.
“The trip helped me to enjoy nature more,” Katherine said, “and to look at grasses and weeds in a whole new way.”