Campus group works to improve environment

By Matthew Rainwater

DeKALB | Students interested in protecting, educating people about, and cleaning up the environment don’t have to look far.

An NIU environmental group is doing just that.

Allison Sacerdote, a fourth-year doctorate graduate student in biological sciences, is the president of Committee for the Preservation of Wildlife (CPW). She’s been involved with CPW since the 2004 fall semester.

Sacerdote specializes in amphibian conservation and wetland restoration.

“I enjoy being part of this group because CPW is so involved in many projects around the community,” Sacerdote said. “We improve wildlife areas and educate people about protecting the environment.”

There are 24 active members, but attendance to the group’s weekend activities varies with weather. Members of the group are stewards for the Nachusa Grasslands, one of the largest prairies in the state, located near Franklin Grove. They do restoration work in an area that’s called the Big Woods.

“Native grasslands reduce carbon emissions and, in today’s world, they are very rare,” Sacerdote said.

Sacerdote said the CPW has also helped the DeKalb County Forest Preserve with work on the P.A. Nehring Forest Preserve, 380 Bethany Road. The group has done habitat restoration on Plum Island in Starved Rock State Park, located along the Illinois River, making the land into a wildlife-only area.

This island was once used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an airstrip and will now mainly be used for migrating birds, especially the bald eagle that is located along the river.

One of the reasons why she is so involved with conservation is the common needs that people share, Sacerdote said.

“Everyone needs clean air and water, people need to connect with nature,” Sacerdote said. “I want to help restore nature and make productive prairies.”

Helping Sacerdote with her passion for preserving the environment are her heroes: John Muir, founder, and David Brower, first executive director, of the Sierra Club, of which the group is a student charter. Both played a major part in protecting several wildlife areas, including Yosemite Valley and Grand Canyon National Park.

Committee for the Preservation of Wildlife meetings are at 7 p.m. every second and fourth Monday of each month in Montgomery Hall, Room 443, Sacerdote said. Members can give presentations on anything they want to do and what they care about in regard to the environment.

CPW is working with several other campus environmental groups on a special Earth Week celebration in preparation for Earth Day. There will be a campus cleanup, followed by an Earth Day Concert, featuring bands and environmental speakers. On April 21, there will be a Walk for Wildlife 20K walk/run around DeKalb.