For five years, Harper College students have cut brush, pulled weeds and restored spaces for living things as volunteers with local environmental organizations. Now a Barrington-based group is honoring the professor who inspired them.
Craig Stettner, an associate professor of biology who also oversees Harper's Environmental Club, has been named the winner of this year's William H. Miller Conservation Award, the highest honor bestowed by the 42-year-old Citizens for Conservation organization.
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Stettner, who has headed up the Environmental Club since 2002, routinely encourages his students to volunteer for Citizens for Conservation and other environmental groups, presenting the opportunity to earn extra credit while also getting hands-on ecological experience and the chance to improve the world around them, Citizens for Conservation Vice President Jim Vanderpoel said.
Some of the students have returned to become regular volunteers.
"I'm honored to be the recipient of an award that's linked directly to conservation," Stettner said. "My goal every year is to expose my Harper students to real ecological work in the hope that it inspires them to learn even more about biology, the environment and ecology and our role in all of it. They're able to help a good cause while learning, and that to me is the real reward."
Stettner, who sits on the Chicago Audubon Society board, also conducts bird counts at several local sites, coordinated the Dragonfly Monitoring Network -- studying the species in Chicago and beyond -- from 2005 to 2011, and is a Friends of Busse Woods board member.
He was recognized at the group's annual meeting in February.
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