The Environmental Change Initiative is dedicated to public education on the challenges related to environmental change. ND-ECI faculty, students and staff deliver educational programs on campus and throughout the broader community. Much of ND-ECI’s outreach occurs at the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF), located five miles from campus at St. Patrick’s County Park.
Working in conjunction with St. Joseph County Park's staff, ND-LEEF offers K-12 field trips for local schools. Programs can be adapted to most age groups and typically include:
- Introduction to ND-LEEF and tour of the facility: learn how the facility works and why Notre Dame built replicated aquatic ecosystems.
- Presentation on an ecological concept and/or group of organisms using the touch screen interactive display. Topics have included: nutrient pollution (eutrophication), aquatic food webs, aquatic metabolism, pollution and bioaccumulation, stream ecology and the River Continuum Concept.
- Hands-on activity such as: sampling macroinvertebrates or zooplankton, measuring dissolved oxygen in water, measuring stream flow, measuring physical characteristics of streams and ponds and using binoculars or spotting scope to observe an active bald eagle nest.
ND-ECI offers a variety of annual events for learners of all ages. Each fall, we host “Science Sunday,” where the public is invited to ND-LEEF to interact with Notre Dame researchers to learn about science. Below are examples of recent ND-LEEF outreach:
Also, several Notre Dame undergraduate courses in aquatic ecology, stream ecology, hydrology and architecture utilize ND-LEEF for field exercises.
For more information about ND-LEEF's outreach and education, contact Brett Peters.