SEE Teamers back in the field again

Taylor Owen, Lifestyles Editor

After a one year hiatus, SEE Team is back in action again.

In the Spring of 2011, after the referendum failure, the school board had to begin to cut costs in the budget. The School of Environmental Education Team was at the top of the list due to the high costs in field trips, liaisons and an extra Environmental Enrichment (EE) classes. Former students and teachers were very upset by this decision.

Former SEE team student, junior Mike Gmitro said, “I was very disappointed when I heard the team was cut. My brother is a freshman and I wanted him to have the same opportunity I did.”

Parents, students and teachers worked hard last year to bring back the team. The former SEE team teachers presented to the school board in November of 2011 on the importance of the SEE team. The vice president of the Brookfield Zoo spoke as well as a professor from the University of Illinois Chicago.  Following the formal presentation, students and parents talked to the board about bringing back the team for around an hour during the open comment session.

Gmitro said, “I presented to the school board because I wanted to share my experience. I wanted to let people know what SEE Team was actually like and the benefits students receive from it.”

After the school board meeting, teachers began presenting at the middle schools to recruit incoming freshmen. The board decided to bring back the team when 81 kids were recruited and the budget of SEE Team was lowered. The zoo liaison and the field trip liaison for the team were cut as well as the Environmental Enrichment classes. This created more openings for the EE teachers to teach other regular classes.

When asked whether or not the return of the team will be permanent, SEE Team science teacher Jame Holt said, “Hopefully. It is not our decision though. It all depends on how funds work out next year with the school.”

Gmitro said, “My favorite part of SEE Team was presenting some of our projects to a ‘green’ industry. It was cool to talk to people with environmental jobs.”

Junior Vidas Kulbis said, “I was glad to have an experience that other freshman didn’t get to have. SEE Team helped me expand my global outreach.”

This year’s team of freshmen is just beginning to get underway.  They’ve had an outdoor team building experience and two trips to the Zoo already.  Still, the redesigned team does face some new challenges.

Holt said, “So far SEE Team is going good. It’s a little challenging because the enrollment size has grown. Also it’s harder to connect the different classes together without the EE classes. We just have to be more creative this year.”

Current SEE Teamer Mia Haugland, whose older sister Kelly was on the team in 2010-2011, said, “My favorite part of SEE Team so far was when we went to the Zoo. It was good because we got to have hands on experience. I’m looking forward to getting to know more people.”

Next up for the team, students take a trip to the Irons Oaks high ropes course next week and participate on environmental service trips around the community in the week following.