2011 Paralegal Studies Grad Uses Research Skills to Help Field Museum

Lee Price at the Field Museum

Lee Price at the Field Museum

Lee Price certainly didn’t enroll in Roosevelt’s paralegal certificate program to connect with Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH). Many years away from her bachelor’s in biology and working in an immigration law office, she was more focused on expanding her career options in the legal field. But then one thing led to another…
During the program Lee discovered that in addition to her love for the natural world, she had a strong interest in Legal Research and Legal Writing.” “I might be a nerd,” she says, “but finding a case on point is a thrill!” Her two interests came together when Lee, a member of the national paralegal honor society LEX, attended the 2011 Roosevelt honors ceremony. She introduced herself to one of the presenters, Julian Kerbis Peterhans, PhD, Professor of Natural Science, and a curator at FMNH. “I’d always wanted to be involved with a natural history museum,” says Lee, “and I thought maybe this was my chance.”
When Professor Kerbis asked Lee what skills she had to contribute to the Field, she was so far away from her biology days she had to think for a minute. Then she remembered Legal Research and the answer became obvious. “I can track down information,” she said.
Today Lee finds information that helps Prof. Kerbis publish his research: she confirms the accuracy of existing reports about the habits of creatures in far-flung places. Just as in legal research, this is a matter of locating sources, and it presents its challenges. “Many of the relevant papers date from the early 1900s and are difficult to find. Others are behind a journal pay wall or under copyright protection,” Lee explains.
To get access to them, she can consult specialized data bases that have some of the older publications digitized; look for scanned copies posted on university course web sites; search the electronic collections of other natural history museums; and look in various other places. As a result, she faces a question every Legal Research student is familiar with: “Where should I begin?” “Sometimes I just start with the title of the article on Google; sometimes I go straight to a data base; and sometimes I do a search through the Field Museum Library’s web site,” says Lee. She notes that just as in Legal Research, key words are crucial. She stresses that there’s no formula: the process is as much an art as a science.
Most of the time Lee finds that a recently-published paper accurately reports the original source. “But sometimes you find conflicting accounts of how an opossum or a rat behaves,” she says. “An expedition to the Belgian Congo in 1913 reports one thing; a more sophisticated study with improved methodology in 1983 another.” Then she drafts a description that includes all relevant previous opinions, another parallel with legal research.
If Lee was surprised to find herself at the Field Museum as a result of the program, she is less so that the certificate has contributed to her career development, as she originally intended. She uses her combined science-legal background to work on immigration cases for researchers who want to come to the U.S. “I am fascinated by what they do and enjoy learning about it,” she says. “I like putting my skills to work for them and for the Field Museum – it’s my own small contribution to science.”


RU Hosts Great Lakes Bioneers Conference on Nov 1-3

The first weekend in November, RU will host a major event: Great Lakes Bioneers environmental sustainability conference at Roosevelt University‘s Chicago Campus. For three exciting days, Nov 1-3, participants will have the opportunity to join international, national and local visionaries in a program of presentations and interactive workshops interwoven with music, drama, dance, poetry and celebration. All RU students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend and participate in this special event.

Save the date GLs Bioneers 2013 at RUThe conference theme, Creating Resilient Communities, will bring together leading innovators from all walks of life to exchange ideas, build networks and experience the power of visions guided by a philosophy that the responses to our city’s most significant environmental, social and economic challenges must be in harmony with the wisdom and proven design of natural systems.

GLs Bioneers logo

Event Highlights

  • Keynotes by leaders in the environmental and social justice movements, including David Orr and Sandra Steingraber (on Friday Nov. 1), two leading voices of sustainability and environmental activism/education.
  • Professional Development workshops on food, water, waste, shelter, climate, and community using the World Café model.
  • Empowering, interactive panels and workshops.
  • Inspiring music, poetry and dance.
  • Youth-related workshops and activities.
  • Saturday Concert by the Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Choir.
  • Exhibit Hall showcasing Chicago’s change makers.

Roosevelt students and faculty are eligible for special registration discounts. Contact SUST program director Mike Bryson (mbryson@roosevelt.edu) for special discount registration code, then visit the conference registration site. You can also volunteer for the conference to gain free admission that day!

Cooke Receives Second Grant to Aid Urban Garden Community

Maris Cooke, a long-time adjunct faculty member in the Department of Professional and Liberal Studies (PLS) program, has been awarded a second McCormick Tribune Foundation Transformational Service-Learning Grant from RU’s Mansfield Institute of Social Justice and Transformation. The grant will help fund an urban community garden which helps provide nutritious fruits and vegetables that are largely beyond the budgets of people who live below the poverty level.

Cooke’s part in the project began back in 2006, when her students in a PLS 391 Seminar in Natural Sciences voiced their concerns about urban environmental deterioration and the poverty that often surrounds it, after learning about it in their class. They wanted to do something meaningful–and so did Cooke. Cooke knew about community gardens and had worked in several, so began researching opportunities to blend student awareness, philanthropy, and social justice within an urban garden setting.

Cooke learned about the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago’s Mission Outreach Program, which in 2002, began the conversion of an outdoor basketball court to a community garden. The garden is located on a property the church owns next to the Cabrini Green Public Housing Project. The garden provides church members and residents of Cabrini Green with gardening plots on which to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The church, with their community partners, provide educational programs and monthly cookouts for adults and children at the garden. After learning about the church’s project, Cooke applied for and received her first service-learning grant in 2008, in the amount of $6000, and Roosevelt University became one of the church’s community partners.

Two neighborhood children enjoy an event at the Chicago Avenue Urban Farm. Picture taken by RU student Kenneth Sullivan.

The students in Cooke’s PLS 391 have been at the garden for several events since the spring of 2008.  They co-hosted two events: the Healthy Living, Healthy Eating Cookout in the summer of 2009, and the Fall Harvest Festival in October 2009.  Students attending these functions have served in a variety of roles: some weeded and watered the garden; others served and cooked food at the monthly cookouts, while still others engaged with the children who come to the garden for educational and recreational programs. Cooke says “My intent for our participation in the garden was to demonstrate what can be done with vacant spaces in any urban setting.  The conversion of vacant spaces can rehabilitate communities, and provide a setting that is a safe haven for children and adults that can create or reinforce community ties.”

The garden is currently in a transformational period as the Cabrini Green Public Housing projects are being torn down.  However,with the Cabrini Row Houses and nearby North Town Village, the garden is about to become a year round urban farm.  In conjunction with Growing Power, a national organization that supports efforts of this kind, this transformation will begin over the summer of 2010.  Cooke’s 2010 grant, which is $1850, will fund a Children’s Garden, the creation of a herb garden, the purchase of rain barrels to defray costs of watering and which are an environmentally sound practice for the conservation of water, and the purchase of one of the year-round greenhouses.

Beginning in May of this year and through the fall of 2010, students in the PLS 391 course and the new SUST 230 course (“Food”), will be helping with this conversion, and also attending and working at various community cookouts and educational events sponsored by the farm.  Cooke says, “What is most meaningful to me is the interaction between our students and the children . . . you can clearly see how important it is for these children to have the friendly and generous attention of adults, whether it is helping them to fill their plates, helping them to water the children’s garden, or playing games with them.  It is a meaningful and rewarding experience that our students will take with them for the rest of their lives.”

Go Green Awareness Day: April 22

Learn how to live life to the greenest!

Students can help celebrate Earth Day at Roosevelt by attending the “Go Green Awareness Day,” this Thursday, April 22nd. Sponsored by the Center for Student Involvement, the event will be held from 12noon-3pm in the Auditorium Building’s Congress Lounge (second floor). Go Green Awareness Day will feature environmentally-friendly products and education, as well as volunteer opportunities in the field with local organizations. Associate Professor Mike Bryson and Assistant Professor Carl Zimring, co-developers of the new Sustainability Studies major in ETSCPS, will also be there for questions and discussion.

New Deal Service Days

It’s that time of year again where students, faculty, staff, and friends get together for a day to help out those in need.  The New Deal Service Days event is being held on two days: Friday, April 23rd and Saturday, April 24th.  There are  9 Chicago sites and 12 Schaumburg sites to choose from Check out the FAQ page for more information on scheduling, meeting locations and times.   Click here to register online and benefit from the feeling of  knowing that you are doing something great to help out your community!