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Education, conversation, connection at environmental conference

Posted: Mar 13, 2017


More than 260 attendees came from across northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana attended the recent Kankakee River Watershed Conference hosted by Olivet Nazarene University.

As the only four-year university on the Kankakee River, Olivet Nazarene University was the ideal host for the recent bi-state Kankakee River Watershed Conference. More than 260 attendees came from across northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana, united by their interest in the health and future of the Kankakee River and areas surrounding it.

“This conference brought many key people together,” says Dr. Randal Johnson, conference chair and a professor in Olivet’s Department of Biological Sciences. “Some had never visited ONU’s campus before. This gathering has opened up new opportunities for community partnering.”

United under the conference theme, “Kankakee: The River That Connects Us,” stakeholder attendees represented government agencies, elected officials, universities, businesses, farmers and citizens. Goals of this conference were to: 1) educate citizens on issues critical to the watershed, 2) have conversations among stakeholders that look to find common ground, and 3) strengthen connections among bi-state watershed users.

Fifteen conference speakers covered a variety of science, recreation, economic and ethical topics. The speakers came from government agencies and universities. They covered the best and most recent science, as well as a historical overview of the basin and an introduction to the new designation of the Kankakee River as a National Water Trail. The concluding plenary session focused on building partners for a sustainable future. Click here to review the conference program and some of the presentations.

“Feedback from conference attendees has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Dr. Johnson. “There is a strong interest in building on the dialog and momentum generated in order to strengthen bi-state connections going forward. Participants are already asking when the next conference will be held.”

To learn more about Olivet’s Department of Biological Sciences, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Cadets enrolled in Olivet's Roaring Tiger ROTC Battalion