Student Congress

The Chicago River Student Congress brings students together to celebrate the Chicago-Calumet River system.

The 2024 Student Congress was held on Saturday, February 24 at Northeastern Illinois University.

261 students from 38 schools were in attendance at the event. Most of the students (64%) and schools (61%) were from Chicago Public Schools (e.g. Lane Tech, Back of the Yards, and Von Steuben MSC), but some suburban public schools (e.g. Fenton Community HS and Maine East HS) and private schools (Chicago City Day School, Fusion Academy, and West Town Academy) were there as well. Some community youth organizations came to the Congress (e.g. Faith in Place, the Refugee Education and Adventure Challenge, and Teens Take on Climate). We also had over 50 college students and professors from NEIU, Truman College, and School of the Art Institute.

Many environmental professionals led workshops and tabled displays. They shared their expertise and inspired so many students. Organizations at the event included the Forest Preserves of Cook County, IL-IN SeaGrant, Urban Rivers, Big Run Wolf Ranch, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Illinois Environmental Council, the Master Naturalist Program, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Department of Fisheries. Thank you all.

You are welcome to join us next year in February/March 2025 for the next Congress! We will be returning to NEIU.

Learn about river issues from peers and professionals, enjoy snacks and giveaways, and view live animals

The Student Congress is a student-led environmental conference highlighting student service-learning in the Chicago-Calumet River system. Students share their knowledge, experiences and enthusiasm with their peers. Students can present and/or attend informative workshops and view displays created by students from all over the watershed and by professionals from colleges, non-profits and government agencies. All students are welcome, and it is especially geared towards those of middle school and high school ages.

If you have questions about becoming part of the Student Congress, contact Mark Hauser at

Thank you to Northeastern Illinois University and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for funding this year’s Student Congress.


“It was definitely an eye-opener for me. It was great to see students' hard work on display, and I can't wait for my students to represent themselves at next year's Student Congress.”

Efunyemi Vertus, Young Women’s Leadership Charter School