On April 9th and 10th, April Burgett, President and Kim Anderson, Secretary of the Havana Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a group of graduate level students who made the trip to Havana from Chicago and enjoyed two days of tours, learning and making connections in Havana.
Reed Williams, Ishan Maunder, and Michael Lachenmeyer, University of Chicago graduate-level students, in public history practicum were working on a specific project that included gathering information, doing research, conducting interviews and visiting locations in an effort to produce an audio profile of Havana as one of the rural communities in America that will host Spark! Places of Innovation. The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street will spend five weeks in Havana next January and February at the Havana City Center. The theme of the proposed project included science, health, and environment.
The Havana Chamber threw its hat in the ring amongst many other communities that will also host Spark! in this competitive opportunity to work with the students with Havana as the focus of their graduate audio profile project.
"We submitted our application to be selected early last December, and learned in February we had been chosen, and then we began planning for the students to visit. We set up some interviews and tours, and gave them the full downtown walking tour pointing out areas of restoration and revitalization and explaining the story of where we came from and where we are now" said April Burgett, Chamber President. Burgett continued "The premise of our application was based on the highly innovative and ground breaking science that is conducted here in Havana at our two University of Illinois biological field stations, the Illinois River Biological Station and the Forbes Biological Station. It is truly amazing and very significant that our small rural community has not only one, but two highly functioning research stations, and the work they do is not only important for long term data sets but also new ground breaking technology and research in many areas."
The group arrived on Easter Sunday and enjoyed beautiful weather for the downtown portion of their visit and walking tour. On Monday, they toured the Illinois River Biological Station, traveled north up the Illinois River to the Emiquon water control structure by boat and learned about cutting edge Whooshh steeppass fish ladder that will be deployed this year to test innovative new technology used for invasive species management. The group also had an opportunity to learn about other sampling and research being conducted at IRBS and were able to try their hand at electrofishing and hands on fish identification.
Next, the group traveled to the Forbes Biological Station, Frank C. Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center for a tour and were able to interview waterfowl biologist, Andy Gilbert, and get a tour of the Forbes Station. The group recorded the tours for use in the development of the audio profile / podcast project that will pair as marketing materials for the upcoming Spark! Places of Innovation exhibition.