Support: Susan Casey

Letter of support – Waters Ecology Program
Dear Waters LSC and Waters administration —
The Ecology Program at Waters School is an exemplary model of environmental education and community-building not only within CPS, but nationally.
This program that Pete Leki has developed over decades enables all Waters students at every grade level to explore and learn about their local ecosystems and how to grow food through regular field trips throughout the year. Waters students get to visit the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, local forest preserves, as well as the school’s own amazing edible and native plant gardens and heritage oak trees.
These regular opportunities to form a personal connection with nature, and Pete’s way of inviting the wider community into the process, foster a sense of wonder and a sense of place for students, both of which are more important than ever given our current climate crisis, loss of biodiversity, and social disconnection.
In addition to fostering community and sharing knowledge with Waters families and
neighborhood, Pete has always been welcoming of anyone to visit the garden, feel part of a community, and learn, especially for visitors from other CPS schools. I’ve been a recipient of that welcome on numerous occasions, including when I learned how to manage onsite school composting through the Composting Cohort that Pete led, which enabled me to bring it to a neighboring school.
The Waters Ecology Program needs to be replicated, not cut back. I encourage you to find a solution that preserves the intended funding for the Waters Ecology Program and Pete’s position so that Pete may continue to lead a program that benefits not only Wasters students, but continues to serve as a model for all schools in CPS and beyond.
Susan Casey
Zero Waste Schools Program Manager, Seven Generations Ahead
Former CPS science teacher and garden club leader
Waters Community Garden