Student Congress

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

It is a student-led environmental conference hosted annually by a partner school in the Chicago River watershed. Students share their knowledge, experiences and enthusiasm with their peers. They can present and/or attend informative workshops and view displays created by other students and by professionals from local colleges, non-profits and government agencies.

The Next Student Congress will be held February 2024

Thanks to all who attended and supported the 2023 Chicago River Student Congress at DePaul College Prep on February 25, 2023.

Our River and Our Community

We had 225 students and 32 teachers from 23 schools (and three youth organizations).

Waters Elementary School, Chase Elementary School, Lane Tech College Prep, Von Steuben Metro Science Center, Back-of-the-Yards College Prep, Skinner North Classical School, Chicago City Day School, Solorio Academy, Niles North High School, DePaul College Prep, Lake View High School, Whitney Young High School, Lindblom Academy, Decatur Classical School, George Washington High School, Brooks College Prep, Murray Language Academy, Walter Payton College Prep, Jones College Prep, Franklin Fine Arts Center, Mount Carmel High School, Gary Comer College Prep, and Hawthorne Scholastic Academy.

Faith in Place, CIMBY (Calumet is my Back Yard), and REACH (Refugee Education and Adventure Challenge).

Thank you to Indigo Wall, Lane Tech College Prep student, for designing our logo and t-shirt this year.

Our Speakers

Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Commissioner Spyropoulos has been instrumental in championing the MWRD’s mission to protect public health and safety, protect the quality of Chicago’s water supply source and watercourses, to protect us from flooding, and to manage water as a vital resource.

Sarah Rosengard is an oceanographer and Assistant Professor of environmental chemistry at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sarah splits her time teaching environmental chemistry to art and design students, creating climate change curricula that combines science and studio art, and researching the Chicago River’s chemistry.

Educator of the Year

Lynette Thomas, Kenwood Academy High School


Alderman Matt Martin, 47th Ward of the City of Chicago
Sally Fletcher, Friends of the Chicago River Board President
Grant Crowley, Friends of the Chicago River Board

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

Thank you to the Chicago Park District, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the River Park Advisory Council, the Chicago Maritime Arts Musuem, Laurie Nelson, Kana Hutchens, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Thank you for the support of the Illinois Depeartment of Natural Resources, Coastal Zone Management Program for funding this year’s Student Congress.

Students from Gage Park High School take a bow after putting on a skit about water quality

“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