Kankakee Paleo Project

Project Overview

The Grand Kankakee Marsh once covered 1000 mi2 of northwestern Indiana and was known as the “Everglades of the North” for its rich biodiversity. Late 19th century resource exploitation and drainage included channelizing the Kankakee River, irreversibly disturbing the Marsh. How has deposition and vegetation varied across the Kankakee Marsh over millennia in response to climate change? My approach to this question involved a field campaign to northwestern Indiana in June 2019 with students, who have since developed senior capstone projects of their own. In Spring 2020, an interactive map of land-use change and geography K-12 curriculum on our results will be developed. This work is funded by National Geographic Society grant EC-55150R-18 and is planned for 2019-2020.

If you’d like to be on my list-serv for the latest on project updates and upcoming webinars, please provide your contact info at the bottom of this page.

Research updates

December 2020

U Maine News published an article on the curriculum work students Bell Gellis Morais and Mo Weitman completed in summer-fall 2020. Thank you to journalist Brian Jansen, and Bell and Mo for initiating this effort!
UMaine students’ curriculum design projects highlight past, present of the ‘Everglades of the North’

October 2020

I am closing in on the project end date (October 31). On October 16, I led our fall webinar on project updates including student work. Video and transcript are available to view until Nov. 1 here. [updated 12/15/2021 – webinar slides available here]

1) Curriculum students have completed their work, with K-12 modules posted to Teach the Earth at the Science Education Resource Center and C3 Teachers. Topics and grade level include:

Glacial processes and the deglaciation of Northern Indiana [SERC, grades 9-12, by Mo Weitman)

Human impact on dynamic ecosystems [.pdf] (9-12, by Mike Cianchette)

Grand Kankakee Marsh land use and change history [.pdf] (4, by Maija Overturf)

Lasting human impacts on the Grand Kankakee Marsh [.pdf] (6-8, by Bell Gellis Morais)

2) The manuscript on soil properties in dredged and non-dredged areas, led by Jack Ferrara, has been published in Wetlands!

Raw datasets available include:  Site Classification [.xlsx]   Statistical Results [.xlsx]   Calculations [.txt]

3) Meredith Helmick, summer 2019 fieldwork student from Concord University, has joined the School of Earth and Climate Sciences graduate program here at U Maine. She continues her work in tephrachronology with Dr. Andrei Kurbatov.

June 2020

I sent out a call to hire U Maine undergrad student part-time to assist with the curriculum development component of the project. Qualifications include coursework in environmental change and/or K-12 education, and full-time enrollment for fall semester. Work can start mid-July and be done remotely. See the full job ad here.

Summer fieldwork student Jack Ferrara has led a manuscript submission to Wetlands on his capstone project!

January 2020

The National Geographic funding supporting this project comes from the Early Career Grant program. I had the opportunity to blog about this program and our fieldwork for another community I am involved in, the Past Global Changes Early Career Network (PAGES ECR). You can read my post at “The Early Pages” here.

November 2019

Webinar on project overview, fieldwork outcomes, and student Jack Ferrara presents the results of his capstone project entitled “Impacts of Dredging on Soil Properties of the Kankakee River System 150 Years after Perturbation”

Watch online – video and transcript hosted at via Zoom @ U Maine

 download video file [.mp4] warning! This file is 253 MB

download audio transcript [.pdf]

June 2019

Dispatches from the field! Here are a series of twitter threads during fieldwork:

[ June 13 ]  [ June 15 ]  [ June 17 ]  [ June 22 ]

Sign up for project updates, including webinars in 2020: