Big Dreams for the Future: Darrin's Story

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Big Dreams for the Future: Darrin's Story

Darrin Madison is no stranger to the Urban Ecology Center. Having been involved with the Washington Park branch since its opening in 2007, sixteen year-old Darrin has experienced a variety of activities that have helped him grow as an individual and a community member. "The first day I came to the Center, it was during the summer and I was at the Washington Park Library. When I left, I saw a group of kids playing ultimate Frisbee close to the lagoon, and they invited me to play with them. After that, I always spent time here because I love it," Darrin recalls with a grin. After that initial experience, Darrin was hooked. He has remained actively involved over the years through his interaction as a Young Scientists Club member and as a High School Outdoor Leader.

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Over the years, Darrin has had the joy of experiencing many new and exciting opportunities. Before visiting the Center, Darrin had never gone camping. The Urban Ecology Center provided this opportunity for Darrin during his first year as an Outdoor Leader when he and other students went camping in the Porcupine Mountains. Darrin recalls, "It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen." His involvement with the Center has also expanded Darrin's research capabilities. After spending time looking at micro and macro invertebrates under the Center's microscopes, Darrin felt much more prepared for his high school's environmental and biology classes. "The Urban Ecology Center has influenced a whole bunch of aspects of my life, and the experiences I've had here have helped me in a lot of my assignments at school," Darrin says proudly. Darrin even credits the Center in helping him get a prestigious internship at Northwestern Mutual Bank. Darrin recalls, "I learned so many things about business at this internship, and I never would have gotten that experience without all the volunteer interaction I had with the Urban Ecology Center beforehand."

Darrin's continuous involvement at the Center has helped him dream big. He hopes to expand his outreach to others in the community in the years ahead. Initially, Darrin had wanted to go into business, but in large part due to his experiences volunteering at the Center, he now wants to pursue work in other nonprofit areas. "I really want to do something that influences people, and something that has an effect on their lives. Maybe I'll go pre-med in college, or continue doing something in relation to ecology, like being a naturalist or biologist. Maybe even teaching! The Urban Ecology Center has really given me a better and grander appreciation for the things I do and I want to give back," Darrin exclaims with excitement over his endless possibilities as an active community member. Even though his future is bursting with opportunity, Darrin knows one thing for certain. "I'm not going to be leaving the Center anytime soon. The Urban Ecology Center is my family and everybody who comes to it is my family too."

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