ALTON - Earlier this spring, Jolena Pang joined the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) education team as an environmental educator.

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She will be responsible for leading tours of the NGRREC facility for students of all ages and community members.

“I hope to make the community more cognizant of the environmental issues facing our rivers and watersheds, and what that means for them,” Pang said. “And I hope to help inspire and motivate the community into positive action.”

Prior to joining NGRREC, Pang completed a master's degree in political ecology and environmental justice in Barcelona, where she lived for the past few years. Pang also worked as a community organizer for the Wilderness Society, where she engaged over 600 grassroots supporters and led events focused on bringing a more diverse and inclusive perspective to conservation.

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“The best part of being an environmental educator is getting a chance to teach kids about the most pressing issues of our time, like climate change, water scarcity and environmental racism, as well as a chance to teach them how to take action, whether it be through research, stewardship, citizen science skills, and so on,” she said. “I think that teachers set the foundations for future generations, and I feel lucky to be a part of that through NGRREC.”

Pang is looking forward to engaging with students from Lewis and Clark and many other regional institutions and hopes they feel welcome to come by and chat and learn about the research being done at NGGREC.

Visit to learn more about NGRREC’s education programs or contact Environmental Educator Erica Doerr at

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC)

Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them. The center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities.

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