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Student group focuses on rainforest project in East Africa

Posted: 04/19/2013

There’s a new drink on the menu at the popular Penny’s Noodle Shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood called the Rainforest Passion and anyone who orders it will be helping Roosevelt University students with their work next month protecting rainforest in the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.

Made with Medori, vodka, maraschino, cherry juice, sour mix and served in a martini glass, the green drink was concocted by a group of students in biology professor Norbert Cordeiro’s Conservation Biology Africa 369 class as a vehicle for raising funds for their upcoming May 8-21 trip to Tanzania. It costs $7 and $3 of every drink sold goes toward the project that is engaging students in the classroom while giving them hands-on conservation training in the field.
 “We’ve been learning in class about the biology and conservation of where we will be going and we need to raise money before we go in order to be able to help reforest a deforested region in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania,” said Aslyn Cummings, a biology major and president of RU Reforesting, a new student organization that came up with the idea for the Rainforest Passion and other fundraising vehicles.

The group, which will have a booth soliciting donations to build a colorful tree at Friday’s Math and Science Symposium on the 10th floor of the Wabash Building, has nine members including Cummings; biology majors Vildan Gorener, Kristy Stenson, Corinna Dampf and Funmi Masha; sustainability studies majors Nicole Burns and Josh Campbell; allied health and math technology major Teodora Monoski; and graduate biology student Sehira Lambert.

These students will be working with the Rainforest Conservation Fund and members of the local community in Tanzania’s East Usambara Mountains to plant seedlings of native and cash crop trees baand cash crops on abandoned farmland, which can be a buffer zone for dwindling rainforest in the region.
“This is a student-led initiative that is going to have an impact on the environment and on local communities in eastern Africa,” said Cordeiro.

Hoping to raise $10,000 for the sustainability of the project, the group is also paving the way for future students taking Cordeiro’s Conservation Biology Africa 369-469 class to follow its footstep and continue on with the plantings in Tanzania in coming years.

“These students are helping to build small meaningful  international collaborations,” added Cordeiro. “The work they are doing is a phenomenal example of who we are at Roosevelt University.”

Donations can be made by visiting the group’s website at  In addition, three percent of every purchase made on using the group’s fundinco account at also will go toward the initiative.