High School Lake Ecology (HSLE)

Have you ever kayaked through a sea cave or explored North America’s largest freshwater lake? Join us as we discover the beauties of Lake Superior's natural treasures while learning about aquatic science and exploring the ecology of the Great Lakes region in the Apostle Islands with Shedd Aquarium staff members. No camping or kayaking experience necessary.

Click here to read reflections from previous HSLE participants!

Environmental education programs are powered in part by support from Exelon.


2018 applications are now closed.

Age and Requirements

High school teens (minimum of 14 years old) with an interest in connecting with local environments - Must have completed one year of high school science before the program.

Must permanently reside in Illinois or immediate surrounding states

Program Dates

2018 dates:

Program orientation at Shedd Aquarium
Thursday, May 17, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Pre-trip session at Shedd Aquarium
Wednesday, July 11-13, 2017, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Field component in the Apostle Islands, Bayfield, Wisconson
Tuesday, July 17-24, 2017

Post-trip sessions at Shedd Aquarium
Friday, July 27 and Monday July 30, 2018, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mentor programs: End-of-summer celebration at Shedd Aquarium
Thursday, August 9, evening

Program Cost

Rate: $1,200 a person


Full and partial scholarships are available based on family financial need. Apply during program registration.


The program covers tuition, textbooks, additional readings, transportation to and from field program sites, meals while traveling and camping in the Apostle Islands, specialized outdoor equipment, instruction and support from Shedd Aquarium and Wilderness Inquiry mentors.

Not Included

Room and board while in Chicago.

Physical Requirements

Must be comfortable near water and open to outdoor living experiences; no kayaking or camping experience necessary. Applicants should have the capability and endurance to participate in outdoor physical activities such as hiking, kayaking and backpacking.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

Please review our refund and cancellation policy.


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Program outcomes

Every Shedd program is evaluated so we never stop learning from you. Here’s what we’ve learned from our participants about High School Lake Ecology:  

• Teens connect with nature in a way that sparks questions and encourages personal investigation.

• Teens are empowered to live and work with peers in the outdoors, truly becoming at home on the Great Lakes.

• Teens gain confidence in using scientific skills by conducting science research in an authentic, inspiring environment that is both distinct from and related to home.

• Teens increase their understanding of Great Lakes ecosystems and how their own actions and choices make a difference in the natural world.

Report Highlights

What our participants had to say

I feel more connected to nature now and feel as if it should be an important part of my life. This program strengthened my love of science even more because of the program."

“For me the most fascinating aspect of the Great Lakes, or aquatic science in general, is the fact that there is always something to be discovered.”