ESI guest post: The nitrogen cycle and how it affects different organisms

This is a guest post from Spencer, a 2022 Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) fellow. ESI fellows design and carry out a capstone project during a six-week summer program. Spencer created a video exploring the nitrogen cycle and the health of aquariums and how that compares to the Mississippi River. (Note: Opinions expressed in ESI projects are those of the program participant and do not necessarily represent those of FMR.) 

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For my final project, I made a documentary on the comparisons between the nitrogen cycles of my two fish tanks at home and in the Mississippi River.

Why I chose this project

I chose this project because I already had a lot of experience and knowledge about nitrogen cycles in aquariums, and I wanted to learn more about wild nitrogen cycles. I felt that I could be a good resource on this topic.

What I hope you take away

You cannot ethically keep fish as pets without knowing about the nitrogen cycle, because knowing about the nitrogen cycle is important to keeping them healthy. Also, the amount of fuel we use as an energy resource is bad not only for the environment in general but also for the nitrogen cycle.


Most of the things I do in life are related to the pets I have. Some of the pets I have are different types of bugs, reptiles, fish and invertebrates. It was interesting to connect my knowledge about animals and the nitrogen cycle to learn about the Mississippi River, something I didn't know as much about.

Join us

FMR created the Environmental Stewardship Institute to address the gap between environmental education and a career path in the environmental field. We hold a summer intensive program and a school-year youth advisory council. Learn more about the 2022 ESI summer program, including other final projects.

FMR's Environmental Stewardship Insitute is part of our larger Stewardship & Education program. Check out our other opportunities for youth and for all ages to get involved with FMR.

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