WCLT 2011 Scholarship Awarded
As the winner of WCLT’s Earth Day essay contest, Nicole Benoit received the 2011 Westborough Community Land Trust Scholarship at graduation. This award recognizes a deep appreciation and concern for the natural environment on the part of a graduating Westborough High School senior.
Nicole’s essay focused on growing up in the out-of-doors and the need to protect Westborough’s backyards and open space.
In the fall Nicole plans to attend the University of Delaware to study business, hospitality, and environmental science to become a "green" event planner.
Another senior, Christopher Smith of 16 Butterfield Drive, received honorable mention for his essay about the lifestyle and other changes that people of his generation can make to live more sustainably on Earth.
The Scholarship Committee enjoyed reading all the Earth Day essays and thanks the WHS seniors who entered the contest for their skill and commitment in communicating their feelings and concerns about Westborough’s environment.
Nicole Benoit’s Earth Day Essay 2011:
Protection of Westborough’s Natural Heritage and Special Places
Trail-mix, juice boxes, a whistle, bug spray, paper, and a pencil all went into the backpack. I was prepared for my great adventure. I bid farewell to my mom, promised to be back for lunch, and started hiking- across the street to my neighbor’s backyard. Behind their humble house I frequently entered the woods, crossed the small stream, and reached my destination: open space. There was a small lake surrounded by woods and paths that backed up to the open field on Smith Street. Whether it was trying to build a shelter out of sticks, seeing how far I could walk on the paths, or playing on the ice in the winter, I just loved being outside and limitless.
One day I decided that I would explore the untouched woods to the right of the lake for a change. Excited by curiosity and adventure, I moved quickly to see where I would end up. After a while I started to see an opening; I aimed towards it. When I emerged from the woods I was startled to see the unnatural gleam off of a parking lot full of cars. I felt like I was at the edge of two different worlds. One was full of life, all green and moving with different animals. The other one was black cement, shiny metal, and brick buildings of the Route Nine Office parks. Suddenly my place of escape did have boundaries. Then I remember a house was recently built in the open field. I started wondering where I would play if houses and offices kept being built.
Being able to play outside amidst the plants, animals, and fresh air can almost sum up my childhood. It taught me independence and creativity. Even if I wasn’t “roughing it” in the woods, I was playing capture the flap or kick the can with my neighbors in our backyards. One of my favorite activities was tree-climbing; I even named about five or six trees in my yard. A much anticipated event at my house was the arrival of a mother robin every spring. She builds a nest by our front door and starts her family. For that month, nobody is allowed to use our front door, and we even have footage of the baby birds from several years. Additionally, every Sunday our whole family would take our dogs for a walk at Tufts. While all these things may seem insignificant, they all slowly built my respect for the environment. This respect then translated into wanting to protect it. All children deserve to have this type of childhood. Aside from the health benefits of running around outside, as opposed to sitting inside playing video games, they too will love the natural world around them. Then as they realize that this beautiful world is disappearing, they’ll want to conserve it.
While they may not seem particularly important, our backyards and open space need to be protected. There may not be any endangered species residing behind our houses, but there is the place where our children’s imaginations grow. Westborough is known for being a great suburban, family town. With this reputation, more and more people want to move here, meaning more houses have to go up. At some point we have to regulate this. As president of Westborough High School’s Environmental Club, I try to always raise awareness for the environment. Sometimes it’s hard for people to connect their daily habits to the world problem of global warming. However, it’s easy to see that when a development goes up, some animal’s habitat goes down. Right now, our society is caught up in a vicious cycle: people’s focus is on material objects and consumption, so they spend more time indoors, and then they don’t experience the natural world, and therefore feel no need to conserve it. However, if we start a new cycle with our children it can only improve our environment.