WCLT Scholarships Awarded
In June 2013 the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) was pleased to award two scholarships and one honorable mention to graduating Westborough High School (WHS) seniors. Selections were made on the basis of essays that seniors submitted in WCLT’s annual Earth Day essay contest.
Isla Duckett won a scholarship for her essay proposing an incentive program for student athletes, their coaches, and town businesses to work together to pick up and recycle the plastic water bottles that litter the playing fields and surroundings after sporting events. She will attend St. Andrews University in Scotland.
Jennifer Reilly received a scholarship for her essay suggesting that the Westborough Reservoir be celebrated by the community through activities that increase its popularity and use while promoting healthy habits and an appreciation of nature. She plans to attend Allegheny College and pursue a degree in environmental science.
Erin Reynolds was recognized with an honorable mention for her essay describing a special meadow and adjacent undeveloped land near her neighborhood and suggesting the area as one worthy of preservation. She will attend college and plans to study environmental engineering or biology.
“This year we received a fine group of essays that showed us how much Westborough’s natural environment has meant to young people who have grown up with it,” said Annie Reid of the WCLT Scholarship Committee. “Parents and townspeople shouldn’t doubt that their kids love playing outside in the woods and fields and that the track team enjoys practicing at Veterans Freedom Park.”
Isla Duckett's Earth Day Essay 2013:
Earth Day Essay: An Environmental Issue in Westborough
Having grown up and spent my entire life in Westborough, I am filled with many mixed emotions as I anticipate my departure from my home town. I am excited, nervous, and full of anxious anticipation and a bit of trepidation as I find myself heading off to college. I will miss many things about Westborough.
However, what I will not miss about our town is the seemingly never-ending waste, neglect and disregard for the environment in the very places that have been the sites of many of my happiest memories. The Town of Westborough, and in particular the Westborough Community Land Trust, strives to acquire and maintain the town’s green spaces to preserve wildlife, protect natural resources, and provide open areas for residents to enjoy. Unfortunately, I have seen countless examples of littering in natural spaces, for example at the reservoir, around the banks of Mill Pond, and along paths that make up portions of the “Charm Bracelet.” The most common offender is the empty plastic water bottle that is left behind after sporting events: under bleachers, in dugouts, and in the grass and trees of our school playgrounds, soccer and baseball fields. The problem seems to have reached epidemic proportions due to the necessity for athletes to hydrate, the convenience of bottled water, and the growing athletic programs in Westborough.
The nearby town of Concord, MA recently voted to ban the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles. Another campaign, “Ban the Bottle,” claims that 17 million barrels of oil per year are needed to produce all the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. alone. This campaign states that Americans have consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water in a year. Most of these bottles end up in landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency states that the United States alone generated 31 million tons of plastic waste in a year. These huge amounts of plastic can be efficiently recycled, but left to waste will take approximately 1,000 years to biodegrade. These statistics portray just how detrimental the littering of plastic bottles can be to our planet, and the desperate need to recycle and reuse this plastic.
I believe the town of Westborough, through awareness and education, should implement measures to address this growing problem. Ideally, we would all have reusable non-plastic bottles that we would continually reuse after each sporting event. Until the time arrives that plastic bottles are no longer used, I would like to propose an incentive program to improve the situation.
As part of the privilege of participating in any of the town’s well run sports programs each player for specific games would have the responsibility of collecting all plastic water bottles at the end of that particular game. In addition to uniforms and equipment, each team would be supplied with a specially colored bag at the beginning of each season provided by each league. Coaches would then create a bottle collection and recycle schedule. At some point prior to the next game, the designated recycler would need to bring the recyclables to the town recycling center (the dump) where the collected plastic bottles would be recycled in exchange for a voucher for a free item at a participating town business. Examples of these businesses could include Dairy Queen (ice cream for summer athletics) or Panera (hot chocolate for winter athletics). The recycling center would bear the cost of vouchers but would gain the benefit of recycling large amounts of plastic.
Through this system, our athletic facilities and Westborough environment would remain pristine. Athletes would be responsible for their own playing fields, while becoming environmentally educated. Participating local businesses would be recognized as socially responsible organizations that care about the community.
The entire Westborough community and environment would benefit from this program. Westborough athletes would be taught to take care of their facilities as well as take care of the Earth. Through this program, children would be taught the responsibility of preserving our environment at an early age, creating an environmentally aware and friendly generation. The benefits from the program would be reaped for decades to come and result in a healthier Earth and more environmentally conscious society.
Jennifer Reilly's Earth Day Essay 2013:
Earth Day Essay
When asking high school seniors what their favorite place in Westborough is, you will most likely receive a slew of restaurants, diners, stores, or maybe no response at all. When asking myself the same question, it is without hesitation the reservoir. The winding walking paths and calming rippling pond sets the reservoir high above any other spot in Westborough. It even beats out the cheese fries at Harry’s. The naturally occurring beauty of the reservoir is reason enough for every member of our community to volunteer their time and effort in to preserving this irreplaceable wonder.
From a young age I can remember setting aside sunny summer afternoons to join my family in taking my dogs on a walk around the reservoir. It was and still is a treasured tradition that my dogs greatly appreciate. Today I like to enjoy warm summer sunsets with friends from the benches along the shore of Sandra Pond. We even go so far as to call ourselves “rezrats” because of the amount of times we find ourselves ending up there. However, the reservoir is more than a hangout; it is a soothing remedy for fast-paced life and a natural escape from our materialistic society. In this developing and innovative world, I feel it is extremely important to keep the conservation of our natural resources at the top of our list of concerns because these are the things that cannot reappear once they are destroyed. These are the things that need our help.
Looking on a small scale, the reservoir is one of the few places in Westborough that offer a completely natural setting. Being a reservoir, it is already protected by the town, but I would love to see it celebrated by our community. Advertising its versatility and organizing community activities will add to the reservoir’s popularity and use, while promoting healthy habits and an appreciation of nature. The reservoir is ideal for picnics, playtime, meeting friends, and spending quality time with family. If the reservoir becomes important to the majority of the community, then it will be much easier to rally participation for community cleanups and other nature projects not only at the reservoir but at other locations around town. I have often on my walks felt obligated to pick up any discarded trash I find and although a few wrappers may seem small, everything makes a difference when added together. If we can start changing people’s perception and organizing small alterations for the reservoir, then this will ultimately lead to an enormous difference made in the welfare of our natural community.
In this modern and changing world, we often lose sight of the things that are truly important. One of the most important and rewarding things in my life is the preservation of our world’s natural beauty. It is a privilege to enjoy this world as it was made and it is my wish that future generations can enjoy the same privilege. I hope that by pursuing a degree in environmental science, I will be able to make a positive change for the well-being of our natural home, whether it be picking up a few discarded wrappers or saving acres of rainforest.