Press Release

WCLT Awards Two Scholarships

In 2012, the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) marked its 15th anniversary by awarding two $1,000 scholarships to graduating Westborough High School (WHS) seniors. The awards went to the winners of WCLT’s 2012 Earth Day Essay Contest, Jamie Gagliano and Kyle Ashworth, in recognition of their deep appreciation and concern for the natural environment.

“We expanded our scholarship program as one aspect of our increased community presence,” said WCLT president John Metzger. “We are pleased to mark our 15th anniversary by giving two scholarships instead of one and by increasing the scholarship amount.”

Jamie’s essay focused on Sandra Pond and the Westborough Conservation Area with its pink lady’s-slippers. She will attend Colgate University in the fall.

Kyle’s essay discussed development, conservation, and recycling of houses in Westborough. He plans to study motorcycle technology at WyoTech in Daytona Beach, FL.

Two seniors received honorable mentions for their essays. Elizabeth Anderson, who will attend Tufts University, wrote about the value of Lake Chauncy. Michael Bogoian-Mullen, who will be a student at Northeastern University’s Honor College, described the power of his generation to make a difference in favor of sustainability by working together and by finding unexpected personal benefits in many small lifestyle decisions.

“From reading the essays, the Scholarship Committee can tell how important the students’ families are in fostering love and respect for the natural environment and in encouraging a sustainable lifestyle,” said Annie Reid of the Scholarship Committee. “We also see the valuable role of the schools and scouting organizations in promoting and reinforcing these values.”

Jamie Gagliano's Earth Day Essay 2012:

Sandra Pond

The pastels of a summer sunset fade as the moon rises. The gurgle of water against the shore and the whir of my father’s fishing pole were the only sounds to intrude on the silence. I’ve spent countless summer evenings like this one. If I turn around, I face trails that I’ve hiked a thousand times, and could navigate through them in the dark. The wind rustles the needles of the pine, like a whispered secret being passed through the forest that I have heard before but still do not understand. The spongy, damp ground beneath my palms cools me down after a day spent in the glaring blaze of the summer sun. I close my eyes and relax as the world around me moves slowly.

This is Sandra Pond: my second home. I’ve spent my entire living memory on the shores of this lake. Sandra Pond has played an important role in my life, as well as being an ecological gem to Westborough, as it is one of the few areas where a Pink Lady Slipper can grow.

The Westborough Conservation Area will always hold a special place in my heart. Over the years I have grown to view these woods as a second home. From frequent fishing trips, to Recreation Summer Camp, I have spent much of my time on those winding trails. The woods are enchanting to me; especially one particularly wide path, with impossibly tall evergreens shading the area, and the bright green ferns catch every ray of sunlight and reflect the light back into your eyes. The Conservation Area has inspired me in many walks of life: to do a research project on my own, begin an environmental neighborhood newsletter, and take a trash bag to clean up litter. The Reservoir has always been a place of peace for me: a place where I can wind down and be alone with my thoughts. There I am utterly tranquil.

In fourth grade, I did a research project on the Pink Lady Slipper, which I first came across in The Reservoir. This was entirely on my own, though I did end up presenting my findings to my homeroom. The Pink Lady Slipper is endangered in our area because they take such a long time to mature into a plant and people like to collect the beautiful orchid. For its population of Pink Lady slippers alone, the Sandra Pond Conservation Area is a natural gem. When I did my report on Pink Lady Slippers several years ago, I counted nearly one hundred Pink Lady Slippers. Given the fairly small acreage of the Conservation Area, that is an incredible number of specimens.

The Sandra Pond Conservation Areas is one of the last untouched places in Westborough. So many acres of beautiful New England forests have been cut down to make room for Westborough’s ever-expanding population. These woods are peaceful; a way to escape from the world for just an hour or two. The only reminder of the outside world is the dull hum of the Mass Pike. The Conservation Area is a place for reflection and recreation, and to me that makes it Westborough’s greatest natural gem.

The Westborough Conservation Area has given me many fond memories, and I want later generations to experience the joy it has given me. For this reason, I do not hesitate to pick up any garbage I find in the Conservation Area. It is an important place to protect for ecological and recreational reasons. The Westborough Conservation Area is an elaborate ecosystem, and like all ecosystems, is very fragile. The best way to protect this ecosystem is education. When I began a newsletter with my neighbor about the environment this was our goal: to educate people in the neighborhood about how to protect the world in which we live. In doing that report on the endangerment of the Pink Lady Slipper, I like to believe I kept a fellow student from plucking a fragile and rare flower from one of the few places it can grow in our area. The Westborough Conservation Area has been a part of my life for a very long time, and I hope that it will be as important to someone else down the line as it has been to me.

Kyle Ashworth's Earth Day Essay 2012:

Sustainable Living in Westborough and Beyond

Growing up in Westborough I have seen many changes in the town. I live on Glen Street, just past Glenrock Farms which is owned and operated by my dear grandparents. I can remember as a child, my parents or grandparents would take me out on a bicycle ride through the neighborhood. We would pedal, pedal, pedal, and no matter which way we travelled we would always come across a new house. A few weeks later, we would pedal, pedal, pedal again and find that that one new house now had a few new houses behind it, and a new street! I can remember asking, “How did they pave such a wide street, and build so many houses? Where are all the trees?”

At the time, I did not understand that these trees had been cut down and sent to mills throughout the state to be processed and turned into lumber and other useful products. I also didn’t understand why my parents or grandparents always had a solemn look on their faces when they’d see all these new housing developments. Now that I am older, I understand it. They grew up in Westborough when the town was much bigger and spread out. People’s yards actually had trees between them. Now driving through the old neighborhoods, you can still feel that “old town” feel. Then you’ll come up on a couple of housing developments. They don’t even blend in. The houses’ shape and sizes all match, all you have to do is pick your color.

The amount of land that is wasted for these houses is not thought of. Yes, a new house is a great thing for a new family in town and I am not against that. But when you go down the street and notice more “For Sale” signs than you do flowers and bushes in front yards, you ask yourself how come a new housing development is going in on the other side of town? Rather than cut down trees and use more land, can we not recycle these houses that are for sale? I would imagine it’s cheaper to buy a house that is built than it is to construct a new road and build another neighborhood.

Many people are concerned with fossil fuel and green house gasses. Those are legitimate concerns. But at the same time, these are the people that drive by all the “For Sale” signs and ignore them. Houses need to be resold to new people and families rather than having them sit vacant, on land, whilst another house is built next door, on more land. People have always told me to set up investments for myself to help me sustain my life in the future. The first thing they say to invest in is land. The value of land itself will always continue to rise because there is less and less available land in this town. However they are thinking about it backwards. The only way investing in land can help me financially in the future, would be to sell it. What happens to unused land that is for sale? Well, it is bought and built on. More houses, for more people, next to more houses that are still for sale and sitting on land of their own.

The concept of conservation is a wonderful idea. In fact, my grandparents plan to retire soon. As I mentioned they own a very nice farm with acres and acres of land that is spread out throughout our end of Westborough. Yes, the farm is for sale. With all of that available land, many people planned on building houses and housing developments. The proudest thing I have ever experienced is when my grandparents explained the laws and official town documents they have acquired. All this paperwork will protect that land for all the years into the future. It can be farmed, turned into a park, or anything like that, but my grandparents’ land will never be built on. It makes me proud to say that they are conserving their land. They are helping to save Westborough from becoming filled with vacant houses. Most importantly, they are providing an example for the generations to come. Someday, a child will be out pedaling, pedaling, pedaling his bicycle with his parents, and they’ll come upon a great open field with thriving trees and wildlife surrounding it. The child will ask, “Where are the houses?” And I hope that the parent will proudly say, “Never here.”

Westborough Community Land Trust, PO Box 838, Westborough , MA 01581
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