WCLT Scholarships Awarded
WCLT Awards Two Scholarships for Earth Day Essays in 10th Year of Scholarship Program
The Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) announced that it has awarded two scholarships and two honorable mentions to graduating seniors in Westborough in the tenth year of its scholarship program. The scholarships were awarded on the basis of essays written for WCLT’s annual Earth Day essay contest in March.
The year 2015 also marks the first time that the essay contest and scholarships were open not only to Westborough High School (WHS) seniors but also to graduating seniors who live in Westborough but attend a high school other than Westborough High School.
Margaret Baldwin and Scott McCullough, both of Westborough High School, won scholarships. Erica Christensen of St. Mark’s School and Stephen J. Falvey of WHS were recognized with honorable mentions.
Margaret Baldwin’s essay described her interest in helping people learn about the plants, animals, and history of Gilmore Pond and her project of preparing an interactive trail guide for that purpose. She will attend Rice University in the fall.
Scott McCullough wrote an essay about his interest in sharing the enjoyment of nature he experienced on the Charm Bracelet trails around Mill Pond and his project of building raised garden beds for residents of the Bridge in Westborough. He plans to attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
In her essay, Erica Christensen discussed the impacts of the everyday behaviors of average Americans on places such as Mill Pond, its trails, and Veterans’ Freedom Park.
Stephen Falvey wrote about his personal experience growing up near Mill Pond and learning to keep the area clean and to recycle whenever possible.
“It’s interesting to realize that this year’s seniors, born in 1996 or 1997, are essentially the same age as WCLT, founded in 1997,” said Annie Reid, acting chair of the WCLT Scholarship Committee. “These young people have basically grown up with WCLT in town. They’ve enjoyed and learned from its trails and projects and the open space areas in Westborough, and it is gratifying to read what they have to say about how their outdoor experiences have influenced them.”
Margaret Baldwin's Earth Day Essay 2015:
Protection of Westborough's natural heritage and special places: Describe a place in Westborough that you think is especially important to protect, and explain why. Propose ways to protect or sustain this place or others that are part of Westborough’s natural heritage, and describe how you have or can help.
Over the years, my family and I have hiked on most of the Charm Bracelet and Gilmore Pond has become one of my favorite places. It’s quiet, calm, and beautiful, but I only just learned about Gilmore Pond when I started working on my Girl Scout Gold Award last year. I wanted to do something for the WCLT because my family and I have always enjoyed spending time on the Charm Bracelet. As soon as I contacted the WCLT and learned about Gilmore Pond and started spending time there, I immediately came to appreciate its calmness and beauty and was excited to be able to do my Gold Award there. I think Gilmore Pond and other places like it in Westborough are important because even though we’re surrounded by the craziness of development and suburban life, there’s always somewhere to go when you want to be with nature. Not every town has as much protected land for its residents to make use of as we do and I think we are really lucky that the Charm Bracelet is here in Westborough. For that reason, it’s essential that we protect and preserve these places not only because of the wildlife and the fascinating history behind them but also because they are valuable resources for the community.
I think the biggest problem for places like Gilmore Pond is that people aren’t aware of them. Even though I’ve lived in Westborough for most of my life and have hiked the majority of trails here, I still didn’t know about the pond until I contacted the WCLT about my project. In my opinion, the best way to address the problem and preserve places like Gilmore Pond is to spread the word and get people outside to lean about the area so that they can truly appreciate the history and the wildlife. That’s why, for my Gold Award, I’m working on an interactive trail guide that will be available to people on their smart-phones. It seems to me that if people went to Gilmore Pond and spent some time there to learn about its wildlife and fascinating history, they would become invested in protecting the area. My trail guide is going to include information about the plants and animals and the history of the pond and my hope is that people will want to try it out. Once people see the pond and learn about it they might become invested in its protection. Hopefully when I finish my project, more people will be interested in Gilmore Pond and its preservation and maybe other Girl Scouts or people in Westborough will do similar projects for other areas in Westborough. The more people that are involved in the preservation of these areas, the more help these areas will receive from the community. I can’t wait to finish my Gold Award and really hope that it will help Gilmore Pond and that more people will come to appreciate it. I am so glad that I have always had places like Gilmore Pond available to me and hope that they will be available to Westborough residents for many years to come.
Scott McCullough's Earth Day Essay 2015:
An experience or place in Westborough: Describe an experience or place in Westborough that has brought you close to nature or has inspired you to see the world from an environmentally conscious perspective. Explain why and note anything you have done or plan to do as a result.
One of the most enjoyable things for any 6 year old is playing outside during the summer. No school, no homework, just hours upon hours of fun in the big world. Going for a walk on the Charm Bracelet Trail around Mill Pond was one of the best things to do during the summer. A few times a week, my mom would bring my sister and me down for a walk. I can remember the sights, a salamander skittering across the leaves, the smells of pine and soil, the sounds of birds chirping in the trees and the swooshing of the leaves in the wind. Walking through those woods was always an adventure. One day we would pretend that we were explorers, searching for the best leaf of them all. Another day we would see who could walk longer walking heel-to-toe. One time we saw a red fox bounce its way across the trail, up through the dense foliage, out of sight. On another occasion we saw a water snake by the pond, initially mistaking it for a poisonous water moccasin; it was really just a non-venomous water snake.
The best place was the bridge that went across the river at the end of the trail. There were telephone poles that went across the water. I would sit down on the poles and listen to the babbling brook, running down along banks of rich, green vegetation. It was fun to have these different ventures into the woods, but the thing that I remember the best is peace. Just being in those woods, there wouldn’t be cars bustling around, construction workers building, phones ringing.
I loved that trail and being a Tiger Cub Scout at the time, I learned that one of the most important things we do as boy scouts is give back to our communities. We put a lot of effort into helping to maintain our town’s parks and nature reserves. One such event was to help clean up the Charm Bracelet Trail. We helped by cleaning up the trail itself to make it easier to use, collecting some of the trash that was littered across the trail, and repairing some rotted out boards. It was pleasing to be able to give back to the trail that continues to bring me joy and peace. The cleaning of the trail gave me the inspiration for my eventual Eagle Project. I built raised garden beds for the Bridge in Westborough to help the residents there grow their own vegetables and vegetation. In a small way, the building of those garden beds helped to conserve nature’s gifts. Nature provides us with plentiful gifts, and it is imperative for us to do our share to help protect what we have. It is important for us to preserve these spaces for not only our enjoyment, but also for future generations. Walking through The Charm Bracelet trail once again in my Senior year, I am glad that others have given thought to creating these spaces for not only my enjoyment, but the enjoyment of all.