Environmental Education

Lowell Leaders in Stewardship - Youth Environmental Education Program

         Lowell Leaders in Stewardship is an after-school environmental education program run in partnership with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust (LP&CT) and Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary (Audubon) with support from the Lowell Public Schools.  Since 2005, this program has offered STEM-based environmental education programs at a variety of locations throughout Lowell.  The partnership leverages resources that neither organization could deliver alone; LP&CT provides local knowledge, resources, and partnership collaborations. Audubon staff brings a wealth of natural history knowledge including native wildlife to complement the skills of LP&CT’s staff which are focused on experiential learning and youth engagement.  Together, this program provides youth the opportunity to contribute to improving the world around them in such a way that they can see positive change on the ground.

Learn more about our program background here or check out each of our program sites below.

Climate Change Education

The online educational resource, Conservation in a Changing Climate, currently features our Lowell Leaders in Stewardship program as one of its youth education case studies! We're excited to be included in this effort to promote clear and effective conversations about climate change. Check out our case study and explore other resources for climate change education here.

The Land Trust Alliance's national magazine also published an article about this online resource, and highlights our case study. See the magazine article here.


Spindle City Corps Youth Make an Impact at Hawk Valley Farm - Summer 2015


       Six Spindle City Corps (SCC) students, in partnership with Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, took on the task of completing multiple service learning projects at Hawk Valley Farm one very hot week in early August.  Some projects, such as removing invasive plants from the native walnut trees were deemed necessary due to the health and aesthetics of the trees.  Other, more creative and tangible projects, were all agreed upon by the students as improvements that would expand the overall positive farm experience for visitors as well as provide the students with fun and original projects that they could point to proudly and say, “I helped make that.” 

        Youth participated in a planning process this summer over multiple visits, discussed the feasability of their project ideas, considered the owner's priorities, and developed a supplies list and budget.  Overgrown, immoveable stumps became a safe play area for children.  This natural theme was expanded to create several stepping stone paths made from slices of tree trunks and imbedded into the existing trails while smaller tree stumps were placed along the trails for seating.  The youth designed a simple bench design from the logs of recently felled invasive trees, and Dave Melanson, a volunteer with a generous nature and a knack for wielding a chainsaw, carved their design in place.  Lastly, a child-friendly sign with accompanying signpost was created along with a fun summer scavenger hunt to encourage full exploration of the property.  The SCC students attached an information box to the signpost for Hawk Valley Farm brochures and for storing copies of the scavenger hunt.   A bird’s nest may be on the scavenger hunt but keep an eye out for a new birdhouse as well, an item the students added as a way to encourage the continuation of song birds making the farm their home.  

         Please visit Hawk Valley Farm to see these projects for yourself while enjoying a beautiful, natural piece of conservation land right here in Lowell. 

    Lowell Leaders in Stewardship were featured in the Land Trust Alliance's Saving Land magazine. Read the inspiring article here!


Morey Elementary School - Fall 2014 & Winter 2015


At the C.W. Morey Elementary School, 3rd & 4th graders are diving into the wonderful ecological attributes the New England area has to offer. Students have visited with a number of wildlife such as a Cedar Waxwing and Canada goose to get a better understanding of animal adaptations, habitat needs, and physical characteristics of different species. Through hands on activities students have also been learning about weather and climate, animal and plant survival techniques during winter, healthy soil, and identifying clues left behind by animals in the form of tracks and scat.

Shaughnessy Elementary School - Fall 2014 & Winter 2015

Students at the Shaughnessy Elementary School, grades (1-4), are exploring the natural wonders of Lowell, spending time outdoors to get a breath of fresh air and check out habitats in the school yard. Utilizing journaling and sketching, students are documenting their keen observations of local flora and fauna and are learning the benefits of being a proficient observer and what it takes to be a scientist. This school year they have had wildlife visitors from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm including an American kestrel, Broad-winged hawk, Virginia opossum, Wood turtle, and Corn snake. Wildlife visits give students an opportunity to discuss how wildlife prepares and survive winter through the process of migration, hibernation, and staying active; vermicomposting/composting, how soil is created, and benefits of healthy and abundant soil; habitat components, importance of recognizing and protecting critical habitat components. Students enjoy spending time socializing with fellow classmates and becoming superb scientists!

Greenhalge Elementary School - Summer 2014

     The Trust and Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm in partnership with the City of Lowell Public Schools, developed a summer Service Learning Project focusing on ecosystems at both the Greenhalge & Shaughnessy Elementary Schools.  Students at Greenhalge explored the green space around their school and learned about the trees in the neighborhood.  After doing a bio blitz at the school, they went to Beaver Brook and the Merrimack River to explore the more expansive green spaces and make comparisons between the different habitats. 

Learn more about their work on the SuAsCo River Schools blog.

Shaughnessy Elementary School - Summer 2014

     Students at the Shaughnessy Elementary School explored wetland ecosystems for their service learning project.  Business leaders, city staff, UMass Lowell professors, and community activitists visited students in the classroom and in the field to explore the habitats found at East Pond and to learn about the community issues in the neighborhood.  Students decided to raise awareness of the pond and its important ecological value and they presented their findings to the City Council.  See photos of the event here.

Read more about their work on the SuAsCo River School blog.

Summer Compass Program 2014 - Lowell High School

     Rising 9th graders at the Summer Compass Program at Lowell High School learned about habitats, wildlife, stewardship, and homesteading through hands-on activities and experiments.  One highlight of the program was learning about the importance of trees in our communities.  Students met an American kestrel and screech owl and discussed trees as important components of a habitat.  In addition, students explored the many benefits of trees from shade, to stabilizing soil on river banks, to also understanding their role in the carbon cycle and the effects of climate change.  Students celebrated by planting a red maple tree to replace a tree in the school alley that had died.  In the fall, the tree will be utilized as a teaching tool to study phenology.

Spindle City Corps - Summer 2014

   Spindle City Corps is a summer youth program hosted in partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park and Community Teamwork, Inc. to provide the city’s youth with an opportunity to give back to their community.  The Trust and Mass Audubon Drumlin work with the Spindle City Corps members to learn about the diverse habitats and wildlife around the city and to also design, facilitate, and implement a stewardship project.

   This summer, students examined water quality in four separate locations.  Youth learned about the different factors that affect water quality, conducted several tests (including dissolved oxygen, ph, phosphate, nitrate), and identified macroinvertebrates to help determine the water quality.  The data collected will be shared on the River Schools blog.  In addition, youth collected an abandoned row boat out of the river!

   Spindle City Corps memebers also helped conduct a survey on the American eel population in partnership with the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  Pictured at left, youth are checking the "eel-avators".


Lowell High School Freshman Academy 2013- 2014

In its third year, students at Lowell High’s Freshman Academy are participating in a service-learning project raising two snapping turtles of a “head start” program.  Students received two turtles in the fall and under their care, the turtles (Beyonce and Squirtle) will grow in a protected environment.  Students have learned how to care for the turtles, observe their behavior, and monitor their growth.  Students have presented their work at the Brush Art Gallery's 'In Cold Blood Exhibit' (photo at left).  In the spring, the turtles will be released to their native habitat with an extra fighting chance to survive in the wild.

Youth have also identified a need to implement a bottles & cans recycling program in the school.  Students met with city's recycling coordinator to learn about the city's new single stream recycling program and learned about where our trash goes.  Students hosted an educational campaign for staff & students and also a recycling box design contest.  Youth in the program routinely manage the recycling program throughout the school and are incredibly proud of the work they've accomplished!

This is just a snapshot of the projects completed by the students at Freshman Academy.  Youth have explored the connections between the school and the community, improved the habitats found near the school, and become well spoken advocates for the important natural resources in Lowell.

Learning the carbon cycle Weighing turtles Recycling day!

Robinson Middle School 2013- 2014

Robinson Middle School students explored the school yard habitats, discovered what an animal needs to survive in its habitat, and investigated how native animals survive winter.  Students participated in stewardship projects to improve the schoolyard habitats which included trash pickups and planting annual bulbs in the rain garden.  Students had a special guest visitor talk about local food issues and were treated with  local sweet potatoes, carrots and candied apples. In the fall of 2013, students also measured temperature, leaf color change and leaf drop on two sugar maple trees weekly.  This data was collected and utilized in part of a larger Harvard Forest study.
Learning about wild & domestic animals Local Food Day Stewardship Clean Up

Stoklosa Middle School 2013-2014

Students at the Stoklosa Middle School have spent time learning, sharing, and thinking about where we live and how our connections to the world help shape the environment around us.  Youth are exploring what makes up a habitat and what we as humans, as well as our native wildlife here in Lowell, need in order to survive – shelter, food, and water.  Students have considered questions such as:

· How do both humans and our native wildlife meet our survival needs? 

· How does our need for resources affect an animal’s own habitat and resources?

· How have rivers helped shape the growth of Lowell as a city?

· How do we interact with local wildlife?

Students have gained confidence in studying nature and science, and over the course of the term their curiosity about the world around them has increased immeasurably.  Journals are used to record observations, ask questions and write down thoughts and ideas all of which, as the students have learned, contribute to ongoing citizen science projects.  This helps them improve their data collection, scientific and nature discovery, and observation skills.

Shaughnessy Elementary School 2013-2014

At the Shaughnessy Elementary School students are exploring habitats within their school grounds, looking for clues from animal activities (tracks, scat, and getting food).  Visits from a screech owl, a corn snake, a skunk, a Canadian Goose, and chickens have helped students learn about the differences between domestic and wild animals and native and invasive species.  As part of a citizen science project, students made winter bird feeders to take home or put in the school grounds.   A week later the children shared what visitors that came to their feeders - a list which included robins, sparrows, blue jays and cardinals!



In 2013, the Lowell Leaders in Stewardship Program was recognized by the SuAsCo River Stewardship Council for their dedication and stewardship to the Lowell community. (Photo at left: Youth participating in the Lowell Leaders in Stewardship Program.)

In 2012, students participating in the Lowell Leaders in Stewardship Program were recognized by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas for their hard work, dedication, and stewardship projects on Lowell’s rivers and special places.

April 2009, LP&CT's environmental education program, was awarded honors at the State House from Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles at the "Secretary's Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education".


Outdoor Classroom

Through LLS programming we utilize various outdoor classrooms, otherwise known as local open green spaces, such as LP&CT's conservation lands and local rivers. For more information about our outdoor classrooms and the Concord River Greenway Classroom Web Site - Click Here.

Outdoor Classrooms Include-

  • LP&CT-owned properties, such as West Meadow Conservation Land
  • Concord River Greenway Park
  • Merrimack River Watershed (includes the Concord River and local brooks)
  • Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest
  • Urban habitats of local community centers and school yards
  • Urban forests and parks

LLS Program Handbook

Please take a look at the program handbook (PDF) to find out more about our studies of Lowell's natural side and environmental history.

Our LLS Programming Partner

Lowell Leaders in Stewardship is carried out in partnership with Mass Audubon Society - Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, Massachusetts (Concord River watershed). 


Our Sites

Lowell Leaders in Stewardship is implemented at several sites in Lowell, Massachusetts throughout the school year and summer. Sites (current and past) include:

  • Lowell High School-Freshman Academy-Compass Program (School year and summer programs)
  • Spindle City Corps - Community Teamwork Inc. and Lowell National Historical Park
  • Stoklosa Middle School
  • Shaughnessy Elementary School
  • Greenhalge Elementary School
  • Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell
  • Robinson Middle School
  • McAuliffe Elementary School
  • Wang Middle School
  • Phoenix Ave - Community Teamwork Inc.
  • Bartlett Community Partnership School - UMass Lowell Graduate School
  • Light of Cambodian Children Inc.
  • United Teen Equality Center (UTEC)
  • River Ambassadors - Lowell Telecommunications
  • Lowell High School-Environmental Science Club
  • Voyagers Home School
  • Lowell Association For the Blind
  • Daley Middle School-Community Science Investations
  • Chestnut Square Apartments
  • CTI at the Lincoln School

"Thank You to our members and funders for making these programs possible!"

Cummings Foundation logo       The Cummings Foundation - $100K for 100 grant recipient
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation - Water Resources Grant Initiative.

"This program is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council's YouthReach Initiative."

Women Working Wonders: It is with great appreciation that we thank the Women Working Wonders Fund, who selects one organization each year to receive $5,000. The Trust received this award Spring 2007 for our work with Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell. See then Women Working Wonders Fund on the Greater Lowell Community Foundation Web Site.

We also thank the following for their generous support of LLS: