Path to Leadership in Lowell

Group of students from Lowell

While our wildlife sanctuaries have physical borders, the work each one does often extends far beyond those boundaries. Drumlin Farm’s outreach in Lowell is a good example.

In 2005 Drumlin Farm and the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust joined forces to offer after-school environmental programming in Lowell. As the partnership developed, our educators were able to reach more Lowell youth through a variety of programs including Spindle City Corps (SCC) summer program. Among the participants was Bora Poun.

Bora, whose family came to Lowell from Cambodia, always enjoyed being outside but knew little about conservation. “When they first brought us together, they asked ‘What does it mean to conserve?’” Bora told a group at the 2014 Land Trust Rally. “As a kid, I thought it meant going around hugging and watering trees.”

His involvement in SCC led to his becoming an inaugural member of the Lowell Leaders in Stewardship (LLS), a year-round after-school environmental education program that formed in 2014 thanks to funding from the Lowell Public Schools and the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Youthreach Initiative.

As part of SCC and LLS, Bora often took the lead in the removal of non-native species, planting of flowers for pollinators, and river stewardship. “Bora has always been a hardworking team member,” says Sally Farrow, Drumlin Farm’s Outreach Coordinator. “These programs provided Bora with the opportunity to develop his confidence and leadership skills, which enabled him to become an excellent teacher and role model for young students in Lowell.”

Bora attended UMass Lowell and worked for Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust as an after-school teacher and mentor to the next generation. Bora concluded his speech at the Rally by saying: “Now when I am asked ‘What does it mean to conserve?’ I can finally say it’s about finding that fine balance between humans and nature and learning to get along.”

Thanks to Bora, more young students are following in his footsteps, serving to protect Lowell’s river and green spaces for future generations.