|The 2010 Lowell Youth and the Environment Program participants with NEIWPCC’s YEP coordinator, Gordon Laurendeau (second from right)|
|2007 - Youth and the Environment, Lowell|
|2006 - Youth and the Environment, Lowell|
A Tradition Returns
After a two-year absence, the Youth and the Environment Program returned to Lowell, Mass., in the summer of 2010. For eight weeks, five young people from the Lowell area—Joy Ajama, Abi Martinez Cortes, A.J. Kennedy, Brandon Kennedy, and Alexa McKenzie—worked daily at the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, getting a diverse, hands-on education in all that occurs at a wastewater treatment plant, including pretreatment, process control, maintenance, laboratory operations, and landscaping. The routine included daily lessons on wastewater treatment and other environmental topics, such as the water cycle, water quality, and microscopic aquatic life. Each week, the students went on field trips, visiting educational destinations such as the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire; and the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority’s Deer Island wastewater treatment plant. On August 18, 2010, the five participants received their YEP diplomas at a graduation ceremony in Lowell’s City Hall attended by a number of dignitaries, including Stephen Perkins, director of EPA New England’s Office of Ecosystem Protection.
The Environmental Protection Agency developed YEP to introduce economically disadvantaged inner-city and rural youth to career opportunities in the environmental field by providing them with practical work experience and academic training. The participants are paid as they gain new knowledge, learn new skills, and find out about a rewarding career path. From 1990 to 2007, NEIWPCC coordinated the Lowell program, with help from our partners in the project, EPA, the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, the City of Lowell, and the Career Center of Lowell. A loss of funding led to a two-year hiatus in the program, but it has now resumed, thanks to a $15,000 grant from EPA to NEIWPCC to oversee the Lowell program in 2010 and 2011. Read EPA’s press release about the restoration of funding.
For more information on the Youth and the Environment Program, contact NEIWPCC's Don Kennedy at 978-323-7929.