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Youth Leadership on Parks

Q&A with Youth Leadership participant, Kimberley N.

Youth leaders study maps
Emerald Necklace Conservancy

| 3 min read

Do you think parks are important? Why or why not?

Kimberly N. (K): Parks hold importance because they can be the central place that holds a city together. Boston is a very diverse city. By having accessible parks, they bring both a community and a relationship between people and the land.

What have you learned about Boston?

K: In the 1870s, the Emerald Necklace park system was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The goal of this system was to loop around Boston and take the shape of a necklace. Its most popular park is Franklin Park which includes the Franklin Park Zoo and a golf course.

What have you learned about parks in Boston or parks in general?

K: Most parks are designed with details to benefit society. They often help improve the environment with water and air quality.

What have you learned about the environment, climate change and environmental justice issues?

K: I learned that water is a necessity in life that we cannot take for granted. Many places in other parts of the world run out of water and hit “Day Zero.” There’s only 1-3% of usable freshwater on Earth and that small percentage will become smaller if people are not aware. If we use water with conscience and advise others to do so, we can conserve enough water to prevent Boston from hitting our “Day Zero”.

How can parks help with these issues?

K: Parks aid with many issues because the natural scenery is beneficial to helping stop environmental worries. As parks have numerous trees and plants, they help lower the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere by taking in the carbon for photosynthesis. Reducing greenhouse gas levels is important because the higher they get, indicates that temperatures will increase, causing the melting of arctic ice caps and rising seawater levels.

What will you do with this knowledge in the future?  

K: With more knowledge about the environment and how it connects with our lives, I can advise others about small habits to change that are positive to our communities. For example, one change could be to recycle. By recycling, we are reusing materials and would not need factories that let out gases to keep producing more. Also, less waste would end up in landfills or our community spaces.

THEY BRING BOTH A COMMUNITY AND A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THE LAND

What would you like to see happen with the Olmsted Bicentennial planning?

It would be great to see how this movement becomes a national movement. Learning the history of and caring for the land holds value. Spreading more awareness on how essential natural lands are can lead the path to raise awareness for the issues surrounding them.

What would you like to see happen in the City of Boston and its parks? What are your ideas, dreams and thoughts for the future?

K: There should be more education in schools on healthy habits to protect the land. Schools have an influential role in the lives of the students they teach. It’s significant to start teaching students when they are young about ways to preserve the planet because it’s the place where they will live their lives and they need to take care of it to continue living on it.

For context, see Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of this series.

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Director of Education Kent Jackson and TerraCorps Service Member/Youth Education Coordinator Tess O’Day sought fresh insights from members of the Conservancy’s Youth Leadership Program (YLP), which, since 2009, has been offering nature connection, environmental education, career exploration and workforce development for Boston Public School high school students ages 15 to 18. Youth Leaders are paid for their program work, with sessions being held virtually during the pandemic. Each week, they participate in discussions about landscape architecture, environmental education, public parks and environmental justice, as well as develop leadership skills. They also enhance communication skills and deepen their life science and park maintenance knowledge.

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