Inspiring environmental stewardship opportunities

Adella Daigle, co-President of the Newburyport High School Environmental Club, shares her feelings on the Environmental Stewardship Open House. 

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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship with an appreciation for our surroundings and the well-being of future generations. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Last Thursday, I experienced something I had never seen at Newburyport High School — it was one of those moments where I walked into an event slightly unsure and left feeling euphorically inspired. When our principal, Mr. Wulf, said we had over a 100 kids sign up for this event, I was pleasantly surprised. That is inspiring in itself, that 1 in every 8 students at Newburyport High care enough about the environment to participate during their last free study block before February break. On Thursday, Feb. 17, NHS hosted an Environmental Stewardship Open House developed by leaders of ACES and NHS.

This “environmental symposium” allowed students to voluntarily sign up to participate in this event where leaders in our town, including Mayor Sean Reardon and Superintendent Sean Gallagher, shared inspiring insights on the importance of environmental awareness and action. Students then got a chance to speak to representatives of nearly 20 different groups who were offering internships as well as project-based learning opportunities. The Environmental Club had a table as well. There were some students who came up to us saying they did not even know we had an environmental club and quickly became eager to ask what we do and how they can join. One conversation I had included a peer saying to me that we are used to a lot of false promises; this is the sad reality, but today was different. There they were, anyone you could possibly want to contact or reach out to, all standing in the same room. Offering opportunities for anything ranging from planting pollinator gardens to working on sustainable fashion in Newburyport, it was all there in one place. Students have a wide variety of interests so this aligned perfectly with the fact that we are fortunate enough to be living in a city where there are many people involved in eco-friendly efforts.

Such a collaborative approach helps to turn these so-called false promises about climate action into tangible change. There is really something for anyone who wants to be involved, and with the wide variety of initiatives and projects as seen on Thursday, it is possible to connect with opportunities that represent any passion. Not only this, but students now know that if they feel strongly about something and want to see it improved, there are other students who will support them as well as people outside of the school and in our community who will help amplify their voice. Talking with some of my peers who are also passionate about protecting our community from the inevitable effects of climate change and environmental degradation was really empowering. These conversations would not have happened if this Open House had not occurred.

Hearing key facts and figures about the effects of climate change can get really overwhelming, as Newburyport School Committee Vice-chairperson, Sarah Hall, pointed out. Students of Newburyport especially feel this pressure because we are a coastal town that is going to see the effects of sea level rise in upcoming years. Thursday’s symposium may have even eased some of this climate anxiety that many face. As a result, I believe the whole student body feels like our role in the community is valued and the stake we hold in our future is greater than ever before.

This column was coordinated by ACES Youth Corps member Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, send an email to To learn more about ACES, visit

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Adella Daigle

A junior at Newburyport high school, Adella is co-president of the Environmental Club. She has contributed to a variety of projects across the city during the past couple years. One of them was an initiative to protect the Merrimac River from contaminated storm drain runoff. In leading the Environmental Club, she has been introduced to ACES and was involved in the organization of the Environmental Stewardship Open House symposium that took place at NHS to educate students on how they can play an active role in local sustainable efforts.

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