Newman School’s Billy Brogan Leads Outward Bound Green Ambassador Program Invasive Species Initiative

Billy Brogan, a student at the Newman School in Boston’s Back Bay who is involved with Thompson Island Outward Bound’s Green Ambassador program, welcomed city education officials and volunteers to Thompson Island to participate in their invasive vegetation removal initiative and joined other Green Ambassadors to present their work on potential solutions to climate change. The event was part of the After School Alliance’s ‘Lights on After School’ campaign which highlights the opportunities afforded by out-of-school learning.

Located in the Boston Harbor, Thompson Island Outward Bound partners with Boston Public Schools to provide programming for middle and high school students that combines academic learning with Outward Bound style challenges. With a focus on building confidence, leadership skills, and social and emotional development, these programs come at no cost to schools or families and have proven invaluable as students return to in-person learning.

The Green Ambassadors program offers Boston students paid summer employment in the green job sector throughout their high school careers. Participants learn personal and professional skills that include environmental stewardship, climate change responsiveness, natural resource and facilities management, as well as technical outdoor skills such as climbing, camping, and kayaking.

“Our programs give students an opportunity to get out of the classroom and learn through creative and engaging activities that are both fun and educational,” said Arthur Pearson, President and CEO of Thompson Island Outward Bound and Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance.  “Thousands of Boston’s young people come to our shores every year where they immerse themselves in nature, engage in hands on science activities, and discover new skills and confidence. As we battle the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, it is more important than ever that we keep the lights on after school for our children and our communities.”

The Green Ambassadors led volunteers from Thompson Island Outward Bound’s ISLE Society of young professionals and other stakeholders to reach their goal of removing 1500 cubic feet of invasive vegetation this year, qualifying them to receive $75,000 of funding from the National Park Service. As invasive species do not have any natural predators, they grow quickly and strangle the island’s native species such as flowers and fruits, affecting the whole ecosystem and negatively impacting the environment.

Following the invasive species initiative, the students delivered a presentation about various projects they are working on that could help the environment. This included an aquaponics system they have set up on the island and the work they are doing on clam seeding, both of which are promising prospects in the fight against climate change.

“The work of the Green Ambassadors is vital to the health of the island ecosystem,” said Pearson. “These students have bright futures ahead of them and we are proud to be a part of their journey.”

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