Merrimac fourth-graders are learning the importance of permanently preserving open space for their and future generations. Students at the Helen R. Donaghue School were invited by Greenbelt to help name its newest reservation on Battis Road, adjacent to the Merrimac Town Forest.
The property’s stunning beaver pond inspired the students’ suggestions and the final name: Beaver Pond Reservation. Cobbler’s Brook winds through these 23-acres that will provide access to a heron rookery, mature woodlands and abundant spring wildflowers.
Donaghue School’s fourth-grade classes, studying open space as part of their International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, took field trips to the Battis Road property and other open spaces in town. Impressed by them all, the students shared their observations in persuasive essays about the importance of protecting open space.
“I saw all the classes enjoying themselves instead of groaning and whining. I saw them happy,” noted a student about the field trips.
“You’re not getting mad at video games, you feel happy. Getting outdoors makes you feel one with the world and makes you more aware,” wrote another.
A classmate with a different perspective added, “Open spaces should be protected for animal habitats. If animals that live there die, it will wreck the food chain and other animals, even humans, will be affected.”
Last spring, Merrimac voters at Town Meeting unanimously approved $10,000 from their Open Space Fund toward Greenbelt’s purchase price of $150,000. Donations from residents and other individuals, and three grants – including the state’s Conservation Partnership Program - helped close the funding gap.
Donaghue School’s Library Media Specialist Dawn Ackerman, I.B. Coordinator Susan Simmons, and fourth grade teachers Janelle DeCamillis, Noelle Keach and Windy Pinto worked with the students on this project as part of their fall curriculum. And Greenbelt was delighted to have the Battis Road conservation project included in the unit.
When Greenbelt completes its trail work, new footpaths will lead visitors into Beaver Pond Reservation - visitors who may find the same motivation and inspiration as the students.
“Without open space lands we would not be able to walk the trails and enjoy the views,” one student observed. And another wrote, “You will be a hero to the animals!”
Greenbelt joins the Merrimac students in saying “[We] hope to see you at the Beaver Pond Reservation – making the town of Merrimac a better place!”
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.