2010 Greenovate Award winner Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center is creating the next generation of environmental stewards one mile from downtown Boston.

The Greenovate community is a vast network of Boston leaders making a difference in climate action. Read below for our conversation with a winner of the Greenovate Awards in our series Where Are They Now?

The Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center is an independent non-profit corporation and 2010 Greenovate Award winner for Green Business. You can nominate an individual, business, or any kind of group or organization to be considered for the Mayor’s Greenovate Awards.

Jacyln Parks

Jaclyn Parks, Marketing and Communications Director

Tell us about your work and how it impacts Boston.

Through our partnership with Boston’s public schools, each year thousands of students board the Thompson Island Outward Bound ferry to discover who they are and all they can become, on an island classroom that spans 204 acres of salt marshes, woods, campsites, labs, dormitories, and dozens of challenge structures.

In order to reduce the achievement and opportunity gaps facing Boston middle schoolers, our research-based curriculum features hands-on field science infused with Outward Bound’s unique approach to character development.

Our education programs are provided at no cost to schools or students, funded by a combination of philanthropy and the island’s events business.

A local and national treasure, Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center is located in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, just one mile from downtown Boston.

What did winning the Mayor’s Greenovate award mean to you?

This award showed how important it is that Thompson Island Outward Bound continue to create the next generation of environmental stewards through the delivery of our educational programs.

What leaders or organizations have influenced you the most? Why?

We work with many great partners, including Boston Public Schools (BPS), Boston After School and Beyond (BASB), and the National Park Service (NPS). Our partnership with BPS enables us to work closely with teachers, creating curriculum for the island and that they can utilize back in their classrooms. Our partnership with BASB allows us to reach more students through collaborative city-wide initiatives including Summer Learning Programs. NPS manages the research on Thompson Island and is our partner in engaging young people in scientific learning expeditions.

Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center is an independent non-profit corporation and a chartered member of the Outward Bound USA network.

Students surveying shoreline

What do you believe is the most pressing environmental issue of our time?

Boston Harbor sea levels have risen about a foot in the last century, mostly due to climate change. As one of the islands closest to the city, Thompson Island is an ideal place to monitor climate change’s local effects and educate people about them.

What actions do you suggest people take today to get involved to act on climate?

At Thompson Island Outward Bound we believe it is important to teach students to think like scientists. Our lessons are designed to engage students in creative and fun ways, helping them practice scientific thinking and bring these tools back to their classrooms. Change can only happen once people learn how to observe environmental issues and understand the cause and effect of our actions.

As tide lines climb, storms and boat wakes cause more onshore damage, as shown by the erosion on Thompson Island’s north bluff. During geology lessons, students use the skills of observation, journaling, and contour mapping to explore geological sites and collect evidence of erosion. Important lessons on “leave no trace” and beach clean-up efforts help students understand when they litter in their neighborhoods it doesn’t simply disappear. They see firsthand that this litter ends up on the beautiful beaches of places like Thompson Island.

Did this award reignite your motivation to continue your work?

This award reinforced the importance of the work we do with Boston Public Schools and their students. We are motivated to continue to incorporate environmental issues into our hands-on field science lessons. The local erosion Thompson Island has seen serves to make science and climate change real for the rising generation.

Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center won the Mayor's Greenovate Award in 2010 for Green Business. If you would like to learn about our most recent cohort of 2017 Mayor’s Greenovate Award winners, you can read more here.


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