Youth and the Environment

Real-World Experience in the Wastewater Field

Since 1990, the Youth and the Environment Program in Lowell, Massachusetts, has provided inner-city youths with experience in the wastewater field. The goal of the program is to introduce young adults to environmental career opportunities and to inspire them to engage with the environment.

The EPA produced this short video about the Youth and the Environment Program in 2016.

During the six-week summer program, five high-school students from Lowell work daily at the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility. There they receive a diverse, hands-on introduction to all facets of wastewater treatment, including process control, maintenance, and laboratory operations.

The daily routine also includes lessons on various environmental topics, such as wastewater, water quality, ecology, climate change,  resource management and conservation, and Lowell’s environmental history.

Weekly field trips that enrich their environmental education, such as visits to the New England Aquarium, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, and the Deer Island wastewater treatment plant are scheduled throughout the program.

In August the students receive their YEP certificates at a graduation ceremony at the Lowell facility.

The 2017 Youth and the Environment participants are seen here harvesting water chestnuts on the Charles River. This invasive species is detrimental to aquatic ecosystems and the YEP participants did their part to combat the issue. Pictured from left to right are Tyrese Ferreras, Jorgens Fortere, Luis Baez, and Van Soy.

NEIWPCC coordinates the Lowell program with help from the EPA, the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, the City of Lowell, and Career Center of Lowell.

A loss of funding led to a two-year hiatus in 2008 and 2009. The program has returned thanks to grants from the EPA to NEIWPCC to oversee the program.

For more information on the Youth and the Environment Program, contact NEIWPCC’s James Plummer at 978-349-2526 or