Youth and the Environment

For 26 years, the Youth and the Environment Program in Lowell, Massachusetts, has been providing inner-city youths with the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the wastewater field.

In 2016 EPA produced a short video highlighting the Youth and the Environment Program.  It is our hope that this video will help spark interests in the field and encourage young adults to pursue a career protecting the environment.

During the summer, students from Lowell worked daily at the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility. They received a diverse, hands-on education in all facets of a wastewater treatment plant, including pretreatment, process control, maintenance, laboratory operations, and landscaping.

The daily routine included lessons on wastewater treatment and other environmental topics, such as water quality, ecology, resource conservation, and aquatic life. Once a week during the six-week program the students went on educational field trips, visiting environmental destinations such as the New England Aquarium, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, and the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority’s Deer Island wastewater treatment plant.

In August the students received their YEP certificates during a graduation ceremony at the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility. On hand for the ceremony were Jackie LeClaire and Jay Pimpare, project officers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England branch (Region 1), and several NEIWPCC employees, including our YEP coordinator.

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 has coordinated the Lowell program, with help from partners including 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, but the program has continued thanks to grants from EPA to NEIWPCC to oversee the program.

For more information on the Youth and the Environment Program, contact NEIWPCC’s Ben Smith at 978-349-2524 or