Lily Wright grew up in Woolwich, Maine and has always been passionate about the outdoors. When she was young, her parents would encourage her to go outside and play instead of being inside. She also remembers going on field trips to the beach, orchards, and recess outside. Lily wants to give back to this community of teachers, parents, and people who have made these adventures possible by creating a program of her own for kids to enjoy. She had the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors as a child and has that same wish for kids in elementary school now. To share her love for being outside, she created a program, Maine Discovery for Youth (MDY), that encourages elementary school students to join Lily and her team on hikes around Maine. After COVID-19, many young kids were stuck inside, spending much of their time on screens. This program was built for the kids of Lily’s community and to inspire kids through nature. A team of four high school students led three different day hikes, each lasting about two hours, teaching younger kids about Leave No Trace, plants and animals of Maine, and even a Labyrinth in the woods.
“I like to think that we are an outlet for the kids to talk to and meet new people from around the RSU1 district.” – Lily
Implementation of Project
Lily and her team have led trips to Thorne Head Preserve, Lilly Pond Trail Head, and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Trails with more to come, including an adventure exploring beekeeping. On each trip, students throughout the local school district joined us on walks through nature, learned about the great outdoors, and expressed themselves through journaling on the hikes, bringing out a creative energy. Lily and her team were really helpful in socializing with the participants about topics surrounding favorite subjects in school, favorite outdoor activities and adventures, and providing a listening ear to young students.
Four kids signed up for the first hike, a perfect starting number. After Lily had her first event at Thorne Head Preserve, she posted about it on social media, gaining followers on Facebook and Instagram to spread the word about MDY. The second hike at Lilly Pond didn’t attract as many participants as Lily had hoped, but both excursions had included completely different people. For the final event before her CLP was due, Lily got the word out early and to her delight, eight kids showed up, some were from previous hikes, others were brand new. Lily was overjoyed to have this perfect amount of participants and allow them to intermingle and meet kids from different schools. After finishing this outing, she felt as though she had succeeded in her task of bringing her community together to create an outlet for young kids and a connection to the outdoors.
“Sometimes, the best cure is fresh air and sunshine.” – Lily
Results of Project
Maine Discovery for Youth plans on continuing throughout the summer, establishing a deeper connection with the outdoors and the community. Lily and her team, Olive Beeton, Grace Tetreault, and Lillian Pomerleau, spent many hours devising plans about where to hike and what to bring for the kids. They also outlined a schedule for the hikes and included songs and trail games to keep the kids upbeat. Communicating with each other and school secretaries around the school district to share flyers and information was a learning curve for the group. Through this program, Lily used her leadership skills that she learned at Alzar and applied them to what it takes to organize, plan, and promote Maine Discovery for Youth in the community.
Lily also applied for the 826 Enrichment Fund to receive $250 to go towards Maine Discovery. She got the grant which helped with buying snacks, journals, and art supplies for creating a personal journal for the kids. She plans on signing up for more grants to keep the project running.
The hikes lasted about two hours each on three different weekends. Each hike was every other weekend and will stay that way for the time being. Coming up in June, we have a beekeeping expedition that will take place at Morse High School with the help of some beekeeping experts in the community.
“This was most definitely a success and I am thrilled to say that we will be continuing our adventures into the summer, learning more about the great outdoors.” – Lily
Lily and her team are graduating in 2024 and they plan to keep MDY adventures in place until then.. They hope to encourage and mentor underclassmen to take over when they leave and keep kids engaged in the outdoors. With her leadership skills, she plans on challenging herself by assessing her own leadership along with asking others for feedback about herself and her leadership. Lily is someone who is looking for change and wants to become a better person through learning from her mistakes. She believes in making a difference and giving back to her community.
“Giving back is the best gift for a community.” – Lily