AP NEWS

Brunswick conservationists raise $8K for Audubon Greenwich

May 5, 2019

GREENWICH — Brunswick School junior Peter Lehrman readily admits how hard it is to drown out the siren song of a blue screen or a video game — even he is not immune to spending hours on his phone.

But he also believes that people can draw on nature to resist the temptations of gadgets. “Technology is taking over our lives, but nature has more to offer us than technology does,” Lehrman said.

This year, he started the Brunswick Conservation Corps to encourage kids to profit from the outdoors while improving their surroundings, by connecting them with volunteer opportunities, such as maintaining trails or cleaning up shorelines, through local environmental groups.

One of the corps’ most recent events will provide internships to a handful of Brunswick students this summer at Audubon Greenwich. Members designed T-shirts and sold them to Brunswick and Greenwich Academy students, raising more than $8,000 in one school day. The fundraising idea came from fellow student William Gregory and his mother, Kim Gregory, who is member of Greenwich Grown, a consortium of garden clubs and conservation groups.

This is the first time a club and a local organization teamed up to help Audubon Greenwich, said Audubon Center Director Eli Schaffer. The organization will use the money to pay a few Brunswick students to maintain its trails over the summer.

“We are absolutely thrilled about this internship donation,” Schaffer said. “To see them roll up their sleeves and make it happen so that we could afford to get this work done is encouraging.”

Some years, Audubon Greenwich has five college interns, and other seasons, it does not have any. The fundraiser demonstrated to Schaffer that Audubon is “absolutely doing the right thing.”

“To see a group of young people band together and spread the word and create this broad engagement for improving the habitat is so rewarding,” he said. “These guys are going to grow up to be the conservation leaders of tomorrow.”

Lehrman, an avid fly fisher, mountain biker and hiker, said he is happy to help provide students with jobs that will take them outdoors and give them “real work” to do, making improvements in their hometown.

Club members also worked with their hands during the recent service day for the upper school, building wooden bridges and clearing brush for trails that will allow Brunswick lower-school students to explore the wilderness through an outdoor class started and run by teacher Dana Montanez.

Over the year, 25 boys joined the club, Lehrman said, and more have shown their support by sporting the club’s newly launched merchandise, including hats that say “Stay Wild,” at school.

When Lehrman returns from summer break, when he will volunteer at Mianus River Park and tutor underprivileged students through Reach Prep, he plans to expand the reach of the Conservation Corps. He wants to increase the number of weekend service days, organize another fundraiser and partner with the Housatonic Audubon group.

“Nature allows for reflection and soothes the mind,” Lehrman said. “ A lot of people do not realize how fun it can be. We can counteract technology in our lives.”

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact.com