Building a bridge to discovery and wonder, connecting children with the natural world.

Nancy Lin is a 20-year resident of Winchester, and Winchester Trails Guide whose background is in environmental science. After college, she began as a naturalist instructor at High Rock Park Conservation Center, on Staten Island, NY, then became a New York City Park Ranger on Staten Island and, soon after, an Education Coordinator for all five boroughs of the Park Ranger program. This Ranger program was innovative in that it coupled stewardship with a major educational component. In about 1984, Nancy was part of a team of educators brought to Boston to introduce the Park Ranger concept to the Boston City Park system. Thereafter she worked as the first Director of the Cambridge Conservation Commission. As a result, she became very involved in many local environmental organizations. In 1988, Nancy became the Education Coordinator for the Wetlands and Waterways Program with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection of which she is now the Manager of Outreach and Education.  

Interview with Nancy Lin

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What called you to this volunteer work with Winchester Trails?

Shortly after moving to Winchester in 1997, and with my work already devoted to environmental science, I visited the Winchester Trails booth at Town Day, and found that Trails’ mission of bringing nature education to elementary school aged children fit precisely the way I wanted to become part of my new community.

I found in Winchester Trails a wonderful opportunity to bring all of my nature knowledge and experience to help children connect the concepts they are learning in school to the relevance of nature in their lives both now and in the future. While each Trails Guide comes from a diverse place in terms of experience, I found we all shared the common goal of inspiring children to appreciate nature, in its order and its complexity. From my earlier experiences as a Park Ranger, I knew that rather than “giving the fish” — the basic book learning — to the young students, teaching them “how to fish” — how to hone their skills of observation and to explore their curiosity in nature and in science — would give them tools for all their future learning. For some students, an in-classroom-only experience does not allow them to use all their abilities, and may not allow them to excel through the modalities they use best. Learning about nature in the field gives them an opportunity to “do,” to use all their senses, actively observe, and question. For me, “Each child has the potential to save the world!”

What did you observe as a need within our community that your interest in nature and the environment might begin to fill?
When one teaches, two learn is a known adage. What have been the highlights of your experience so far?
Since this is the month honoring women, who is a woman who has inspired you and why?
Any advice to share?