Nature lover and ecologist elected new head of Westborough Land Trust
By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Westborough – An ecologist by trade, a nature lover by choice, Scott Shumway’s transition into his newly elected position as president of the Westborough Community Land Trust was a natural one. Though the task of preserving land in a rapidly growing community might seem formidable to some, Shumway welcomed the opportunity to protect the things that he has always held close to his heart.
“I can’t recall any time in my life when I didn’t have an interest in nature,” Shumway said. “My grandmother taught me to identify a handful of birds and plants. The result was a lifelong obsession to know the names of all the birds and plants that I encounter and to see more of them.”
As the years passed, his interests in nature and ecology grew and expanded. He regularly bird watched, gardened, and hiked. His intrigue led him to study the unique rain forests in Costa Rica, the beaches off Cape Cod, and, locally, Westborough’s complex ecosystems. His findings inspired him to author “The Naturalist’s Guide to the Atlantic Seashore,” published in 2008.
His passion became a career when coastal plant
communities, vernal pool amphibians and invertebrates, coral reef communities, and conservation biology became his ecological hubs of knowledge.
“I love learning about how different species interact with one another, either as competitors, predator and prey, or as partners,” he said, adding that the Massachusetts Audubon’s Laughing Brook Sanctuary and the Springfield Public School System ECOS (Environmental Center for Our Schools) program helped to fuel his passion.
Shumway was hired as a professor at Wheaton College, teaching plant biology, freshwater and marine botany, marine biology, vernal pool conservation biology, tropical field biology, and environmental science.
His desire to preserve the ecology outside the classroom brought about many positives for Westborough. First, he founded the Wheaton College Vernal Pool Research team, supervising students’ research projects on local conservation lands. This led to the certification of over 40 vernal pools, qualifying the pools for protection under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act.
Shumway has been involved with the Land Trust as director since 2007 and has been very active in public programs and trail stewardship. Now he aims to protect the nature he loves in his new role as resident.
“As president of Westborough Community Land Trust, I plan to increase membership, encourage more active engagement, and protect additional open space for public enjoyment,” Shumway said. “I love to be outdoors, to constantly learn more about the natural world and then share my passion for nature with other people.”
Shumway is a former member of the Town of Westborough Open Space Preservation Committee and Conservation Commission. He lives in Westborough with his wife, Lisa, both of whom are active in the Westborough Unitarian Universalist Church and Boy Scout Troop 100. His son, Cooper, is his favorite hiking companion.
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