WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

SOUTHWICK — It’s not often a 17-year-old has a sense of the past, present and future, and how actions taken today can have consequences years from now.

But then again, Lucas Caron is not your typical teenager.

“My generation should get involved so we can make dramatic changes in the environment,” said Caron, a senior at Southwick Regional School, while sitting in the Conservation Commission office in Southwick Town Hall.

For the next several months, he will be interning at the commission with the help of Conservation Coordinator Sabrina Pooler, who is Caron’s distant cousin.

With a shock of red hair, and playful hazel eyes, at first glance he gives off a vibe that’s a little bit goofy (in that best way), playful, whip smart and most importantly, committed to leaving behind a better world.

“It’s people like me who will make a change for the better,” he said in a way that didn’t come off as cocky, but confident.

And he backs it up with action.

He and Maria Michael served as student members of the Master Plan Advisory Committee, which published its final report in December. Caron and Michael were active participants, giving a presentation to the group.

“We presented about the community we want to live in,” Caron said.

The idea of interning with the commission started with the school district’s career facilitator, Maryanne Margiotta.

Former commission Chair David MacWilliams agreed that “it seemed like an excellent opportunity for all the parties,” Caron said.

This month, Caron attended his first commission meeting and came away with a better understanding of how the commission works.

He found the guiding policies of the commission very interesting, but also a bit overwhelming. But he clearly understands the needs for regulations when it comes to protecting the environment.

“We have to know about that so we can make the changes we need to make,” he said.

With Pooler’s help, Caron has already decided what he like to accomplish during his internship: Providing a forest bathing experience for area residents.

Folks shouldn’t take the “bathing” as literal, he added, laughing.

“It’s like being surrounded by nature in the woods using your sense like hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling,” he said, adding that it’s great for relaxation.

Pooler said the experience, called ecotherapy, is like meditation, but better when drinking in the sensation of nature. Caron said forest bathing began in Japan, where it is called shinrin-yoku.

Over the next two and half months, Pooler and Caron will be scouting areas where they will map out the best place for those wanting the experience. They are considering the North Pond Conservation Area, the Sofinowski Preserve, and Granville Gorge, all owned by the town’s taxpayers.

Caron explained that, like storywalks on the grounds of libraries, there will small signs posted along the chosen trail pointing out the notable features, like certain trees or signs of wildlife, that will connect visitors to the natural world.

Caron is more than a burgeoning conservationist. He is also involved in the theater department at SRS. He is now in rehearsals for the school’s spring production, which will be “Fiddler on the Roof.” He’s playing the lead character, Tevye.

As for his plans after he graduates in the spring, Caron already has an academic scholarship offer from Western New England University, but it still considering his options. He plans on majoring in English and environmental science.

English might seem a bit unusual for a young man so committed to the environment, but he is a published writer, penning several pieces for Southwoods magazine, the publication his grandparents own.

Pooler had nothing but high praise for Caron.

“I really lucked out with Lucas. Last year, when I was told that he was interested in an internship, I honestly didn’t even need an interview. I knew of his previous work with the Master Plan Committee and his involvement with theater at the high school.

“I look forward to the next few months with Lucas and I hope he gets something out of this opportunity, and it helps shape his bright future,” she said.

cclark@thereminder.com | + posts