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Newton Cemetery and Arboretum

Drew Humberstone of Needham and Sam Cerqueira of Watertown, both Horticulture majors, worked at the Newton Cemetery and Arboretum through the Co-Op program during the 2020-21 school year. Drew and Sam are in the Class of 2021


Well known for its pristine landscape, wildlife, and preservation of nature, the Newton Cemetery and Arboretum has a rich history of providing tours for nature enthusiasts and an immaculate final resting place.

Students in Minuteman’s Horticulture and Plant Science career major can work at Newton Cemetery and Arboretum for course credit through the school’s Cooperative Education program, also known as “co-op.” Seniors Drew Humberstone, of Needham, and Sam Cerqueira, of Watertown, are working there during the 2020-21 school year.

“I like being outside and using machinery. I like being around plants,” Cerqueira said. “My mom had a garden, my grandfather was a farmer. My first job was at a garden center.”

“I love and really enjoy working outdoors,” Humberstone said. “It’s kind of a natural bond between human and nature.”

Cerqueira and Humberstone do a variety of work, including pruning of trees, brushes, and plants; chipping away brush; felling and planting trees; and general maintenance, including brush and storm clean-up.

“It’s definitely given me a break from sitting in front of a computer all day,” said Cerqueira, while reflecting on remote and hybrid learning of the past year.

The Newton Cemetery and Arboretum is one of the few accredited arboretums in Massachusetts. It was created during the garden cemetery movement of the 1800s, which strove to create park-like cemeteries using a natural landscape. With 100 acres of open space, Newton Cemetery and Arboretum serves as an oasis to a diverse ecosystem in an urban area – with hundreds of trees and a natural pond system, along with species of turtles, frogs, chipmunks, various types of birds, and deer.

Sam Cerqueira, of the Class of 2021, working at the Newton Cemetery and Arboretum.

“We are thankful for the work of the Minuteman students and to support the growth of arboriculture and horticulture professionals,” said Nate Burke, Lead Arborist for Newton Cemetery and Arboretum. “Minuteman students bring passion to this work through their prior hands-on experience, which benefits the cemetery and arboretum greatly.”

Both Cerqueira and Humberstone are members of the Minuteman chapter of the Future Farmers of America.

“The co-op has definitely given me great hands-on experience,” Cerqueira said. “Learning how to fix something when it breaks, giving me an incentive to keep my grades up, balancing my schedule – all of that was because of co-op.”

Cerqueira is attending Plymouth State University in New Hampshire this fall to study environmental science and to play football. He was accepted to four other colleges. Cerqueira was a football and lacrosse player at Minuteman; he also launched a weight-lifting club.

Humberstone was accepted to Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Agriculture; he is still deciding where to attend. Humberstone was the president of the Ski Club at Minuteman.