Several local schools won grants to teach children about sustainability, to change habits in order to prevent natural resources from being depleted.
The New Jersey Education Association awarded 11 $10,000 grants and 36 $2,000 grants throughout the state.
“Our job as educators is to prepare the next generation with the skills, information, and resources to become engaged citizens and leaders in our efforts to save and protect our planet,” NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller said in a press release. “NJEA is honored to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey on this important program that directs resources into our schools.”
Locally, the winners were as follows:
Brick Township schools will use their $10,000 grant for the “Grow Brick Grow” program in elementary and middle schools.
“These funds allow our elementary and middle school students to engage in hydro- and aquaponic farming methods to develop an understanding of how productive it can be to grow and raise their own food supply. We look forward to promoting healthy and sustainable food choices as we cultivate our school gardens into positive community partnerships,” said Superintendent Gerard Dalton.
Lake Riviera Middle School in Brick will use a $2,000 grant for healthy and sustainable meals.
“This grant will provide our students with an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of sustainability in a living classroom through an aquaponic gardening system. This project-based experience will allow our students to explore the connections between chemistry and life science and use innovation to improve the planet,” said Principal Alyce Anderson.
Switlik Elementary School in Jackson won a $10,000 grant to install water bottle stations to decrease the number of plastic bottles used. Green team members will sell reusable water bottles, with the money going to a donation to the Jackson food pantry.
“Our Switlik Panthers will be enlightened to the importance of preventative recycling, through the installation of water bottle refilling stations, and the practice of restorative recycling through the use of re-purposing and reusing recyclable waste and materials to grow nutritional food. The Switlik School has great passion for educating ourselves and our community on sustainability efforts. We believe our sustainability efforts will have a lasting impact on our school and community that we are proud to call home,” said Principal Kathleen McKiernan.
An outdoor classroom will be constructed with a $10,000 grant at Toms River High School North.
According to a press release from the district, the outdoor classroom, dubbed Setting the Stage for Outdoor Learning (S.S.O.L.) will have several unique features. A student-built boardwalk will join the school to an enclosed courtyard. This will be made up of a concrete bottom, with weather-resistant benches and storage. Seats will face a stage near the theater department’s shed. The courtyard itself will be filled with native plant species, based on consulting work with partners like the Barnegat Bay Partnership and the Jane Goodall Institute.
Ramtown Elementary in Howell will use a $2,000 grant in a plastics reduction campaign.
“As an active participant in the Powersave program sponsored through New Jersey Natural Gas, our school is proud to have been selected a recipient of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant,” Principal Albert J. Bohrer said. “The money will be utilized to further advance our school’s efforts to promote sustainable and conscientious choices to benefit our environment.”
Island Heights Elementary School will use a $2,000 grant for a student wellness program.
“The Island Heights Grade School educational community is thrilled to accept the $2,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grant that will benefit our children’s health and wellness which is so important in their physical, social and emotional growth. We thank Sustainable Jersey for Schools for this opportunity to apply and compete for this chance to purchase health and fitness related supplies and equipment that will enhance our children’s wellness,” Superintendent Timothy Rehm said.
“Our state’s students and teachers continue to inspire me with their passion for sustainability and commitment to New Jersey’s future,” said Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon. “We are proud to support their efforts with grant money to help realize their vision.” Proposals were judged by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee. The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants are intended to help school districts and schools make progress toward a sustainable future in general, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.