New Jersey Students Seek To Solve Environmental Problems

ASBURY PARK– Hundreds of young environmentalists from six New Jersey counties will come together to clean up Asbury Park’s beaches and examine the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, as part of the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) Environmental Student Exchange on March 21-22.

The exchange is designed to provide opportunities for middle and high school students to visit regions of the state in which they do not reside or attend school for the purposes of participating in environmental projects and discussing mutual concerns about litter, solid waste, and clean water.

“Our goal is to get young people thinking in real terms about the environment and what they can do to help,” said Sandy Huber, executive director of NJCCC. “These students are the future leaders, the ones who will be able to make a real difference perpetuating a clean and sustainable environment for generations to come. We want them to come away with practical solutions, such as volunteer cleanups, that they can implement in their own communities.”

The 2013 participants include students from Old Bridge (Middlesex County), Monroe Township (Gloucester County), East Orange (Essex County), Newark (Essex County), Bayonne (Hudson County), Hackensack (Bergen County), and Passaic (Passaic County).

Beach Cleanup and Litter Analysis
At 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, the students will gather at an Asbury Park beach for an official welcome. They then will be transported to different areas of the Asbury Park shoreline, including Berkeley and Carteret beaches, where with cleanup materials supplied by NJCCC, they will collect cans, plastic bottles, cups, wrappers and other debris that has washed ashore. They also will tour the area of Asbury Park’s beach that was most hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

The beach cleanup effort is part of Adopt A Beach, a comprehensive, statewide volunteer program developed by the NJCCC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to clean and maintain beaches, bays, rivers and all waterways through network of municipalities, counties, community organizations, businesses and individuals.

Students will reunite for lunch at the Berkeley Oceanside Hotel in Asbury Park, where they will discuss what they found on the shorelines and receive awards for the most interesting pieces of litter collected. After lunch, the students will see water-related environmental exhibits and demonstrations.

Overnight Student Exchange of Ideas on Sustainable Energy and the Environment
A select group of students from school districts ? including East Orange, Monroe Township and Old Bridge ? will remain at the Berkeley Oceanside Hotel to participate in a more in-depth overnight exchange of ideas on sustainable energy and water health problems. The session goal is to provide these students with a more holistic view of environmental issues in New Jersey as well as the tools to return to their towns ready to help solve environmental problems. They will contrast and compare environmental issues in other parts of the state; create new and more innovative solutions to environmental problems; and examine New Jersey’s natural and historical resources.

United Nation’s World Water Day
NJCCC’s 5th Annual Clean Communities Environmental Student Exchange will coincide with the United Nation’s World Water Day, held annually to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Though not associated with NJCCC, the corresponding event helps highlight the importance of clean water and the value of participating in an Adopt A Beach volunteer program.

“Most Americans don’t realize that there is a worldwide crisis around access to clean water,” explained Huber. “This is often a wake-up call to our students, who will help to spread the message.”

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