On an unseasonably warm day in October, an alliance of partners with the support of local elected officials conveyed an important initiative to hundreds of Elizabeth, NJ school students. Let’s work together to take care of our environment.
The Estuary Day event took place near the Elizabeth River at the Peterstown Community Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, students arrived to partake in a day of educational workshops and interactive exhibits made by their peers from competing High Schools.
Future City Inc., organized the event, and representatives from over 20 organizations joined in the festivities. The program demonstrated the importance of education and community participation in preserving and appreciating the environment.
Partnering organizations included the Elizabeth River/Arthur Kill Watershed Association, City of Elizabeth mayor’s office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection, and a very special guest, The Mayor of Loulé Portugal, Vitor Aleixo.
In an interactive setting, participating agencies staffed table displays and served as instructors, discussing with students their respective organization’s mission as it relates to the port, harbor, estuary and about environmental stewardship.
Using a variety of visual aids, Lisa Barron, Project Manager, New York District, shared her expertise with students and afforded them an opportunity to better comprehend the history of the estuary and its environmental state. Lisa Baron also explained New York Districts’ role in the region and the many projects New York District oversees there.
"Who wants to be a biologist or a scientist?" Baron asked the class of 7th graders. Several hands went up, as she proceeded to describe what she does as a biologist at the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Baron explained her role in the USACE's restoration and navigation programs and how dredged material from the deepening of the harbor was beneficially used for wetland restoration, brownfields, fish reefs and flood risk management throughout the region. "One of the USACE's missions was to deepen the New York and New Jersey Harbor to 50 feet so that larger container ships could enter this port and deliver all of your stuff [iphones, x-boxes, clothes, cars...] in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way." Baron explained.
It was especially rewarding for the Corps and another opportunity to provide pupils with information about the Corps and its many environmental initiatives in the region. By sharing their knowledge, volunteers imparted how important the estuary is to the region and the nation and students were able to take with them their newfound knowledge to share with their friends and families on what they experienced and learned at Estuary Day.
Joe Seebode, Deputy District Engineer, New York District, addressed the crowd of about 300 dignitaries and students. “Today is a great day for the City of Elizabeth and for the Corps of Engineers,” Seebode began, “Each year we take a day to partner with Future City Inc. and Elizabeth school children to combine our committed efforts in keeping our environment clean.” Seebode then thanked all the groups, students, and dignitaries for their participation. Estuary day was once again a great success and it demonstrated New York District’s commitment to ensuring that our children are well equipped to handle the environmental challenges of the future.