Balancing the Port and the environment are components of a world class estuary – and on October 10, 2014 an alliance of partners with the support of elected officials conveyed this initiative to New Jersey school students during Estuary Day. Sponsored by Future City Inc., and the Elizabeth River/Arthur Kill Watershed Association, the success of the event was attributed to a steadfast partnership with strong local support.
The event demonstrated the importance of education and community participation in preserving the environment.
Over 200 area students experienced a series of environmental educational and citizen science workshops on the relationship of local and regional clean water/clean air issues at the event staff by the Army Corps and participating partner agencies.
In addition to the sponsor and Army Corps, the Estuary Day 2014 partners included the City of Elizabeth mayor’s office, U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Harbor Estuary Program, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection/UMDJ, Kean University, New York|New Jersey Baykeeper; Offices of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-13) and corporate partners from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection NJCWRP, Infineum, Phillips 66, and Dupont.
In a setting which was not a typical classroom, all participating agencies staffed tables with displays and exhibits, and interacted with students and discussed their respective mission as it relates to the port, harbor, and estuary.
Using visual aids, Lisa Baron, Project Manager and marine biologist with the Army Corps’ New York District spoke about the New York and New Jersey harbor estuary and the importance of ecosystem restoration and activities associated with restoration projects and studies.
"Future City Inc and the City of Elizabeth holds events like this to enable students to learn about the estuary and inspire them to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -- related careers," said Baron at the opening ceremony where she represented all agency partners.
"Estuary Day provides an opportunity for us to mentor them to show students how science, technology, biology, and engineering can be used in their future career. The Corps has been committed to enhancing STEM programs and participate in workshops to offer students an opportunity to show them how these areas of study can be applied to real-world problems and helping them better understand what scientists and engineers do."
The Hudson Raritan Estuary spans a 25-mile radius encircling the Statue of Liberty, and includes 1,000 miles of coastline, 1,600 miles of open water and 500+ species of birds and fish.
Baron spoke to students about the city of Elizabeth being situated within the Hudson Raritan Estuary, where fresh water from the Lower Passaic, Hackensack, Rahway, Raritan and Hudson Rivers meet salt water from the Atlantic Ocean, providing a rich environment for plant and animal life.