Transforming Our Community
By Stephanie Posner
Clean Ocean Action was a grant recipient in 2019. Impact 100 helped to support the launch of the Student Environmental Advocates and Leaders (SEAL) program to develop a center of environmental stewardship for high school students in underserved communities.
The inaugural class was made up of 12 students from across Monmouth County. Taking on the motto of “go with the flow,” the team had to switch gears due to COVID and focused on a virtual program. The group met twice a month and was joined by various local leaders and elected officials to learn about how the local community is working to protect the environment. In January the students were asked to identify a global environmental problem which they wanted to help tackle. They were asked to think global but act local – considering something they can do locally which can have a positive impact on the broader global issue.
The students focused on issues including reducing single use plastics, beach litter, and hydroponics. They presented their projects during a webinar on May 13th. To learn more about the projects you can view the recording online.
Click on the links to hear local projects:
- Jackie Rogers, Little Silver – Plastic Pollution
- Thomas Baron, Middletown – Beach Litter
- Orlanna Nolan, Highlands – Litter Pollution
- Sarah Taylor, Ocean Township – Hydroponics Heals
- Maya Burns, Keyport – Storm Water Pollution
- Olivia Bonfort, Highlands – Rain Barrels
- Isabella Taborda, Eatontown – Education on recycling in elementary schools
- Olivia Fair, Highlands – Community Garden
- William Franznick, Middletown – Environmental Education Lesson Plans
- Chelsea Delalla, Ocean Township – Deforestation & Urbanization: Elementary School Education on the importance of planting trees
Clean Ocean Action is now recruiting eligible high school students to apply for the program for the upcoming academic year. Students from the following schools are eligible: Asbury Park, Henry Hudson, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Middletown North, Monmouth Regional, Neptune, Raritan, Red Bank Regional, and Ocean Township. Interested students can visit the “Education Programs” link at CleanOceanAction.org and complete the SEAL Student Interest Form.
The SEAL program, which was funded generously by Impact 100 Jersey Coast as their first environmental grant, offers eligible high school students a unique leadership learning experience focused on local environmental issues. SEAL students collaborate with peers across Monmouth County through bi-monthly virtual group training sessions to learn the basics of community grassroots activism and advocacy, and how it can be achieved in their own schools’ communities. Topics presented in the training sessions, featuring experts in that field, include, but are not limited to civics and the voting system, environmental justice, water quality, environmental careers, recycling crisis, and watershed mindfulness. Students make connections from the lessons to their local communities and learn to make real change through problem-based learning.
In addition, guest speakers, including elected officials, advocates, and activists will speak to the students to discuss successful strategies and campaigns to add real world context to the learning. To add a healthy bit of competition, Clean Ocean Action (COA) will use a point-based system to award students for their activities, leadership, collaboration, cohesiveness, stewardship and campaigns. Importantly, SEALs will help pass on their leadership and success to the community through presentations and engagement to middle schoolers and town councils. Interested high school students from eligible schools (listed earlier) should go to “Education Programs” at www.CleanOceanAction.org, contact Kristen Grazioso at 732-872-0111 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and complete the SEAL Student Interest Form.