Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) announced that the Ocean City School District has been awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant.
Eleven $10,000 grants and 36 $2,000 grants were distributed to fund a variety of projects, including OCSD’s proposed expansion of its classroom gardening program at the Ocean City Intermediate School (OCIS).
With the $10,000 grant, OCIS will now work to install two vertical greenhouses outdoors in the school courtyard, a classroom hydroponics system and a classroom aquaponics system.
The school already operates a courtyard garden with raised beds, which is largely used by the Food and Consumer Science class. All classes will have access to the new vertical greenhouses, while the seventh and eighth grades will primarily use the new indoor gardening systems.
As part of this project, OCIS also has plans to start an after-school Garden Club to allow all students to explore advanced topics in agriculture/horticulture.
Through the OCIS classroom gardening program, teachers incorporate more advanced STEM concepts into their lessons by focusing on various growing techniques.
The students benefit from hands-on learning that allows them to explore the subject of farming, and the science behind it, in-depth. They also reap health benefits by growing and supplying the school with healthy foods to serve in the cafeteria.
“We look forward to expanding the Intermediate School’s classroom gardening program, because it not only contributes to our STEM curriculum, but it also supports our mental health and wellness initiatives. It teaches our students about growing healthy foods and engages them in an inclusive activity that has proven calming effects and encourages them to work together – and celebrate together – as their plants grow and thrive,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor.
She continued, “Ocean City School District has made pursuing Sustainable Jersey certification a priority, because the certification program provides not only financial incentives, but tools and training to help us implement sustainability initiatives. These have community-wide impact and reflect Ocean City’s commitment to healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship.”
OCIS has a Bronze Level Sustainable Jersey certification, which the school has achieved with support from almost $60,000 in grants to support health and wellness, environmental, and safety initiatives to benefit students, staff and families.
With this most recent round of funding, NJEA has provided $1 million to support a sustainable future for children across the state through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program.
“Every day in the news, we hear more and more about the importance of recycling and creating eco-friendly products, as well as the value of using sustainable resources,” said NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller. “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 is honored to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey on this important program that directs resources into our schools.”
In addition to the grant funding, NJEA supports Sustainable Jersey for Schools as a program underwriter.
“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.
To learn more, visit www.SustainableJerseySchools.com