Sustainable Jersey for Schools announced the 47 New Jersey schools and school districts selected to receive Sustainable Jersey grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).
The Ocean City Intermediate School was one of 11 schools that received a $10,000 grant, according to a district press release.
The aim of the grant is to allow students to work together with teachers at the Intermediate School to launch an expanded classroom gardening program and club to support sustainability education and healthy eating habits.
The project will expand the growing techniques and increase the volume of produce generated by the students through the addition of a vertical greenhouse, classroom hydroponic systems, and classroom aquaponics systems.
This grant comes on the heels of the Intermediate School winning the first half of the Cape May County Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, sponsored by the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority.
“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 the planet. The NJEA is honored to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey on this important program that directs resources into our schools.”
The NJEA has now provided $1 million to support a sustainable future for schoolchildren across the state through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor said of OCIS, “The Ocean City Intermediate School proudly boasts a bronze-level Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification, which we have achieved with support from almost $60,000 in grants to support health and wellness, environmental and safety initiatives to benefit our students, staff, and families.”
She continued, “This particular grant supports the expansion of our classroom gardening program, which teaches our students about growing healthy foods, 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.”
The hydro/aquaponics systems will allow the Intermediate School to grow plants indoors, without the use of soil. The idea for this in the Intermediate School’s science classrooms came from a former student.
Principal Geoff Haines expressed excitement over launching another program at the Intermediate School that promotes healthy lifestyles for the students, staff, and families.
“Students will learn to maintain the systems. It will be a great hands-on educational process from installation to cultivation, while using sustainable practices,” Haines said. “The plants will range from those that will add to our healthy choices in the cafeteria, to student produced meals in our Family & Consumer Sciences classes, to sharing of flowers with local seniors. “
Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon added, “We are proud to support their efforts with grant money to help realize their vision.”
All grant proposals were judged by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee. The Sustainable for Jersey 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.
Next up for the Intermediate School is their application for Silver Certification.
Dr. Taylor summarized the efforts of the district to achieve sustainability.
“The Intermediate School continues their efforts to ensure that we have a model school for a healthy and sustainable school community and the community at large,” Taylor said. “The Intermediate School has been so focused on this endeavor that they are consistently being recognized, honored with awards, and significant grants. The OCIS is quickly becoming a New Jersey role model of how to ensure that students and staff are leaders in advocating for healthy lifestyles, healthy school, and healthy community.”