Friday, December 12, 2014

Blue Star Program Goes To D.C.

As a result of collaboration between Restore America’s Estuaries and the Coastal Society, Clean Ocean Action’s Cassandra Ornell, Staff Scientist, and Catie Tobin, Marine Science Education Coordinator, attended their National Summit in early November at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in Maryland. Inspiring Action, Creating Resilience  
In early November, Clean Ocean Action’s Cassandra Ornell, Staff Scientist, and Catie Tobin, Marine Science Education Coordinator, attended the National Summit hosted by Restore America’s Estuaries and the Coastal Society.The overarching Summit theme of Inspiring Action, Creating Resilience was explored throughout the conference and integrated into keynote speakers as well as panels. The conference brought together the restoration and coastal management communities from across the nation for an integrated discussion to explore issues, solutions and lessons learned.   The Summit promoted conversation between scientists, advocates, and politicians about the ways in which restoration and management can help shape communities.

In addition to attending various workshops, Cassandra and Catie presented The Municipal Blue Star Program: Inspiring Resiliency in New Jersey Municipalities through Sustainable Actions during the conference poster session. The poster and presentation touched upon the success of the program and the ways in which COA implemented The Blue Star Program into New Jersey municipalities. Tying it into the greater issue of resiliency, Cassandra and Catie discussed ways in which the program can continue to grow with the help of great partners such as Sustainable Jersey and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Virtual Teach-In for Climate Change

A New Wave for Education

October marked the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and the second anniversary for Clean Ocean Action’s Virtual Teach-In, which was created in response to Superstorm Sandy to educate coastal communities about the science behind extreme weather.

Teachers, Girl Scout leaders, environmental educators, and librarians joined the tide of educators throughout the tri-state area  through participating in the Virtual Teach-in during the week of October 27th. The students ranged from Kindergarten to 12th grade and were able to take something away from the lesson.
Resources and lesson plans were provided to the educators and were complete with videos, activities, and instructional aids. The topics included: Climate Change, Global Warming, Sea Level Rise, Your Carbon Footprint, Greenhouse Gasses, and the Science Behind Hurricanes and Superstorm Sandy.

This year, over 15 educators, ranging from 12 schools, 3 groups, and 1 Girl Scout Troop were able to virtually bring Clean Ocean Action resources into their classrooms to learn more about the science behind Superstorm Sandy, climate change, and sea level rise. COA hopes to expand its reach and materials in the upcoming years to educate as many students about this pressing issue as possible.  

“The Virtual Teach-In is an opportunity to emphasize the importance of education about extreme weather events,” said Catie Tobin, Marine Science Education Coordinator. “With resources ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, educators can reach a larger group of students and integrate lessons at any education level.”

The Virtual Teach-In emphasizes the need for continued outreach to educators in the wake of natural disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy. Science is ever-evolving and we encourage the topics taught in the classroom to reflect that.  This program provided fresh and innovative ways to reach students and teach them about pressing issues that most experience first hand.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thousands Clean Up NJ Beaches

Waves of thanks to the 3,000 volunteers that hit the beaches to participate in Clean Ocean Action's 29th Annual Fall Beach Sweeps this past Saturday, October 25th. Volunteers at 72 locations from Essex County to Cape May County removed and cataloged each piece of debris, helping to document ongoing pollution issues.
The data recorded from the clean-up will be combined with data collected from the spring at the April 26th Beach Sweeps, then analyzed and presented in an annual report produced by Clean Ocean Action. The Beach Sweeps annual report identifies pollution problems and educates citizens on the quantities and types of marine debris. It is amazing what is found washed up or left on the beaches!

On Sandy Hook alone, Beach Sweep volunteers picked up: 268 plastic forks, spoons and knives; 2651 plastic caps and lids; 760 cigarette filters; 4137 plastic pieces; 277 plastic shopping bags; 52 pens; 2099 plastic straws; 27 syringes; and 304 tampon applicators. The rainstorm in the days prior to the clean-up helped to create large amounts of debris.

In addition to logging standard debris counts for various plastics, glass and lumber items, Sweeps volunteers also recorded the strange objects that make their way to the beach from various nonpoint sources. Some of the ridiculous items cataloged included: fireworks; a piece of car door; an 8' by 4' piece of fiberglass from a boat; a rusty anchor; a trunk of metal tiles; a bike handle; a bag of mice; chicken bones; a Lego castle; men's underwear; a bikini; and pom-poms.
The Beach Sweeps help to remind all beach goers and volunteers the importance of disposing of trash properly and runoff as almost all waterways, including rivers and streams, lead to the bay and ocean. Therefore, it is important to stop the pollution at the source and reduce the amount of debris that is picked up at the Beach Sweeps.

We look forward to next year at the 30th Annual Beach Sweeps! Stay tuned for more exciting events, official dates, and clean-up opportunities for the 30th Anniversary of the cleanup.

With gratitude, Clean Ocean Action thanks Aveda, Bank of America, ShopRite and Kohl’s for their 2014 Beach Sweeps Statewide Sponsorship. The Fall Beach Sweeps are made possible by support from many generous sponsors.

Friday, October 24, 2014

ANJEC Conference

Environmental Commissioners Meet, Greet, and Learn at Annual Congress

On Friday, October 24th, Jennifer Coffey the new Executive Director of the Association of Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) welcomed a room full of volunteer commissions, and environmental groups to the 41st Environmental Congress.   For 45 years the non-profit, ANJEC, has been dedicated to promoting and protecting New Jersey’s environmental resources by supporting the local commissions. These municipally appointed volunteers help their towns protect local natural resources, educate the public, and promote sustainability.

Most appropriately, former Governor Tom Kean presented the key note address, after he drafted and signed the law establishing ANJEC.  He focused on the Keep it Green NJ campaign, aimed at dedicating funds to open space preservation in New Jersey.  Governor Kean thanked the commissioners said they were following in a proud tradition of people who have made their communities better every day.

Judith Enck, USEPA Regional Administrator of Region 2, spoke about the federal plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  She said, "Every level of government needs to work on climate change. Climate change is not coming, it’s here.  The time to act was yesterday. "

During the conference, several workshops were available for the Environmental Commission members, including water supply, resilience, climate change, and open space preservation. In addition, hands-on skill workshops in technologies such as Google Earth and advancing social media techniques were also provided.  Clean Ocean Action, provided materials especially on the Blue Star program.

Do you know if your town has an Environmental Commission? Do they know about COA’s Blue Star program?  Check ANJEC’s website to find out, and see how you can get more involved: