Two Middlesex County schools have received part of 34 grants offered by the PSEG Foundation to support integrating sustainability concepts into student learning experiences.
Oak Tree School in Monroe received a $2,000 School Projects Grant for “Growing Up Green,” which will expand the school garden by purchasing a greenhouse that would promote yearlong use of the garden, specifically in the cold months.
Students will have access to the greenhouse, which will be on display in the school courtyard to promote observation and participation.
“On behalf of the Oak Tree Elementary School community, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to Sustainable Jersey for Schools and PSEG Foundation for the grant that will allow us to purchase a greenhouse,” said Oak Tree Principal Patricia J. Dinsmore.
“A welcome addition to our already established garden and Green Thumbs program, the greenhouse will allow our students to participate in the garden theme year round through interdisciplinary lessons and the care of a variety of plants. This will include the exploration of foods from other countries, which will enhance our cultural awareness endeavors. The greenhouse will also serve as a focal point for our annual Healthy Living Night, which continues to promote a greater sense of community for our students, families and volunteers,” she said.
In addition, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools in Piscataway received a $10,000 School Project Grant for “Farmstand,” a project that will collaborate with the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station to start a Youth Farmstand Project.
Through a four-week summer program based in the school garden, students will work with local community partners around Piscataway, experiencing the entrepreneurial and sustainable aspects of owning and running a business.
“Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS) at Piscataway is committed to building a sustainable school with the assistance of Sustainable Jersey for Schools. Our community partners of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Middlesex County EFNEP/SNAP-Ed will assist us in making our Farmstand Project a living laboratory in which students will see and experience firsthand what they are learning and in turn apply that knowledge to real-world situations,” said Tracey I. Maccia, director of Special Services for MCVTS.
The PSEG Foundation has contributed more than $1 million in funding to the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program.
“Our longstanding partnership with Sustainable Jersey has helped to empower schools to develop projects that provide students with the opportunity to learn more about sustainability, protecting the environment and STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] education,” said Ellen Lambert, president of the PSEG Foundation.
“The grants create an opportunity for teachers, administrators and their respective communities to shape the future of their students and schools for years to come,” said Donna Drewes, who co-directs Sustainable Jersey with Randall Solomon. “Grant funding will build capacity as schools embark on sustainability projects making today’s real winners the students.”