CLARK, NJ -  James Leitner founder of MissionCleanWater, an organization committed to providing clean drinking water and sanitation to under-served communities, visited with students in Suzanne Nagourney’s Environmental Science Class at Arthur L. Johnson High School prior to the end of the semester.

Leitner, a Scotch Plains resident, joined a Zoom session with the students. He shared his educational background and how he became interested in environmental science specifically on people’s accessibility to clean water. 

He discussed depletion with students as well as accessibility including how far people have to travel to obtain water.  He showed students water sources that some people rely on that differ greatly from the water students are accustomed to drinking.  

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Leitner shared that he began raising awareness about clean water by first committing to run a marathon a month for a full year carrying 45 pounds of water above his head.  He said this symbolized what people have to go through every day to access clean water in some areas of the world. 

He then shared pictures of his 3,250 mile journey from New Jersey to California where he walked carrying 10 gallons of water.  The 143-day journey was meant to show the distance people in Africa had to walk every year just to get water for themselves. 

Students had the opportunity to ask Leitner questions like what inspired him to begin his crusade for clean water. He explained it really began with trips to visit his family which sparked his interest in nature. He wound up switching career paths in college to follow his passion of helping others which eventually led to the creation of MissionCleanWater. 

“James is very passionate about the goal of MissionCleanWater to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to underserved communities. I thought that inviting James to share his inspiration and passion would be a good way to close our Water unit in my Environmental Science classes," said Nagourney. "Students were able to hear first-hand about his authentic experiences and motivation for transitioning his passion for environmental science into the development of a nonprofit organization that provides a service to others.”

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