ELIZABETH, NJ – Sophomore Angel Cardoza of Thomas A. Edison Academy kept busy at the 14th Annual Environmental Day explaining his work using a simulator for process engineering to 300 students who crowded into the Peterstown Community Center, April 29.

These and other presentations were part of Environmental Day where students learned from other students and attended workshops with the goal of becoming better stewards of the Earth and perhaps even pursuing a career in environmental science.

Environmental Day brought together students like Cardoza and others who seek to make a difference in the natural world. Organized by Future Cities Inc., the participating groups included the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, NY/NJ Harbor Estuary, The Historical Society of Elizabeth, GEO Health, and NY/NJ Baykeeper Fish Advisory. Scholastic programs such as pre-college programs like Nosotros, Environ Mentors, and NNJ SHPE also had a presence, along with science clubs from John E. Dwyer Technology Academy and Thomas A. Edison Career & Technological Academy.

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“It is important for us to be here because of the mission the Army Corps has undertaken,” said Joseph Seebode, deputy district engineer for programs and project management, who told of the importance of community involvement. “We hear a lot about recycling, littering, conserving water, and taking personal actions to provide good stewardship of the environment.”

Speaking of the students, Seebode continued, “We want to educate them on several things they can do to make a difference and to encourage them to take up environmental studies and the sciences and get into these career fields in the future.”

Cardoza, along with his fellow students Marvin Hernandez and Luis Navarro, have already started their careers by taking part in their school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program, learning about being a console operator. The position conducts daily operations such as using a heat exchanger, fixing a pump fixture, and using a distillation tower. It’s an old profession that had gone hi-tech and now needs highly qualified personnel. One wrong move can move can be disastrous, which is why “Process engineers make more than NASA engineers,” said Cardoza, who plans to attend Middlesex County College process technology program.

Next to Cardoza, fellow Edison student, senior Antoine Gbamou, along with Mario Carbajal, and Ivan Venegas, was explaining the importance of going green. “One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second, about 28 percent of the size of Manhattan or 20 football fields a minute,” he said. Half the world’s rainforests are gone, and it is predicted that in 100 years there will be no rainforests at all.”

The students from 13 Elizabeth schools also attended workshops presented by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Historical Society of Elizabeth, and U. S. Guard, among others. “I hope that they have an appreciation for what is going on in the harbor,” said Lisa Baron, an Army Corps project manager who spoke about the NY/NJ Harbor dredging project. “Hopefully, they will get excited about a career in these fields, so that when they are older, they can make a difference and continue to restore the environment.”