WEST WINDSOR, NJ - At its 45th Environmental Congress held on October 12, 2018 at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) presented Val’s Valiants of Berkeley Heights with its prestigious 2018 Environmental Achievement Award in recognition of the group’s accomplishment in local environmental protection through its litter clean-up projects.
The award, which ANJEC has been presenting since the mid-1970's, recognizes exceptional projects state-wide that protect natural resources, health and open spaces in their towns. An awards committee consisting of ANJEC Trustees and staff members determined the award winners based on project impact, originality, educational value, innovation, and response to a need. Awards are presented in two categories – one for Individual Community Volunteers and the other for Environmental Commissions.
The Val’s Valiants litter clean-up effort, led by Governor Livingston High School (GLHS) junior Valerie Diamond, was one of only 17 projects throughout New Jersey to receive this award, one of just five of these projects to be selected for an Individual Community Volunteer Award, and the only non-adult to receive such individual recognition.
The awards were presented during a slideshow of pictures featuring the winning projects, before a sold-out crowd of hundreds of environmentalists from across the state. Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman was one of the distinguished attendees and was the keynote speaker at this annual event.
During the awards presentation, Diamond was recognized for forming Val’s Valiants in Spring 2017, initially to clean up an area near the intersection of Horseshoe Road and Watchung Way, by the Green Brook stream and Runnells Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. At the initial clean up covering an approximately quarter-mile stretch, the group gathered over 75 pounds of trash in under two hours. In 2018, Diamond expanded her campaign by reaching out to the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission for support. Through this partnership, the group conducted eight clean ups during March and April 2018 in Berkeley Heights along stretches of various waterways, collecting a total of 568 pounds of trash.
This is the second state-wide award Diamond received this year on behalf of Val’s Valiants clean ups. “I’m honored to have received these awards,” said Diamond. “I enjoy doing what I can to help to keep my community clean, while also trying to do something good for the environment.”