WEST ORANGE, NJ — Sustainable Jersey Directors Samantha McGraw, Randy Solomon and Kaitlyn Vollmer recently announced that the Township of West Orange has been awarded a $2,000 Sustainable Jersey grant to work with West Orange Public Schools (WOPS) students to construct artificial floating islands at Vincent's Pond in Degnan Park.

According to WOPS Superintendent Dr. Scott Cascone, the district is “excited and appreciative to have been a part of the receipt of this grant in partnership with Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the municipal government's Sustainable Jersey for the Township of West Orange.”

“The Artificial Floating Islands project presents a myriad of innovative learning opportunities from science to art to intergenerational programming,” he said. “I can't wait to see this grant put into motion.”

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Councilwoman Susan McCartney, who also serves as a member of the West Orange Environmental Commission, explained that the award will assist in a project that the township recently “presented to the West Orange High School science instructors for building an Artificial Floating Island (AFI) on Vincent's Pond.”

"Using recyclable plastic bottles to make a floating island, the funds would be used for water quality test kits and to purchase plants to grow on the floating island,” she said. “Working with Rutgers Agricultural Cooperative, the students would learn what pollutants are in the water and which plants would absorb the different particles.”

West Orange is one of 204 municipalities currently certified as a “Sustainable Jersey" township.

The grants, which were funded by the PSEG Foundation, ranged in size from $20,000 to $2,000 and were awarded to 31 New Jersey municipalities. Additionally, Five $20,000 grants, six $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants were distributed to municipalities in 14 New Jersey counties.

"The Sustainable Jersey Grant for the Artificial Floating Islands will play an important role in West Orange,” said Mayor Robert Parisi. “Plant life will be permitted to grow their roots deep in Vincent's Pond with deep roots in township history. These floating islands will add beauty and help us fulfill our role as responsible stewards of the environment.”

To see a similar AFI proposal, click here.