Environmental Commission Chair Sandy Keen discusses two upcoming events
The Monroe Township Environmental Commission will play host to two events this month, Aug. 13 and Aug. 25.
The first is a rain barrel workshop that will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Gloucester County 4-H Nature Reserve, 3950 S. Black Horse Pike in Williamstown. This event is free to attend and open to anyone. Environmental Commission Chair Sandy Keen discussed the details of the event.
“The goal is to make 12 rain barrels,” Keen said.
The rain barrels, which are 55 gallons, are intended to collect rain to repurpose the water in places that don’t have water readily available. For example, the nature reserve where the event is taking place doesn’t have a well. Keen said they are in the process of having a well dug, but they don’t have water readily available there to water the gardens.
“It helps teach kids to make good use of the land,” she added. “[For example,] there are two basins at the middle school. The children planted trees, summer grasses and made a wildlife habitat for the area that acts as drainage because of the root system. It stops chemicals like oils from running into the basin.”
Stormwater management is paramount in Keen’s eyes and holding this event will give her the opportunity to spread her passion with the community.
“I’m happy we’re coming together and doing this like this.” Keen said.
The second event, an educational Good Stewardship Event/Program, is slated for 9 a.m. at the same location.
Per the flier provided by Keen, this event will also teach stormwater management and the importance of bees in the environment.
This event is aimed toward children to bridge the gap between the environmental science academy at the high school and the children who are starting to learn about environmental science.
“We’re starting a 4-H Environmental Stewardship Club which will be tied in with Rutgers.” Keen said.
She discussed the need for environmental scientists in New Jersey and cited the beach closings in Monmouth County as evidence.
Keen is particularly excited about the rain garden aspect of this event.
“The rain garden will follow Chris Obropta’s rain garden manual which will teach them about stormwater management,” she said.
Obropta is a professor with the department of environmental sciences at Rutgers University.
The 4-H Nature Preserve is located directly in front of 8,000 acres of wildlife called the Winslow Wildlife Management Area. It is a state-preserved area that manages animals and forests. Due to the close proximity, the attendees will be up close and personal with the area they are actively trying to protect.
Keen is grateful for the leadership in the community that allows her to put her passion to work.
“Our mayor put a sense of pride back into the environmental heritage of our community while still growing the community,” she said. “This I know through planning alone [planning and zoning boards]. In his administration, we have grown gardens and knowledge of stormwater management.”
For more information on the two upcoming events, the environmental commission can be reached by email at MonroeTownshipEC@gmail.com.