Monmouth County teens care for local waters
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/24/07 by TODD B. BATES, ENVIRONMENTAL WRITER
Cousins Kelsey and Rachel Clayton, students at Wall High School, took their first-ever ocean water samples Tuesday near the outfall from polluted Wreck Pond in southern Monmouth County. The samples then were brought to a school lab to check fecal bacteria levels, according to Joe Mairo, a biology teacher at the school.
Manasquan High School students also are taking water samples — from three spots around Wreck Pond — as part of the project, said Thomas Glenn, a chemistry and science teacher at the high school. "It's kind of cool because the kids are excited about it and it kind of gives them a window into (the field of environmental science)," Glenn said.
Wreck Pond, which separates Spring Lake and Sea Girt, has been the source of most of New Jersey's ocean swimming bans during recent beach seasons. And the students are learning about what it's like to test the waters and about the local environment, according to Mairo.
The Jersey Shore chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit grass-roots environmental group, is sponsoring the project, which is funded by a $3,000 grant from the Wachovia Charitable Services Group, Mairo said. The project is part of the Surfrider Foundation's Blue Water Task Force program, which involves water quality monitoring, education and advocacy.
On Tuesday, Kelsey Clayton, a 17-year-old senior at Wall High School, and her cousin, Rachel Clayton, 15, a freshman there, took two ocean water samples. Both are members of the school's Environmental Club. They took one sample north of the new, 300-foot outfall pipe from the pond and the other sample south of the pipe. The air temperature was in the 50s, in sharp contrast to the 30s the day before, according to a National Weather Service Web site.
"We're just excited to give them the experience . . . in the lab and the field, especially on a day like today," said Mairo, 29, of Bradley Beach, a faculty adviser to the environmental club, along with science teacher Bob Dillon.
The girls used an approximately 10-foot-long pole to collect the samples, according to Mairo, a surfer and board member of the Jersey Shore chapter. "They don't have to . . . worry about getting wet or falling in or anything like that," he said.
The sampling, which began last month, is to continue through June and may continue next school year, he said.
"We're trying to do it twice a month," Mairo said.
Samples taken last month revealed a low level of fecal bacteria on the north side of the pipe and a moderate level on the south side. Samples grabbed on Tuesday revealed a moderate bacteria level north of the pipe and a low level south of it, Mairo said.
Kelsey Clayton said she's been a member of the Environmental Club since freshman year. "I enjoy being outside," she said. "I just wanted to join a club that helped."
Kelsey, who wants to be a pilot and has been accepted at five colleges, all aeronautical schools, said she's interested in environmental issues and would like to study the topic in college. She's writing an English paper on global warming, she said. She's also taking a horticulture class and growing peas and strawberries.
Rachel Clayton said she joined the environmental club "just to get involved in school and . . . helping the environment is kind of something I'm interested in."
"I like the outdoors," she said.
Manasquan High School seniors Lee Kresge, Phil Lewis and Veronica Impellizeri are taking samples from Wreck Pond weekly, said Glenn, an environmental science major in college and faculty adviser to that school's Environmental Club. "A lot of the kids who are in my club are really thinking of going into environmental science," said Glenn, 30, of Point Pleasant. The sampling project "kind of gives them . . . a real world application," he said.
"It's a very small window compared to some of the things you're going to do (in the environmental field)," he said.