PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- The Peekskill Middle School Environmental Club is tackling an issue that hits very close to home.
The club is studying the impact of urban and industrial development on the health of the Hudson River as part of the 2014 Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education.
The theme of the 2014 Wheelabrator Symposium, “Connecting to the Oceans,” is designed to engage students in research, scientific study and community projects linking the quality of the local environment to the health of the seas around us.
Students are examining the effect that growing urbanization, industrialization and development has had on the Hudson River Estuary Watershed and how these activities have altered the water quality and ecosystems directly around Peekskill as well as the New York Harbor area over time. The students are organizing a cleanup along the waterway later this spring.
At a recent environmental club meeting, students were hearing a presentation from Hudson River Sloop Clearwater about items that pollute the Hudson and how it can be cleaned.
"Forty years ago, it was legal for people to dump waste into the Hudson River," Eli Schloss of Clearwater said. "We've come a long way."
Liz Damiano, one of the faculty advisers, said she has enjoyed her three years with the environmental club.
"These kids want to learn," Damiano said. "They are very engaged. They really care about the environment. They want to make the world better for themselves."
Damiano said despite being the faculty adviser, the program is very student driven.
"The program is all them," Damiano said. "They are learning teamwork, leadership, how to do research and public speaking."
Giovanna Toscano said she wanted to help improve the environment.
"I wanted to make a difference," Toscano said. "We better clean up the Hudson."
Mya Guardino said a lot of her friends were in the club and she wanted to check it out.
"I have really enjoyed it," Guardino said. "You get to learn so much. I feel it has made me smarter."
Students will travel to Florida in May to present their project to a panel of Wheelabrator employees, educators and environmental experts at a 4-day symposium, which is expected to draw 150 students from participating schools.
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