Lyndhurst — They’re just tiny specks in a vast ecosystem, but five floating islands thrown into the mudflats of the Meadowlands Environmental Center this week will harbor an abundance of life.
Ridgefield Park students visited the center Thursday morning to complete a month-long project as part of their summer strengthening program.
They spent an hour by the water. First, he planted two native species on artificial islands before carefully dropping them into shallow wetlands.
The final step was to secure them to the pier with heavy-duty cords.
Ronaldo Ureña, 15, one of the students who participated in the activity, says the experience has given him an understanding of wetland habitats.
“We’re making changes that many people don’t want,” said Ronaldo, who will be a freshman in high school in September.
“It’s a small thing, but we’re still helping the environment.”
The students arrived at the center in Richard W. Decolte Park at 9:30 am by school bus. Karin, the Center’s educator, was briefed on the project by her Lagreca and followed her across the jetty to the launch point, approximately 500 feet. coast.
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The island consisted of a 10-foot-long drain pipe filled with empty plastic bottles and formed into a ring. A sheet of mesh was secured to the plastic he tube with zip ties to form two sides.
Using utility knives, the students made a cut in the top of the island and wedged the root ball of the plant.
Islands have multiple advantages. Frogs, turtles, wrens and other birds seek refuge among cordgrass and flowering goldenrods. Small fish tend to hide below the surface, where biofilms grow within plant roots and attract large numbers of microscopic organisms.
Another advantage, according to the center’s educators, is how such projects can control the effects of climate change.
Mild temperatures can lead to the growth of harmful algae, but educators in charge of the program say the island’s aquatic plants reduce algae by absorbing algae-causing nutrients.
“It’s not a silver bullet,” said Angela Cristini, director of the center and professor of biology at Ramapo University in Mahwah, New Jersey. “But learning how to do this is a real way to combat global warming.”
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A field trip to the Center, a university-run facility of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, was the culmination of Ridgefield Park’s summer enrichment program.
We are making changes that many people do not want.
Ronaldo Ureña, 15 years old
Program co-coordinator Dennis Murry said this was a “great supplementary activity” for students.
“Additionally, we will support the academics needed to achieve more success in the coming year,” he said.
Hundreds of students in the K-12 school district entered the extended school year that began June 28. It was provided free of charge to parents and paid for through the COVID-19 Relief Grant. In May, the school board approved her $55,000 contract with the center to provide her STEM-based instruction during the program.
Murri said the floating island project is for 51 students who have just finished sixth, seventh and eighth grades. In the coming months, they plan to return to the swamp to see how their work has been done.
Michele Dailey, the center’s district program coordinator, said educators at the facility offered lessons to students with special needs in Little Ferry this summer. She said they will be in Ringwood next month.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. Subscribe now or activate your digital account for unlimited access to the most important news from your local community.
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