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East Amwell Township School’s Environment Club Receives New Jersey Food Council Scholarship Award from NJCCC

EAST AMWELL, NJ – July 23, 2018 – The East Amwell Township School’s Environment Club has received the New Jersey Food Council Scholarship Award from the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) for an ongoing commitment to innovative recycling.

Sharon Ernst, a fifth-grade science teacher at East Amwell Township School, who is also in-charge of the elementary school’s Environment Club, accepted the award. Ernst said she applied because of her pride in the fourth- and fifth-grade club members, adding the $1,000 scholarship was icing on the cake.

For the past 10 years, the East Amwell Township School participates in an organization called “TerraCycle” that aims to recycle traditionally “non-recyclable” items. Items can include anything from chip bags to beauty products, collected by the students, staff, parents and the entire East Amwell community.

Each classroom has a bin for collection. East Amwell sends about 20 filled bins every two months to TerraCycle. The recycler then sends funds from the collected products, which supports improvements to the school’s garden.

This well-tended garden comprises flowers, plants and crops. It also includes butterfly plants that attract different native butterflies, spice bushes, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, beans and cucumbers. Bird feeders and birdhouses also hang in the garden to attract birds for students to identify and study.

“I just wasn’t expecting this award,” Ernst said. “I’m just so happy about what my school and community is doing; I just had to share it. We can put that money towards investing in a cleaner school environment, adding more plants to our garden at school. We can even fix up the garden, maybe add some benches for people to sit and enjoy the view.

“The students learn so much from being outside in the garden and greenhouse,” Ernst added. “It’s a hands-on activity and they are absorbing it all. There are students who have graduated who come back to me and say, ‘I remember planting lettuce or the butterfly bush, and now I can identify certain native butterflies.’ That’s because of this garden.”

Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), who was on hand to present the scholarship, said the East Amwell School is a “superb example of children committed to recycling and reaping the rewards of a healthy environment. We are proud of what the students have accomplished in East Amwell.”

Doherty, who also serves as vice chair of the NJCCC, said the students and teachers are helping both the NJCCC and NJFC fulfill a mission of education and advocacy.

NJFC has presented school scholarships to deserving, environmentally-active student groups for about 10 years at the NJCCC’s annual awards banquet.

NJCCC is a comprehensive, statewide litter-abatement program that has served New Jersey residents and visitors for more than 25 years. Learn more at