South Orangetown Central School District

Students in Tappan Zee High School science teacher Brian Newburger’s AP Environmental Science class joined students from local high schools for the Rockland PLUS (Planning Land Use with Students) Symposium at St. Thomas Aquinas College on March 31.

Rockland PLUS is a collaborative partnership of Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Keep Rockland Beautiful, Rockland Conservation & Service Corps and the Rockland County Soil & Water District. The program provides students with the opportunity to work with a location within their community to revitalize it and help the community achieve a balance between social, economic, equitable and environmental factors (S.E.E.E.). 

Beginning in January, TZHS students have worked alongside expert mentors to create sustainable development plans for the HNA Palisades Training Center. Students worked together to create their development plans using Google Earth before presenting their ideas at the Symposium Event.

In previous years, some of the ideas presented by students have been used for local development projects. “They’re getting to see first-hand what developers do to get a project started. They’ve been working together to think of ideas that would benefit the entire community— from how to be more sustainable to economic improvements,” said Newburger.

During the event, students met with mentors and presented the plans for their local projects before breaking out into groups with fellow high school students for a collaborative project to make sustainable changes to the Village of Haverstraw Chair Factory Site. “It’s been really interesting to participate in this program. As a class, we have been talking about topics that are really important to us and that will have a direct impact on us in the future including affordable housing, public transportation and how to help the environment,” said senior Rob V. “During our presentation, the mentors liked a lot of our ideas and gave us feedback. They explained which ideas would work and how to modify others.”

AP Environmental Science class