Six student teams that participated in the NJ Student Climate Challenge were honored by Atlantic City Electric, Exelon, the Drumthwacket Foundation, and Sustainable Jersey for their innovative approaches to help address climate change, according to a news release from the New Jersey Governor’s Office.

Student teams, from high schools and middle schools across New Jersey, were tasked with developing and executing a school or community-based climate action project and creating a digital story or video to capture the approach and impacts of their climate project. Student team winners and their teacher mentors were recognized at a June 8 awards ceremony hosted by the Drumthwacket Foundation with Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s first lady.

High School Category Winners

  • First Place: Youth Environmental Society Team from Central High School, Hopewell Valley Regional School District, Mercer County.
  • Second Place: Buy Local/Bye Climate Change Team from South Plainfield High School, South Plainfield School District, Middlesex County.
  • Third Place: Team E-Bike Share from Penns Grove High School, Penns Grove Carneys Point Regional School District, Salem County.

Middle School Category Winners

  • First Place: Compost United Team from Howell Township Middle School South, Howell Township Public School District, Monmouth County.
  • Second Place: Lake Riviera Green Team from Lake Riviera Middle School, Brick Township Public Schools, Ocean County.
  • Third Place: The Fantastic Plastics Team from Howell Township Middle School South, Howell Township Public School District, Monmouth County.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges that included educators and representatives from local nonprofits, state agencies and the partner organizations. Winning schools received a grant to support their climate education initiatives.

“It is an honor to join these bright young minds tonight as we celebrate their hard work on the NJ Student Climate Challenge action projects,” said Tammy Murphy, president of the Drumthwacket Foundation. “New Jersey is the first state in the nation to incorporate climate change education across its K-12 learning standards, giving every student the opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis by equipping them with the critical knowledge and skills to combat climate change.  Let these projects show that our state, and the world, are in good hands with the generations of climate leaders who will come from New Jersey.”

The NJ Student Climate Challenge is a program, funded by Atlantic City Electric and its parent company, Exelon, that was created to foster the growing role young people are playing in addressing climate change. The initiative builds on New Jersey’s efforts to increase climate literacy among young people across the state, including its first-in-the-nation effort to incorporate climate change education across all K-12 state academic standards.

“The best of the best across New Jersey are on display and it validates the bright future of the next generation. The students being awarded will continue to shape our efforts to fight the climate crisis,” said Melissa Lavinson, senior vice president of Federal Governmental and Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy for Exelon Corp. “I cannot truly express how proud I am to be a part of fostering the students’ growth and passion and help pave the way for them to achieve extraordinary and impactful outcomes through the NJ Student Climate Challenge.”

“The students being recognized not only demonstrated their deep-rooted knowledge, but also showed their passion and determination to combat climate change through their innovative ideas and approaches,” said Doug Mokoid, region president for Atlantic City Electric. “Now more than ever, we need the next generation to step up while climate change continues to impact our communities. Programs like the NJ Student Climate Challenge are doing just that – bringing to the forefront the next wave of young people who can and will make a difference.”

The NJ Student Climate Challenge is open to New Jersey public schools with students in grades 6-12 across the state. Middle and high school students are encouraged to identify and complete a school or community project to address a cause or impact of climate change. The students then create a short digital story video to highlight what they accomplished. Students participate through their respective schools. There is no cost to schools or students to participate. Teachers and students should plan now to participate in the NJ Student Climate Challenge for the 2022-2023 school year. Updated information for the 2022-2023 school year Climate Challenge will be posted here by early October 2022.

Earlier this year, the New Jersey School Boards Association and Sustainable Jersey released a comprehensive report with dozens of recommendations on how New Jersey schools can incorporate K-12 climate change education throughout the curriculum.

The guidance in “Report on K-12 Climate Change Education Needs in New Jersey” will serve as a key resource for the school community to successfully navigate new learning standards adopted in June 2020 that made New Jersey the first state to incorporate K-12 climate change education across content areas.