MILLBURY, Mass. — Stewards of the environment and advocates for sustainability, 130 members of a rising “green” generation including a group of Millbury Jr/Sr High students came forth to share their ideas at the 18th annual Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education on April 30-May 3 in Sunrise, Fla.
Through the symposium, middle-school students representing New England, the mid-Atlantic and Florida commit to a six-month learning project, identifying an environmental challenge in their community and developing a long-term solution. Under the guidance of educators and Wheelabrator employees, students apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-life situations.
“This is the generation that’s going to inherit our environmental legacy,” said Bill Roberts, vice president of operations at Wheelabrator. “Every year that we sponsor this event feels like a little more we’re preparing them to leave the world better than they found it.”
Tackling issues such as recycling, sustainable gardening and protecting endangered wildlife, 13 teams – including a group from Millbury Memorial Jr./Sr. High School – traveled to Sunrise for the four days to present their projects and solutions to a panel of educators, government officials and local community volunteers.
“The symposium is a true example of community learning. It’s an experience that our students will keep talking about for many years to come,” said Millbury teacher John Hillier.
The Millbury team researched alternatives to road salt for their project this year, comparing Safe Melt and Natural Alternative Ice Melt. They also worked to educate the community on the negative effects of road salt, including the contamination of drinking water and increased potholes on the roads.
Participating schools each received $500 in startup funds and will receive a $1,000 donation from Wheelabrator at the conclusion of the event. In addition, students can later qualify to earn a four-year scholarship through Wheelabrator’s partnership with Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.
The symposium wrappped up with a visit to the Miami Seaquarium and an awards dinner, featuring speaker Fabien Cousteau, third generation ocean explorer and founder of Plant a Fish™, Cousteau is the grandson of legendary ocean explorer and inventor of the SCUBA system Jacques Cousteau.
“It is the job of each of us to pass to the next generation a passion for studying the environment and provide support to them to make a difference to improve the planet,” said Cousteau.
“If we don’t encourage our kids to be better stewards than we are, what will they inherit? I commend Wheelabrator for providing the opportunity to these students to conduct these research projects, and I am so impressed with their creativity and willingness to implement their solutions.”
ABOUT WHEELABRATOR TECHNOLOGIES INC.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. is a leader in the safe and environmentally sound conversion of MSW and other renewable waste fuels into clean energy. Wheelabrator’s 17 waste-to-energy facilities provide safe waste disposal for towns and cities across the U.S.
Wheelabrator also operates five independent power plants designed to generate electricity using an assortment of fuels, including waste wood, tires, waste coal, and natural gas. In addition to producing electricity, some of these facilities also produce steam sold to nearby government and commercial establishments.
Wheelabrator’s 22 facilities have a combined electric generating capacity of 896 megawatts, enough energy to power more than 985,000 homes. To learn more, visit www.wheelabratortechnologies.com.