SUNRISE, Fla. — Protecting South Florida’s coastal areas, exploring the impact of urban development on the Hudson River Estuary and raising awareness about Atlantic menhaden fish populations are just a few of the sustainability projects middle school students will present today at the 20th annual Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education in Sunrise, Florida.
In all, 150 students from 15 schools in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida will gather to present their projects to a panel of Wheelabrator Technologies employees, educators and environmental experts. A first for the Symposium series, each team presentation will be made available online, enabling classmates, family, friends, teachers, school administrators, and community and business leaders to watch the presentations unfold live at www.wheelabratortechnologies.com/livestream/.
“The Wheelabrator Symposium has served as the foundation of our efforts to help build sustainable communities and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Mark Weidman, president of Hampton, New Hampshire-based renewable energy provider Wheelabrator. “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary, we applaud participating employees, educators and students for their inspiring dedication to sustainability over two decades. It is our hope that all students engaged in this environmental summit will continue to be inspired to make a difference and serve as advocates for the environment.”
Under the guidance of local educators and Wheelabrator employees, student teams identified an environmental issue in their local communities at the start of the school year and decided how best to address it. Now, they must demonstrate to a panel of educators and environmental experts at the annual 4-day Symposium how they developed and implemented long-term solutions to those issues.
Through a partnership with third-generation ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau, the 2014 Wheelabrator Symposium’s theme, “Connecting to the Oceans,” encouraged students to link the quality of their local environment to the health of the seas around us. Cousteau will serve as a guest speaker at the Symposium’s 20th anniversary celebration.
“For 20 years, Wheelabrator’s Environmental Symposium program has encouraged citizenship, environmental stewardship and innovative thinking among young people,” said Fabien Cousteau, first grandson of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. “It is our obligation to provide support and guidance to the next generation. I commend Wheelabrator and its employees for their commitment to providing middle school students with the resources and opportunities to become active environmental leaders in their communities.”
Since 1994, the Wheelabrator Symposium has been a key component of the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts, empowering more than 3,000 students to become active community environmental leaders. Wheelabrator also provides participating schools with in-kind and financial support, as well as a monetary donation at the conclusion of the Symposium, and students can later qualify for a scholarship through Wheelabrator’s partnership with Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Symposium incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) concepts and provides students with an interdisciplinary view of environmental issues and solutions.
This year’s stakeholder panel includes Cousteau; Director of Physics Labs at Fisk University Kent Wallace; President and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council Paul Timpanelli; and Dr. Merilyn Johnson STEM Supervisor and Curriculum Science Specialist for Broward County Public Schools. Jose Dotres, Broward County’s Chief Academic Officer and Senior Leadership Cabinet member in charge of STEM, will provide opening remarks.
The day will culminate with an awards dinner hosted by WPLG Local 10 (ABC) Meteorologist Roland Steadham and feature the keynote address by Cousteau, founder of Plant a Fish