Students from nine Rockland County high schools will get hands-on experience at land use planning at collaborative workshops with Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Rockland Conservation & Service Corps.
Hosted by Keep Rockland Beautiful, Lamont-Doherty, and Rockland Conservation & Service Corps, and supported by a $25,000 grant from SUEZ North America Foundation, Inc., Rockland P.L.U.S. 2017 (RPlus) is a unique land use planning program for high school students.
"As a steward of natural resources, the SUEZ Foundation supports innovative environmental programs across the world. Rockland P.L.U.S. is a very unique and impactful program that educates high school students about the key principles of land-use planning, green building design and conservation," said SUEZ Director of External Affairs Bill Madden. "SUEZ is delighted to partner with Keep Rockland Beautiful on this important program as well as a number of other environmental initiatives."
He said SUEZ awarded RPlus its first $25,000 grant in 2015, and all told, have given more than $230,000 in grants to Rockland organizations in the last two years.
"RPLUS engages students in learning about real-world development issues and the role they can play in building vibrant communities that ensure a healthy environment today and into the future," said Keep Rockland Beautiful Executive Director Sonia Cairo.
Additional funding for the program has been contributed by Old York Foundation, People's United Community Foundation, and the Rockland Municipal Planning Federation.
RPLUS begins with three classroom workshops at the participating Rockland high schools. These workshops are facilitated by environmental educators from Keep Rockland Beautiful and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
Students will discuss features of a sustainable, healthy, livable community for all ages and stages of life. They then focus on envisioning and mapping out a local site for redevelopment, considering the full range of its potential impacts on the environment, economy and social fabric.
They will incorporate specific examples of green building design and infrastructure in their plans, while learning how waste reduction, water and energy conservation benefit local resources and conditions. They will also address the global challenges of climate change.
The program culminates in a symposium at the HNA Palisades Premier Conference Center on Thursday, March 23, 2017. HNA is donating its facility for the event.
At the symposium, students will work together in small groups under the guidance of more than 35 professionals from fields such as planning, engineering, real estate, environmental science and law. Students will share poster presentations of the redevelopment plan they created in their classroom workshops, then break out into mixed school teams for collaborative planning charrettes with mentors.
In addition to educating students about sustainable planning and heightening their awareness of environmental and related community issues, the project builds bridges across racial, ethnic and class divides by mixing students from different school districts together at the symposium, providing a structure for the students to share perspectives on community issues and needs.
The RPlus curriculum can be found here.
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