11th Grader Robert Fornes Takes Initiative to Clean Up Jersey City Beach
January 29, 2021
What inspired you to start cleaning up the Port Liberty beach?
Two years ago, I was taking water samples in the Hudson River for a science experiment and I started to notice tires scattered all throughout the Port Liberty Beach near my home. And I thought I had to take action to help fix it. I sent out an email to the homeowners’ association in my neighborhood and recruited several neighbors to help pick up all the garbage on the beach. After doing this consistently over the past two years, there is barely any garbage or debris on the beach.
How many people have gotten involved since you started the initiative?
My goal is to put in as much time and effort as I can, but I can't just do it alone. I have a lot of people behind me to help and to just fix this overall issue of pollution. There were about twenty people from my neighborhood initially. I also recruited a group of friends from my neighborhood who help after school. And another good part about this is it reflects on CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) hours which is an important aspect and requirement for the IB, but that’s not the only reason I’m doing it.
How do you keep this project running by yourself?
I have a side hobby of sneaker reselling, and I’m able to take some of that money and invest it in gloves, garbage bags, and other supplies that are necessary, to pick up all this toxic waste and debris from the Hudson.
Is environmental science a passion for you?
It’s definitely a passion of mine. I’m considering pursuing marine biology in college. I’m also enrolled in ESS (Environmental Systems and Societies), which focuses primarily on ecosystems, which has been a really good tie-in with this project.
Why is this initiative important to you?
The beach is a short walk from my house, and I love going down there to check out the scenery. It’s also a nature preserve, and I’ve seen so much biodiversity there over the past few years. It’s only open during the winter because during the summer the birds migrate there. It’s important to me to be able to pick up as much trash I could while the beach is open to people so all of the animals have a clean place to go in the spring.
What are your long-term goals?
My long-term goal is to keep this up until I leave for college. Before I leave, I want to make a really big impact and hopefully inspire a lot of people to keep it up.