Clean Ocean Action’s Student Summit Brings Learning Beyond the Classroom

Seaside Park, NJ – Clean Ocean Action (COA) brought together hundreds of middle school students and teachers for the 24th Annual Student Summit.  The event was held at Island Beach State Park, Seaside Park from 9a.m.-12:30p.m.

Over 350 middle school students from 11 schools experienced hands-on marine environmental education by participating in a roundtable of six environmental workstations, as well as six interactive field activities.


“From holding a horseshoe crab to water sampling, kids get an up-close look at their coastal world,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action (COA).  “There is something extraordinary about the experience of holding a living creature that’s basically unchanged since long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Students gain a sense of awe about their natural world, which leads to stewardship” Zipf continued.

Some of the environmental learning activities included seashell identification, invertebrate identification, Project Terrapin, and activities to identify and propose solutions for pollution sources.  Students were instructed on the proper handling of horseshoe crabs and explored the impact of marine debris on marine life.  Students from the Ocean County Technical and Vocational School’s Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Studies (MATES) High School served as peer teachers at workstations and field trips.

In addition, local naturalists and other marine education professionals led students in six field activities throughout the park.  Summit participants went birding, used seine nets in Barnegat Bay to collect and identify common marine species of the Bay, swept the beach of debris and learned of the harmful effects of litter on marine life, tested the water quality of Barnegat Bay, explored the beach with a scavenger hunt, and traversed the trails of IBSP.

Clean Ocean Action’s summits have reached thousands of school students in New Jersey for 24 years, expanding learning beyond the classroom.  The Summit program has been designed to present students with an interdisciplinary marine and environmental education experience that complements the New Jersey Science Standards. 

“COA’s Student Summit program not only educates students about the marine environment, but instills students with a sense of environmental stewardship.  With limited out-of- the classroom opportunities available to students, it is essential we get students outside and educated about the importance of being good advocates for a healthy environment,” said Tavia Danch, COA Education Coordinator.

The Fall Student Summit was sponsored by Provident Bank Foundation and made possible by the assistance from: the staff at Island Beach State Park, Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science (MATES).

For information on other COA educational programs or events, visit or call COA’s Main Office at (732) 872-0111.