CREDIT: Ari Kaufman
Nov 06

Pingry Students Give Back


High school students from the Pingry School pose with rain barrels they worked to clean and construct for GSWA as part of their 2014 Rufus Gunther Community Service Project on October 31.

For the third year running, Pingry high school students could be found helping out Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) staff on the last Friday in October. Over the years Pingry pupils have helped GSWA grapple with a variety of tasks as part of the school’s Rufus Gunther Community Service Project. Those tasks have included the decoration of trails at GSWA’s Conservation Management Area in preparation for our Halloween-themed night walks. They’ve put their creativity to the test positioning skeletons, witches, and many miles of spider webbing to scare our guests, and they’ve honed their artistic talents by carving some uniquely designed jack-o-lanterns.

Although our Halloween hike was on hiatus this year, the kids and their advisers returned to engage in not one, but two important service projects on our behalf.

One group joined GSWA volunteers and staff members to remove Japanese barberry from a portion of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. With supervision and guidance from Great Swamp N.W.R. biologists, they cut back these spiny, non-native invasive shrubs so experts could come along and drip small amounts of herbicide on the pruned stems. This careful “trim and treat” process works to kill the roots of these leafy invaders once and for all.

Another group of 15 students went to work at GSWA’s headquarters on Tempe Wick Road. They cleared mountains of paper recycling out of our garage and they also helped us build some rain barrels that were donated to us by XXX.

Before any of our food-grade barrels can become runoff-capturing dynamos several things must happen. First, leftover food dregs must be scrubbed from the interior of the barrel. Next, barrel exteriors must be washed. Finally, holes must be cut and drilled into barrel walls in order to accommodate spigots and overflow pipes.

Over the course of their four-hour service commitment — and in spite of the unrelenting aroma of cocoa flavoring kicking up around them — our 15 intrepid students cleaned, scrubbed, cut, and drilled more than a dozen barrels. Thanks to their unflinching efforts, our newest crop of rain barrels will soon be put to work around our watershed storing runoff from downspouts and keeping the rain from the drain!

One of the barrels has already gone to work! Pingry staff left the service event with a finished rain barrel to place in the green garden at the school’s Basking ridge campus.

Thank you Pingry students for another great year of community partnership!


School Community Service

If your school has a community service requirement, we’d love to work with your students on creative and environmentally important projects.

Please contact GSWA’s Director of Outreach & Education Hazel England, GSWA’s for more information. Send email to or call (973) 538-3500 x20.