Ben Franklin Students proudly display the Eco School’s Green Flag presented to the school from the National Wildlife Federation. Pictured from left to right: Donald Kirkman (first grade), Darius Hickmond (kindergarten), Jaelynn Johnson (kindergarten), Connor Byrnes (second grade), Jordan Johnson (second grade), & Arnav Aggarwal (third grade).

Ben Franklin celebrates its accomplishments by planting a Butterfly bush in the SNAP space. Pictured from left to right Curtis Fischer (National Wildlife Federation Representative), Dr. Crystal Edwards (Lawrence Township Public Schools Superintendent), Chris Turnbull (Ben Franklin Principle) and Councilwoman Pam Mount.

Ben Franklin Elementary School won the Eco-School USA green flag award, making them the only public school in New Jersey to win this distinction.

The school community was awarded for conserving natural resources and integrating an educational curriculum in kindergarten through third grade classes.

To be considered a green flag candidate, schools must submit an application detailing the actions they have taken to satisfy the National Wildlife Federation’s EcoSchool’s criteria. Ben Franklin satisfied these requirements through its recycling, wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship programs.

As part of its recycling program, the school has “Trash Free Tuesdays” to reduce waste during the school day. The school also recycles about 30,000 milk cartons a year, equivalent to 800 pounds of trash.

Ben Franklin is replacing their Styrofoam lunch trays with 100 percent biodegradable cornstarch trays, which will result in a reduction of 34,000 trays per year.

Students are integral to the recycling program. “EPA student representatives” collect trash from the classrooms daily and monitor water usage to assure they are reaching their conservation goal.

The children are practicing wildlife conservation by maintaining a trout tank. They are responsible for measuring the pH in the tank and feeding the fish daily.

When the trout reach maturity they are set to be released into a local stream or lake.

Ben Franklin also formed an after-school program called Stream Keepers, which focuses on conserving natural resources by observing, comparing and documenting the land and water ecosystems.

Lastly, in an effort to make their school more sustainable Ben Franklin faculty, staff and students created a SNAP (Science, Nature, Artist, Pondering) space.

Students have grown beans and potatoes in their classrooms, which are set to be placed in the SNAP space. To support growth, the children extract “Worm tea” from composite and add to their garden.

An award ceremony to celebrate Ben Franklin’s accomplishments took place on April 26, 2013.

The ceremony included a school-wide assembly, a butterfly bush dedication ceremony in the SNAP space and guest speaker classroom visits.

Representatives from US EPA, PSEG, National Wildlife Federations, Sustainable New Jersey and Mercer County, including the Mayor James Kownacki and superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards were in attendance.

Eco School empowers students and faculty to raise awareness to reduce, reuse, and recycle.