Wheelabrator celebrates 20th annual Environmental Symposium
Since 1994, more than 3,000 students have participated

SUNRISE, Fla. The 2014 Wheelabrator Symposium in early May, “Connecting to the Oceans,” encouraged students to link the quality of their local environment to the health of the seas.

This year marked the 20th annual event and included a keynote speech by Fabien Cousteau, first grandson of the famed ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Since the Symposium began in 1994, more than 3,000 middle school students have participated.

In all, 150 students from 15 schools in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida  gathered in Sunrise, Fla., over four days. Under the guidance of local teachers and Wheelabrator employees, student teams identified an environmental issue in their community. Protecting South Florida’s coastal areas, exploring the impact of urban development on the Hudson River Estuary and raising awareness about Atlantic menhaden fish populations were just a few of the sustainability projects the students undertook.

For the first time, presentations were streamed online enabling classmates, family, friends, teachers, school administrators, and community and business leaders to watch the presentations unfold live. “For 20 years, Wheelabrator’s Environmental Symposium program has encouraged citizenship, environmental stewardship and  innovative thinking among young people,” said Cousteau. “It is our obligation to  provide support and guidance to the next generation.”

As part of Wheelabrator’s partnership with Cousteau, students will follow him during   his upcoming Mission 31. This 31-day-long research mission in the Florida Keys National  Marine Sanctuary will be aboard Aquarius, the only underwater marine habitat and lab in the world. Splashdown for Mission 31 was June 1.

PHOTO: As part of Wheelabrator Technologies Environmental Symposium, middle school students explored the Florida Everglades on an airboat to see alligators and other wildlife.