Poster Contest Inspires Pesticide Reduction in New Jersey
Local Organizer Offers Shining Example of Successful Activism
Joe Speeney is a dynamo, the kind of guy who get things done. Galled by the pesticide spraying that he saw as a threat to his son’s health several years ago, he has since taken action by organizing lectures, creating other educational campaigns, helping to pass local legislation.
A writer was so impressed by Joe that he became the lead item of a historic Men’s Health magazine article about this time last year.
Since then, Joe hasn’t let up. We were particularly impressed by a campaign Joe helped conceive for the Bernards Township Environmental Commission where he is chairperson. A poster contest, involving hundreds of children, challenged the children to learn about and then interpret the dangers of toxic substances.
He issued a press release and last week the children basked in the glow of their accomplishments during a ceremony at Basking Ridge, N.J., attended by all sorts of community leaders.
“As you may know, Bernards Township, N.J., has taken a leadership position in caring for its municipal and school lawns, parks, and sports fields without the use of lawn care pesticides and synthetic fertilizers,” he said. “Our school district’s science department developed an ecosystem curriculum model integrating information about the hazards of lawn care pesticides, and explained how such impacts can be avoided with a basic organic lawn care process focusing on soil biology. The students brought this learning to life with some very creative posters illustrating the issues with lawn care pesticides and the benefits of organic lawn care.”
People around North America are amazed when I tell them that of all the 50 states in the this country, New Jersey is by far the most progressive — with 36 communities having banned the applications of cosmetic pesticides on public property. It’s programs like this one that other communities need to use as a model . . . it’s time for them to catch up.
Here’s a link to the winning posters and press package: http://www.bernards.org/Environmental%20Commission/Document/2011/061311%20Poster%20Contest%20Summary.pdf