Secaucus celebrates Arbor Day

Student, resident environmental work recognized

Residents may notice newly-added bursts of orange and yellow flowers around Secaucus, evidence that Arbor Day has left its mark. In honor of this annual celebration of trees and the environment, the Department of Public Works last week planted some 80 French Marigold plants throughout Secaucus.
Following an Arbor Day celebration in Buchmuller Park last Tuesday, four varieties were planted: the Bonanza Orange, Bonanza Bee, and Bonanza Yellow.

Resident honored

As part of the festivities, Anna Zotti-Conklin, a retired school teacher, was recognized for her efforts to get more trees planted in Secaucus, her second honor in as many months.
On the recommendation of Mayor Dennis Elwell, Zotti-Conklin had been honored in March by Hudson County as a woman “taking the lead to save our planet.” The county honor was in connection with Women’s History Month and paid homage to grassroots environmentalists.
“I nominated Mrs. Zotti-Conklin because it seems like for years she’s been pushing the town to plant more trees around Secaucus,” Elwell said last week after the Arbor Day event. “Sometimes people get nominated for these types of [honors] and they go to people who are kind of well-known. But I’ve tried to nominate residents of our community who have done smaller things that still had some impact.”
During the Arbor Day event, Zotti-Conklin, who has lived in Secaucus for 30 years, encouraged students to develop their passion for the environment into adulthood. Prior to reading two student poems, she said, “Trees are the unsung heroes of our environment. They protect us. They shelter us. Many times we uproot them when we shouldn’t. And when we do uproot them, we should grow a new one in their place.”

Arbor Day/Earth Day

Arbor Day, generally held on or around April 22, was first celebrated more than 100 years ago in the Midwest as a holiday to encourage tree-planting. More recently, April 22 has become known as Earth Day, which began in the early ’70s and is regarded as the start of the modern environmental movement.
In general, Earth Day addresses broader environmental issues than tree planting. Several cities and states today recognize April 22 as Earth Day/Arbor Day.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at

Clarendon wins recycling competition; kids win various contests

Education was the focus of the town’s recent Arbor Day event, so students from Huber Street and Clarendon schools were on hand to share what they’ve learned about protecting the planet.
Students were also recognized for their recycling efforts. Each year students in town participate in a competition to see which schools can recycle the most crayons. These days, environmentalists recommend that children use soy crayons rather than traditional ones made of wax. Soy crayons, they say, are biodegradable and thus are less toxic to the environment than crayons of old, which were made from petroleum-based paraffin wax.
To encourage families to get toxic wax crayons out the home and recycled properly, the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) each year sponsors a crayon recycling program as part of America Recycles Day, held in the fall, then announces the winners on Arbor Day. Schools compete against others in their district.
This year, students at Clarendon recycled the most crayons, 225 lbs., and came in first place, with Huber and Immaculate Conception School placing second (195 lbs.) and third (40 lbs.), respectively.
The results were announced by HCIA chairman and Secaucus Town Councilman John Shinnick.
Seven students also received awards for Arbor Day-themed posters they created. Those students included Huber first grader Julia Rinaldi; Clarendon second grader Sean Lawlor; Angelica Hernandez, a third grader at Immaculate Conception; Sy Mattori, a fourth grade student at Huber; Clarendon fifth grader Kaylee Brower; Clarendon sixth grader Kaitlin Schlemm; and Eric Yang, also a sixth grader at Clarendon. Each poster winner received s $25 gift card to the Sports Authority.
Entertainment for the celebration was provided compliments of the first grade class from Clarendon and second graders from Huber. – EAW

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