|Dune restoration by students at Sandy Hook - Photo via ahherald.com|
Marine Academy of Science and Technology (M.A.S.T.) is a co-ed four-year high school, grades 9-12. It is one of five career academies administered by the Monmouth County Vocational School District. The Marine Academy is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. The school's curriculum focuses on marine sciences and marine technology/engineering.
The school was recognized by New Jersey Audubon and National Wildlife Federation with an Eco-Schools Award. MAST students developed and implemented a plan to increase dune vegetation lost in Hurricane Sandy. The dunes are natural line of defense in protecting coastal communities during hurricanes and other storms.
On Sandy Hook, waves and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy badly damaged the dunes and the students identified one damaged area of particular ecological importance in an area within the park called the “critical zone.” This zone is the thinnest area and susceptible to overwash and flooding from storm events.
Working under the supervision of the National Park Service, the students planted over 1,000 dune grass plants over a span of 3,000 feet along the beaches of Sandy Hook.
The National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program is run by New Jersey Audubon in our state with a goal to engage schools in efforts to improve student environmental literacy and skills. The MAST dune restoration project earned them the Bronze Award.
MAST students participate in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) in lieu of Physical Education. The school is is located in the Fort Hancock Historic Area at the tip of Sandy Hook, sothe project was very "local." Their campus is adjacent to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the country.