In the midst of a cold and bitter winter, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey students donated their time to a place ripe with the promise of spring.

Ten students volunteered to maintain and beautify sections of the Community Garden and Poetry Trail at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority’s Environ-mental Park in Egg Harbor Township.

Students also worked at the ACUA greenhouse facility as part of last month’s Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service, said Maria Mento, ACUA executive vice president and CFO.

The Day of Service gave the students — most of whom had not worked together before, Mento said — “a chance to get to know each other as they worked together preparing ACUA’s greenhouse for community use.”

Starting in late February, Stockton’s Sustainability Food and Agriculture class, taught by Linda Smith, will be one of several groups using the greenhouse.

After completing work there, Mento said, the students turned to the nearby Community Garden space and Poetry Trail.

“The students are great,” Mento said. “We truly appreciate their help and the opportunity to share what we do with them, which goes beyond solid waste management.”

This year’s student volunteers, Mento said, ranged from freshmen to graduate students and included those studying nursing, physical therapy, philosophy, computer and environmental science and visual communication.

Stockton and ACUA have partnered on projects before. The ACUA has provided internships to Stockton students, and professors have brought students to the ACUA wastewater treatment facility and solid waste complex.

“The college and ACUA both have strong environmental identities, so it makes sense for us to work together on service projects,” Mento said.

In the past, Stockton students have sold some of the organic plants grown in the greenhouse as part of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture course at the ACUA’s Earth Day celebration in April.

Plants grow year-round in the greenhouse unheated, including cold season crops such as lettuce, radishes, carrots and beets.

For information on volunteer opportunities at the ACUA or to access or use the ACUA greenhouse or Community Garden, call 690-272-6950 or visit

Contact Steven Lemongello:

609-272-7275

@SteveLemongello on Twitter

Been working with the Press for about 27 years.