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Melissa Hannan at the 2016 New Jersey Clean Communities Council Teen Awards Slam Dunk the Junk conference at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

BRIGANTINE — Since 2005, Atlantic County Institute of Technology educator Melissa Hannan has been involved with the New Jersey Clean Communities Council. The Brigantine resident participates in numerous beach clean-ups and helped organize the statewide Slam Dunk the Junk awards at the annual Clean Communities conferences in 2013 and 2016.

The council is honoring Hannan with the Clean Communities Environmental Student Exchange award for her role in coordinating the council's annual Student Environmental Exchange this past spring. During the two-day conference in March, students from ACIT helped teach younger students the importance of environmental awareness.

Hannan has always been interested in helping the environment. When she was little, Hannan could be found picking up litter along the Barnegat Light beach. But it was not until she was older that she learned the importance of her actions.

“I became more aware of the damage that plastic is doing to our oceans and wanted to be a part of the solution,” Hannan said. “I feel that it is my duty as an educator to teach younger generations the importance of taking care of the Earth so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same experiences we did.”

In the future, Hannan plans on pursuing her goal of promoting environmental stewardship through the Brigantine Beach Clean Communities Council.

The Clean Communities Council is a comprehensive, statewide litter-abatement program that has served New Jersey residents and visitors for more than 25 years. Learn more at njclean.org.

Editorial Administrative Assistant

Started working with the Press in the Circulation Department in 2006 and moved to Editorial in 2008. Previously worked in Circulation and Advertising at the Asbury Park Press.

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