Students From Toms River High School East have completed their project to turn a potential eyesore into a work of art with a positive message in Ortley Beach. Now, the artwork will have some company from Mother Nature a few blocks south, with a local group receiving a grant to start a pollinator garden near the oceanfront.
Toms River High School East art students worked all last week to paint the mural on a conex-style shipping container that is used to store lifeguard equipment in the Third Avenue parking lot. A few finishing touches – the signature Ortley Beach dolphin and an outline to the wording – were ready to greet crowds over the long weekend.
The mural depicts a beach with the tagline, “Leave Nothing but Footprints…Keep Ortley Beach Clean.” The effort was led by High School East art teacher Katie Koenigstein.
On Tuesday, the township received news from New Jersey American Water company that it will donate $8,430 for a pollinator garden in Ortley Beach, NJ. The pollinator garden will be constructed on the sandy soil that exists between the parking lot and boardwalk between Coolidge Avenue and the oceanfront in Ortley Beach.
The pollinator garden will include a “vigorous outreach effort, hoping to inspire residents and travelers to incorporate more pollinator inclusive behavior when planting their own gardens,” a statement from the water company said. A pollinator garden is a garden that is planted with flowers and other plant species that provide nectar or pollen for native pollinators, such as butterflies, hummingbirds and other creatures that are beneficial to the environment.
The grant was formally awarded to the Toms River Environmental Commission, one of five projects to receive funding from the company.
The garden will be planted by volunteers. Anyone who wishes to sign up to help with the garden is asked to contact Sharon Quilter-Colucci at 732-687-0503 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Quilter-Colucci said she was also planning to attend the June 14 meeting of the Toms River Township council to further announce the garden and hand flyers to those who may be interested in volunteering.