Monmouth University, Rumson team up for science and service

Rumson Councilmember Ben Day walked through the borough’s boat launch, toward the Navesink River, and pointed out the wildlife.

“Even now I can see heron over there, heron over there,” he said.

Day also serves on the school board. He says for years, the habitat has attracted exploration of its marine life.

Addressing the crowd who showed up, Day added, “The students from the local school have come down for their science classes for a long, long time. And this seems like the logical extension of that into something that embraces, not only the first grade and second grade, but the high school and Monmouth University.”

The borough and the university unveiled a partnership that seems as natural a fit as turning the area of two rivers — the Navesink and Shrewsbury — and access to the Atlantic Ocean into a field station for study. The mayor said one project with local students is already underway. He spoke of what the collaboration means.

“[It holds] exciting promise for Rumson’s future scientists,” said Mayor John Eckdahl.

“This project is a sterling example of that kind of cooperation and the opportunity for the university to serve the surrounding community, in this case Rumson,” said Grey Dimenna, Monmouth University president.

The field station needs money to build laboratories and classrooms above the sewer pump station. It already has a ramp to accommodate the university’s boats — and an endless sea of opportunities for discovery for Monmouth’s School of Science and Urban Coast Institute.

It’s a classroom set in nature, and according to the university, it’s a timely one, as well.

“Superstorm Sandy left New Jersey residents painfully aware of just how tenuous a relationship with the shore can be. These past few weeks have reinforced that knowledge as Harvey and Irma and Jose and Maria remind us that resilience and sustainability of communities along the shore requires more than just hoping that another Sandy won’t strike again. Rather, it’ll be through scientific study of the ocean, the shore, the beach, the river, the estuaries, the plants, animals, fish and birds that live in this area that will provide guidance as to how to protect our shoreline. How to sustainably build along the banks and how to protect the lives of people living in these shore communities. Equally important is educating our citizenry and our children to be good stewards so that many future generations can enjoy this place, too,” said Dr. Steven Bachrach, the dean of the School of Science at Monmouth University.

Day has high hopes for what the education and research here could yield.

“To be useful, things that people learn have to be applied, I believe,” said Day.