Rockland P.L.U.S. (Planning Land Use with Students) is a unique program that prepares and inspires youth to address the tremendous challenge of protecting our natural resources and providing for healthy, sustainable communities. Through the planning and design of sites that are actively being considered for redevelopment in their own communities, students take part in a meaningful and impactful educational experience that prepares and inspires them to make informed choices. The program is a collaborative partnership of Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Keep Rockland Beautiful, Rockland Conservation & Service Corps, and the Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Rockland PLUS Workshops
Every year, Rockland P.L.U.S. engages up to 300 students from 8 – 10 high schools throughout Rockland County in a series of hands-on classroom workshops from January through March. Students consider the health of the environment and the needs of their community as they plan for and map out their redevelopment project in a way that promotes a balance of Social Connections, Economic Opportunity and Environmental Sensitivity and Justice (S.E.E.). The students’ vision for redevelopment is incorporated into an illustrated poster for presentation at the program’s culminating symposium in late March.
The Rockland P.L.U.S. 2021 workshops were all successfully conducted virtually. Students utilized new interactive tools, such as Google Jam Boards and Google Earth, to build knowledge, share ideas, and creatively plan for more equitable, sustainable, climate smart communities.
Rockland P.L.U.S. Symposium
Rockland P.L.U.S. culminates with a symposium where, typically, 150 selected students from participating high schools come together to share their knowledge and ideas. It is a special opportunity for students to consider the perspectives of peers from schools across the county and begin to understand the unique needs and the common challenges of their communities.
At the symposium, student groups from each school deliver poster presentations on their redevelopment plan to a local professional volunteering as mentor for the day. Students then reconvene in mixed-school groups to collaboratively plan for the redevelopment of another county site.
While we were unable to gather together for a live symposium this year, each class participated in their own special symposium event with one to three mentors in the virtual room. After their local site presentation, students were introduced to the former Chair Factory in Haverstraw, and, together with their mentors, explored redevelopment ideas that supported the Village’s vision for a sustainable place to Work.Live.Shop. All the mentors and facilitators were very impressed with the students’ Google Earth presentations illustrating their redevelopment plans for their local site, as well as their ideas for creating an exciting destination in Haverstraw.
Rockland P.L.U.S. inspires students to explore exciting new possibilities in sustainable development and personal growth. Many students are moved to help protect the environment by becoming more engaged in school and community environmental programs. Rockland P.L.U.S. also exposes students to environmental related careers. Several students over the years have reported plans to pursue a degree in environmental studies and/or planning as a result of their participation in Rockland P.L.U.S. Regardless, all students become better informed consumers who know how to take action to create healthier, vibrant, equitable, sustainable communities – the kind of community they will want to live in!
Albertus Magnus High School Google Earth Presentations
2020 Illustrated Posters
While the 2020 Rockland P.L.U.S. Symposium had to be cancelled, all schools participating in the program were able to complete the three classroom workshops and students had begun developing their poster presentations. We are proud to share these posters from the students at Nyack and Albertus Magnus High Schools, which were undergoing final revisions when schools were closed. They illustrate the students’ thoughtful, fresh ideas for sustainable development that addresses the environmental, as well as social and economic needs of the local and wider community. Community planners take note!
Comments from previous symposiums
From a student:
“The culmination of the work we put in on ways to improve our own community is satisfying. Knowing you can do something in our own backyard is an exciting thought. I felt empowered as a student.”
From mentoring professionals:
“Real world experience that provokes thought beyond the obvious. This was a great event and am honored to have been invited.”
“It was the perfect example of giving and respecting youth voice in community matters. I felt it was designed to put a spotlight on how youth workers can shine a spotlight on the thinking and involvement of young people.”
“This is always the best community event I participate in. Great job.”
We are able to offer Rockland P.L.U.S for free to local high schools thanks to the following sponsors…