(Fight Urban Runoff)
Holy Cross School New Orleans, LA
PROJECT F.U.R. (Fight Urban Runoff) is an ongoing environmental service project of students at Holy Cross School since 1990. PROJECT F.U.R. raises public awareness about a used oil recycling program that benefits the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and the nation through energy conservation and the reduction of hazardous waste. If used motor oil is not recycled and is discarded improperly, it can present a serious hazard to our environment. Parish recycling centers, service stations and quick-change oil franchises are serving as collection centers. The oil collected at these sites is reprocessed and prepared for future marketing. With the donation of a “Crusher 1” used motor oil filter compactor, PROJECT F.U.R. members are able to collect used motor oil filters and recycle them. Thus, the filter and the used oil inside are reclaimed and recycled, preventing them from posing a hazard to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin ecosystem.
PROJECT F.U.R.’s speaker program focuses public attention on urban runoff and its
effects on Lake Pontchartrain. Flyers and brochures explain what residents can do to help stem this toxic tide. Knowledge without action is sterile. Other civic action projects by PROJECT F.U.R. include the “STENCIL - A - CANAL” project. A network of high school students and teachers joins forces with civic organizations and local residents to stencil the logo “Dump No WasteDrains to Lake” on storm drain covers throughout the area. This serves to remind residents that hazardous materials dumped in storm drains have a negative impact on the Lake Pontchartrain ecosystem. PROJECT F.U.R. conducts water quality testing in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin at several sites. Data is collected and evaluated for evidence of a decrease in runoff pollutants, allowing PROJECT F.U.R. students to fully participate in the scientific process. In addition, weekly water testing of the Industrial Canal is contributing to a comparative research of drainage canals in New Orleans, currently under assessment by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.
“Wetlands Ecology: A Service-Learning Project” is the latest phase of PROJECT F.U.R.
Student team leaders learn wetlands ecology firsthand by participating in field camps at selected wetlands sites and participate in volunteer projects to restore wetlands. They serve as peer instructors to other students in environmental science classes on a series of field trips. A healthy lake is a major recreational and economic asset to New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. Achieving that goal through public education and civic action is the intent of PROJECT F.U.R. The dimensions of the challenge are enormous, but with its efforts supported by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, PROJECT F.U.R. has been very successful. While rendering significant service to the community, these students are experiencing the scientific, social, and political components of environmental issues.
For their efforts, PROJECT F.U.R. has been the subject of magazine and television coverage and has won local, state, and national awards, including the President’s Environmental Youth Award for EPA Region 6.