No sooner had Lindsey Van Zile graduated from Toms River High School South than she had another major ceremony to attend—the ribbon cutting of the Bayscape for Barnegat Bay coastal native plant garden adjacent to the waterfront she created in support of the American Littoral Society’s program to reduce non-point source pollution running into Barnegat Bay.

Lindsey applied for and received a grant from Sustainable Jersey to create a garden in Pocket Park at the end of Motor Road, Pine Beach, with the help of Pine Beach council member Susan Coletti. The garden site is close to the Pine Beach waterfront and was once overgrown with weeds. With assistance from a local Master Gardener and the American Littoral Society, Lindsey restored the area and brought it back to health. This is the first official municipal Bayscape for Barnegat Bay native plant garden. The garden was planted in May 2013 and the many native species are now beginning to fill in and bloom.

In addition to Lindsey, the ribbon cutting was also attended by Councilwoman Susan Coletti from Pine Beach Borough, Helen Henderson of the American Littoral Society, and the press.

When asked about her choice to restore Pocket Park with a Bayscape Garden, she replied, "I have lived in Pine Beach my whole life and I wanted to do something memorable for my community. Years ago, Pocket Park was maintained by a dedicated member of the community but, after she passed, the area became overgrown with weeds. After passing the area every day, I realized that I could transform this area into something that the whole community can enjoy! Pocket Park is now a great place to relax and enjoy nature and observe the wildlife that the native plants attract." She added, “Plus it’s helping the Bay!”

Helen Henderson, Atlantic Coast Program Manager for the Society said she was thrilled to have another Bayscape garden implemented. “We started this program to empower individuals, municipalities, businesses and others so that they could plant native gardens of their own. These gardens help lessen the pollution in the water quality runoff entering Barnegat Bay by not requiring fertilizers and pesticides. The gardens also do not need a lot of watering once established and they create habitat for birds, bees and butterflies”, she stated. “When someone like Lindsey and the Borough of Pine Beach take this initiative we have definitely succeeded. This garden will educate those that visit it and encourage them to bayscape if they wish to become better stewards of the Bay,” she concluded.

At the event, Henderson presented Lindsey with an award from the American Littoral Society recognizing her contributions to the restoration of Barnegat Bay. The Society also recognized Pine Beach Borough for being the first municipality to host an official Bayscape for Barnegat Bay native plant garden on its grounds.

Van Zile has a passion for protecting the environment and has taken a leadership role in her community, leading beach cleanups, recycling programs, and restoring habitat for local wildlife. Because of this work, this spring she was nominated by the American Littoral Society and subsequently named a Youth Guardian of Barnegat Bay by the Barnegat Bay Partnership (a national estuary program) and received the Garden State Green Award for an Individual Student sponsored by Keane University and the Star-Ledger. In the fall she is bound for Lynchburg College where she plans to major in environmental studies.

To learn more about the Bayscape for Barnegat Bay program, click here

Read article in the Asbury Park Press