Eagle Scout candidate invents recycle station for Macopin Middle

Young environmentalist hopes project will inspire others to protect nature

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  • Part ofLucas' own design for recycling station.

  • Photo providedFrom left, Eagle Scout Aiden Harrington of Hewitt helps Lucas Zemser, right, with a fundraiser for his project.

By Ginny Privitar

— Boy Scout Lucas Zemser has a passion for protecting the environment.

That passion was born out of an appreciation for the natural beauty of Upper Greenwood Lake. He is turning that passion into action.

"I've always admired the beauty of nature that surrounds us," Zemser said in a recent interview. "I live on the lake and I see so many things that people in urban areas don't get to see. I want to keep nature intact and want other generations to see and experience it the same way I did."

Young Zemser is upset when he sees roadside trash that people throw out of car windows.

"I don't understand that," he said. "Litter is a major problem. I would never do that."

Zemser is such a proponent of recycling that he has decided to help Macopin Middle School make it easier to recycle with a new station he designed and use the project in his efforts to earn the Eagle Scout honor.

He hopes to educate and inspire others on the importance of recycling. Zemser is also president of the West Milford High School Green Team Environmental Club.

His dad, Howie Zemser, was formerly on the Lake Association Board and his job was making sure the water quality was good. He also educated people on the dangers of run-off from pesticides. His parents, Monica and Howie Zemser, helped build their son's commitment to the environment.

Lucas Zemser is a candidate for Eagle Scout in Troop 146/151, and is required to do a service project to earn the title. He chose the ambitious project to build a recycling center for Macopin Middle School's cafeteria that he conceived of when visiting colleges and seeing the recycling centers in their cafeterias.

But, he needs the public's help raising funds for the project, which will be a large, eight-foot cabinet that will look more like furniture and will enclose the bins.

Previously, the school had exposed, freestanding bins for waste and recycling and sometimes there was confusion about what went where.

Lucas consulted with Macopin's principal, Marc Citro, the custodians at Macopin, the Boy Scout Council, Scoutmasters and his Troop 146/151 and they all approved of the idea.

He also spoke with Dave Stires, the recycling coordinator for the Township of West Milford.

"[Lucas] is a great leader. Always willing to do what it takes to succeed," said Robert Ruth, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 146/151, and former Scoutmaster of Troop 146, who advised Lucas.

Lucas made an initial sketch, but then made extensive revisions to accommodate the space and the need to use the 55-gallon trash bins standard for the school district.

There was a lot of engineering in the new plan. The station will feature enclosed receptacles for separating recyclables and waste. It is designed so the bins can roll easily back in to a U-shaped cutout after emptying.

The project involves a lot of wood, heavy duty casters, stainless steel rings to support the bins and Lucite for built-in window boxes that will display the items to go into each bin and may feature educational displays on the benefits of recycling and reducing waste.

One of those benefits is reducing trash in landfills and saving the cost of having trash hauled away. The township actually earns considerable income by selling recyclables.

Some material has already been purchased and construction has begun on the project.

"It has been pleasure working with Lucas over the past two years designing and brainstorming to come up with the ultimate recycling container center," said Damian C. Fitzpatrick, assistant head custodian of the West Milford School District.

"I know that the finished product will be one of a kind and not just aesthetically pleasing for the middle school, but a huge leap forward for the middle school recycling program.

"In my eighteen years with the West Milford Board of Education, I have seen many Eagle Scouts donate their time and money to better our school buildings and this project should be considered to be right at the top."

Glenn Morris, a former Scoutmaster and skilled carpenter, is assisting Lucas and other Scouts will help with assembly and painting.

When the recycling cabinet is built, it will become the school's property and the students will become the stewards.

"I hope to forge a model program for other schools in the district and beyond to follow,” Lucas said.

He's seeking donations and has set up a "GoFundMe" page, which has more details about the project. He can be reached at lzemser@gmail.com and donations made at https://www.gofundme.com/eagle-scout-projectrecycle-station.

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Community Newspapers


Ann R. Benedict
  • Feb 18, 2019


West Milford, NJ