RAHWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Some New Jersey students spent their summer training to be environmentalists, and as their program comes to a close, they got an up-close look at how garbage can be used for energy.

He may just be 13 years old, but Khyan Adams is discovering a career he never thought he could one day have.

“The coolest thing is how they burn everything and how big the fire is, and that they never have any accidents. Like, it’s perfect here,” he said.

Adams and 30 of his peers got a tour of the Covanta Union Waste Management Facility in Rahway, New Jersey. They’re all part of the Team Leadership Camp at the Boys & Girls Club of Union and Elizabeth.

They spent their summer learning firsthand about green jobs, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports.

“I didn’t want to just sit in the house. I wanted to go out and explore the world and, like, get more opportunities of what I can do,” Adams said.

The 22-acre facility processes about 1,500 tons of solid waste each day, turning it into reusable energy that powers 30,000 homes and businesses in the area. The kids learned quickly what that means for them.

“It’s cool because we get to use this for, like, everyday things, like watching TV or playing video games or just, like, plugging in, like, toasters,” 11-year-old Reiley Prempeh said.

The visit to the facility also gave them a glimpse of what could be their future.

“Not everyone understands what this is about, but they’re getting a great education today,” Russell Triolo, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Union and Elizabeth, said. “This is where you learn it. This is where you really get a feel for the career you might be interested in.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental specialist careers are expected to grow faster than average at 11% through 2026. Covanta Union’s community engagement manager, Brie Parker, is hoping the kids take interest.

“Really, what we are looking to do here is, if we can ignite a spark in one mind, then we’re protecting tomorrow,” she said.

Hopefully, a tour of a waste management facility will inspire young minds for a cleaner future.

To learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Union and Elizabeth, click here.


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