Oceanside student Aleena Zeejah leads workshops to help marine life


Oceanside High School student, Aleena Zeejah is doing her part to help marine life and the environment. Zeejah has long been passionate about marine life and got the opportunity to run her library workshop last week where she presented ways to help save marine life and play some recycling-themed Bingo with young library patrons in grades five through eight.

The 15-year-old sophomore took an interest in the environment during her Earth Science class at Fulton Avenue School Eight where her teacher, Debra Herman inspired her to pursue the topic. She began working on a website when she realized during the pandemic that plastic pollution had become a huge problem in her backyard.

“I live by the water and during the summertime when the temperature outside gets hot, I’d see the plastic start to rise onto the water,” said Zeejah. “Swans and their babies would come every day to my backyard. My mom and I gave them names and they would stay in a little bay area but. they would eat the plastic. It was heartbreaking to see that. I decided I had to do something about it.”

Zeejah took a hiatus from working on her website but at the end of Zeejah’s freshman year, she logged back into her website and reached out to the teen librarian at Oceanside Library Gabriella Trinchetta, to help work on the site and she suggested she run a workshop based on saving marine life at the library.

“I feel like this is a very interesting topic and a very crucial topic for young kids to be learning about right now,” Zeejah said. “I went through my website, and I educated the kids on marine pollution, how I got started, and what we can do to help our environment. It’s not just on Long Island but all over the world.”

After her workshop, young students created posters promoting recycling and marine life, which will be placed in the teen section of the library. Zeejah has more in store when it comes to educating local students as she reached out to Oceanside Middle School to promote her workshop and the school offered her to do the same workshop with Oceanside middle school students.

“The principal asked me to come and do this workshop for the middle schoolers to teach them about taking initiative, being a leader and teaching them about the health and wellness of not only themselves, but also our community,” Zeejah said. “Ms. Herman said that she would like me to come into her classes and speak to the sixth graders too.”

Zeejah credited Herman as well as her High School World History teacher Jennifer Wolfe and High School English teacher Zoe Caponegro for inspiring her to pursue the workshop and hopes that she can create positive change through educating young minds.

“I moved to Oceanside when I was in kindergarten and ever since I moved to Oceanside, I’ve grown up next to the water and I’ve seen how much it changed from when I was five to now,” she said. “I have a very big passion for animals and you kind of feel empathetic because their homes are struggling. A lot of people who grow up landlocked don’t understand what is going on until they see it for themselves. I would like for more people to be educated on this topic because I feel like people don’t understand how much it impacts us.”