TRENTON, N.J. - More than 100 special needs students, school staff and dignitaries today gathered at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) for the Special Eyes on the Environment (S.E.E.) 10th Annual State Capitol Environmental Photography Exhibit and Gala Opening.

“This exhibit reminds us to appreciate the beauty and delicacy of New Jersey,” said Susan Bass Levin, Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and HMFA Chair.  “I commend these remarkable young photographers for overcoming the challenges in their lives to help others realize the majesty of our environment. We are honored to share this day with such talented students, and I thank them all for their dedication and hard work.”

S.E.E. provides an opportunity for students with special needs to develop an awareness of the environment, while overcoming their disabilities and improving their self-esteem. The students use black and white photography to capture their vision of nature’s beauty and depict the damage humans can do to the environment.

“HMFA looks forward to proudly showcasing the outstanding work of these young photographers each year,” HMFA Executive Director Marge DellaVecchia said. “The powerful photography attests to each student's unique talent and insight.”

Each year, the gala provides statewide exposure for the students’ work in an effort to increase public awareness of the impact we make on the environment. Six New Jersey schools participated in this year’s gala opening: CPC Behavioral Healthcare/High Point Schools in Morganville, Lakeview School in Edison, Lord Stirling School in Basking Ridge, Rock Brook School in Skillman, and Grant and River Elementary Schools in Trenton.

The S.E.E. program has become a vital part of several special education schools through New Jersey and is embraced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as one of the leading educational vehicles for statewide watershed protection.  In 2002, S.E.E. expanded to include after-school youth programs in Elizabeth and youth-at-risk programs in Trenton.

The students’ photography will remain on display through early June at the Gallery at HMFA, the Mary Roebling Building Lobby and the Richard Hughes Justice Complex.

For more information about the Special Eyes on the Environment program, contact Ross Lewis, President and Founder, at 732-828-2225.

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), a DCA affiliate agency, is dedicated to increasing the availability of and accessibility to safe, decent and affordable housing to families in New Jersey. For information on HMFA consumer mortgage programs, call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE. Speech or hearing impaired individuals may call the TTY hotline at 1-877-325-6524.