If you want to protect the environment and make a difference in your local community, but aren’t sure where to begin, then now is a good time to join the Rutgers Environmental Steward Volunteer Program. This program is open to all, regardless of previous training or experience. It teaches participants how they can tackle important environmental issues and make positive changes locally.
Weekly classes are held for Stewards on a variety of topics, including climate change, green infrastructure and environmental justice, as well as wildlife habitat. Each class is taught either by a Rutgers University researcher or a non-profit sector professional. From January 25 to May 17, the 2022 class will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays. This year’s class will include Zoom sessions, in person instruction, field trips, and electives on-demand.
To become a Rutgers Environmental Steward, participants must complete a volunteer internship in their community.
Here are some examples of recent projects.
- A group of stewards supported the implementation of a recycling inspection program and education program in several Atlantic County neighborhoods. This led to significant reductions of contamination and improved quality material.
- Lois founded the first Adopt A Storm Drain Program in the state. Residents could help prevent pollution from their homes during the pandemic. Lois’s project saved 528 pounds of material that was being dumped into storm drains, which helped improve the water quality in her community.
- Megan, John, and Rosann created 1,000 native bee-friendly kits from bamboo. They also included how to guides that were distributed in three NJ counties.
- Jinny organized and hosted a symposium on climate change in Cape May. This brought together experts from Alabama and scientists from all over the country to share important information with coastal residents.
Internships give stewards real-world experience and help to build relationships through local environmental issues. Since 2005, more than 900 volunteers have been trained to help stewards make an impact in their communities.
This program is a great way for us to get informed about issues that affect us directly. Participants not only learn about the science behind the issues but also have access to a network of experts that can help them solve problems in their communities. Amy Menzel, regional coordinator of the RES program for Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean Counties, says that participants will also be able to tap into a network and get assistance from resources. Stewards are people from all walks and backgrounds, with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. But they instantly become part of a growing network of individuals who are eager to learn more and make a difference. Each class is unique, but they all attract smart, curious, and passionate people.
The Rutgers Environmental Stewards Program is offered in New Jersey by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and NJ Agriculture Experiment Station. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey works with individual county governments and entities like the Atlantic County Utilities Authority which has hosted this program since 2008.
Register to learn more and register https://envirostewards.rutgers.edu/