Search for Excellence in Environmental Quality, Forestry and Natural Resources

Pat Rector
County Environmental Resource Mgmt Agent
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Morris County

Rector, P.*1, Bakacs, M.*2, Rowe, A., Ph.D.*3, Cook-Menzel, A.*4
1 County Agent/Associate Professor, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Morristown, NJ, 07963
2 County Agent/Associate Professor, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, North Brunswick, NJ, 08092
3 CountyAgent/Associate Professor, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Wayne, NJ, 07470
4 Communications Specialist, Atlantic County Utilities Authority, Egg Harbor, NJ, 08234

Abstract

Although New Jersey is a small state it is the most densely populated state in the nation and this exacerbates most environmental problems.  Based on over 95 years of experience in agricultural extension, it was clear that a well-designed environment-based extension program could provide access to environmental knowledge to New Jersey residents. The program participants.  The Rutgers Environmental Steward Program provides grounding in environmentally related science and leadership for citizens interested in environmental issues without formal scientific education.  Graduates are knowledgeable in basic processes of earth, air, water and biological systems.  They will be aware of techniques and tools used to monitor and assess the health of the environment.  The class consists of 20 sessions of lectures followed by a 60-hour internship. Lecturers include experts from Rutgers University, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions and NJ Conservation Foundation.  The Program has been operating since 2005.  Since 2014 several new faculty are involved in the program, the program includes evening hours and urban areas to reach a greater diversity of residents. Implementation of the internship component of the program has been upgraded based on an in-depth evaluation and includes an on-line planning document, one class devoted to planning, and ready-made internships.  From 2014-2016the internship program has provided NJ with 6,543 volunteer hours valued at $154,153 and interns have conducted 37 projects from 2014-2016.  Ninety-five percent of Stewards feel the lecture series was very successful in increasing their environmental knowledge.  Impacts vary from recycling of 2,919 tons of food waste to creation of a “Roots and Shoots” NJ program that as of 2015 educated 111 children.  The in-depth evaluation allowed us to update our implementation of the 10-year old program.