NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — If you want to help protect the environment in your community, but you’re not sure where to start, then now is the time to join the Rutgers Environmental Steward Volunteer Program. The program teaches volunteers how to tackle important environmental issues and use what is learned to make a difference. You don’t need a science background—anyone can join the program.
Rutgers Environmental Stewards (RES) attend weekly classes on topics such as climate change, green infrastructure, environmental justice and wildlife habitat. Each class is taught by a leading researcher from Rutgers University, a government agency or the non-profit sector. The 2022 class will run from January 25 through May 17 on Tuesdays, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. This year’s class will be a hybrid of zoom sessions, in-person instruction, field trips, and on-demand electives.
“Coming from a corporate technology career, I had passion but no clue where to put it,” commented Janine Salvador, who was a member of the RES Class of 2018. “The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program empowered me to take my first steps in service of the environment. The program gave me the broad, sound, scientific base to better understand the challenges we face and where I can make a difference.”
Participants complete a 60-hour volunteer internship within their community to become certified Rutgers Environmental Stewards. “We’ve trained over 900 volunteers since the start of the program in 2005, many of whom are still making an impact within their communities,” said Michele Bakacs, county agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Examples of recent projects are:
- George and Helen assisted with a forest restoration project in Princeton. Their work included clearing invasive plants and planting native trees and woodland plants at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve.
- Lois started the state’s first Adopt-A-Storm Drain program in Westfield. During the pandemic, residents could do their part while at home to prevent pollution. Lois’ project prevented 528 pounds of material from the storm drain system, thereby helping improve water quality in Rahway River.
- Rosann, John and Megan made 1000 native bee home kits out of bamboo and included how-to guides which were distributed throughout Burlington, Mercer, and Ocean counties.
- Katherine organized and managed a symposium in Columbus for 50 municipal leaders to learn more about planning and zoning impacts on the environment.
- The internship project helps Stewards get real-world experience and build relationships by working on local environmental problems. At the end of the class, the volunteer achievements are celebrated at an annual Impact Summit.
To learn more or to register visit https://envirostewards.rutgers.edu.
The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program is a volunteer program offered in New Jersey through Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJ Agriculture Experiment Station (NJAES), and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in cooperation with individual county governments. The program is designed to increase the availability of university-based information to local communities and individuals through trained adult volunteers known as Rutgers Environmental Stewards.