Registration is open for the 2019 Rutgers Environmental Stewards program – a great gift for your family’s environmentalist or…a great way to back up your New Year’s “Green” resolution.
Since 2005, hundreds of volunteers have made the commitment to protecting New Jersey’s environment by participating in the Rutgers Environmental Stewards Program. Offered by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the program introduces non-scientists to the science underlying key environmental issues in the Garden State so they can tackle problems in their own communities. In January and February 2019, depending on which program you take, participants can enroll in a program in one of four New Jersey counties: Atlantic, Essex, Middlesex and Somerset. Participants do not have to be county residents to participate in the program, which costs $250 for the 20 weeks of training.
If you have a passion for the environment, a desire to learn and volunteer in your community then this program is for you! Stewards start out in the classroom once a week, dealing with topics that include climate change, soil health, energy conservation, water resource protection, invasive species management, land use policy, wildlife ecology, protecting pollinators and native vs invasive species, among others. Optional field trips to environmentally significant sites around the state are included as part of the program. Leading researchers from Rutgers are joined by government and non-profit representatives to share their knowledge with the stewards.
In order to become certified, graduates must complete a 60-hour volunteer internship of their choosing. Internships are unique and intended to align with the passion of the individual, the needs of the program and those of the local community. Some previous Steward internship projects have included monitoring shorebird populations, composting restaurant food waste, mapping and eradicating invasive species in local parks, restoring native dune vegetation in shore communities and creating rain gardens.
The classes, field trips and internship do not replace a science degree. However, the program presents stewards with real-world environmental problems and introduces a network of experts and organizations that can help participants as they wrestle with solving problems in their local communities. For more information, visit http://envirostewards.rutgers.edu.