DEP SEEKS AMERICORPS WATERSHED AMBASSADORS FOR 2017
ANNUAL PROGRAM CULTIVATES NEW JERSEY’S FUTURE ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS
(16/P72) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is seeking 20 recruits for its 2017 class of AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors, a program that engages watershed communities with the shared goal of protecting and improving water quality.
“This long-term program helps identify New Jersey’s future environmental leaders and develops their stewardship for our resources,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “These leaders will be entrusted with the task of protecting New Jersey’s water quality environment through education and by empowering residents to make a difference in their communities through participation in partnership projects.”
Program coordinators are accepting applications through August 31, 2016. The state has 20 Watershed Management Areas where Ambassadors are placed with a host agency, which include watershed associations, soil conservation districts, sewerage authorities and county agencies.
Ambassadors work with all sectors of the public to improve the quality of New Jersey’s waterways, foster community-based environmental activities, and empower state residents to make responsible and informed decisions about their watersheds.
“What is impressive about the young people who participate in the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program is their willingness to pitch in and motivate the public to get involved in cleaning up their local waters,” said Pat Gardner, Director of the DEP’s Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, which oversees the program. “The efforts of these Watershed Ambassadors helps make the public more aware of how everyday actions impact clean water.”
The DEP began hosting the federal AmeriCorps program in 2000. AmeriCorps is a national service initiative that began in 1993 and is also known as the domestic Peace Corps.
Since its inception, more than 980,000 men and women have taken the AmeriCorps pledge, serving more than 1.3 billion hours and improving the lives of countless Americans. The organization recently announced grants for programs, nationwide, and it’s anticipated that the New Jersey’s Watershed Ambassadors Program will be awarded federal funding for 2017 in the coming weeks.
Ambassadors are required to complete 1,700 hours of service over 10 or 11 months. Compensation includes a pretax annual stipend of $12,530; eligibility for health insurance benefits while serving as an Ambassador; subsidized childcare, if qualified; deferment of qualified student loans during service; and extensive training throughout the program year. In addition, members are eligible to receive an education award of $5,730 upon successful completion of the program.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a bachelor’s degree, a valid driver’s license, and must have reliable transportation to get to and from field sites.
Recent Ambassadors graduated on July 7 during ceremonies at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association
Accomplishments by the 2016 class include:
- More than 18,000 participants/students received educational watershed demonstrations and public presentations;
- Prevention of 202 pounds of phosphorus from entering New Jersey waterways and collection/removal of more than 6 tons of debris during clean-up projects;
- Completion of more than 70 partnership projects, generating more than 13,000 volunteer hours;
- Completion of 584 visual and biological assessments;
- Training of 1,065 volunteers in the DEP’s visual and biological assessment protocols;
- Community cleanups of 31 miles of rivers and streams;
- Improvement of 80 acres of parks and public lands;
- Construction of 275 rain barrels through three workshops, preventing 385,000 gallons of rainwater from entering New Jersey’s stormwater systems;
- Participation as captains for Governor Christie’s Barnegat Bay Blitz initiative.
Watershed Ambassadors also played a key role in the DEP’s ongoing “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” campaign to cut down on illegal dumping on open state lands. Working with park superintendents, the Ambassadors involved hundreds of community volunteers, municipal employees, and students from across the state in removing trash from state parks and forests.
Through their partnerships, field work and thousands of presentations, Ambassadors promoted environmental stewardship through increased public awareness of pollution caused by litter and nonpoint source pollution while also reducing nutrient sources from reaching local waters in collaboration with the DEP to improve New Jersey’s environment.
Applications for the 2016-2017 program will be accepted until August 31, 2016 or until all positions are filled. Ambassadors serve watershed communities from host agencies located throughout New Jersey. Especially needed are good candidates to serve at the following host agencies: The County of Passaic Planning Department; the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission; the Hackensack Riverkeeper; the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center; the Pinelands Preservation Alliance; and Cape May County.
Those interested may apply online through the AmeriCorps website at:
New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program.
For more information, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bears/americorps.htm or call Kathy Giordano, Program Manager or Patricia Ingelido, Supervisor at (609) 633-1441. Written queries can be sent to:
New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program
Division of Water Monitoring and Standards
Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards
Mail Code: 401-03
401 E. State Street, P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
Phone: (609) 633-1441
Fax: (609) 984-6505