DEP SEEKS RECRUITS FOR 2018-2019 AMERICORPS WATERSHED
AMBASSADORS CLASS TO CULTIVATE FUTURE ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS
(18/P065) TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is seeking 20 recruits for its 2018-2019 class of AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors, a program that engages communities to protect and improve water quality, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today.
Watershed Ambassadors are the DEP’s facilitators in the field, collecting water quality information, giving presentations on clean water and championing partnership projects in which the public help make a difference in their communities.
“The AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program benefits the public in multiple ways, from training our future environmental leaders to educating communities about how to protect their water quality,” Commissioner McCabe said. “These efforts engage many in the critical work of environmental protection and stewardship, adding to our overall quality of life.”
Applications for the 2018-2019 class will be accepted through Friday, Aug. 31 or until all positions are filled. The state has 20 watershed management areas where ambassadors are placed with a host agency, which include watershed associations, soil conservation districts, municipal utilities 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 conduct and how it affects their local waterbodies and larger watersheds.
“AmeriCorps members come to us in September and graduate from the program in July,” Division of Water Monitoring and Standards Director Bruce Friedman said. “Throughout their 10 months of service, it’s remarkable to see all that they accomplish, engaging with New Jersey’s communities and providing stewardship opportunities. As the program approaches its 19th year, the ambassadors continue to establish strong partnerships within the environmental community. These relationships strengthen our communities and the ambassadors’ experience often leads to job opportunities after graduation.”
Through their partnerships, field work and thousands of presentations, ambassadors improve New Jersey communities by engaging citizens in science, stewardship and education. Members increase public awareness about the impact of litter and nonpoint source pollution on water quality, as well as the need to reduce nutrient sources such as fertilizers from reaching local waters.
This year, Ambassadors worked together with The Nature Conservancy to form a legacy partnership project focused on a regional tree planting project known as “Green the Scene 2018!” Their efforts aimed to restore floodplain areas throughout the state.
Through local partnerships with several county and municipal partners, locations in Hackettstown (Warren County), Kingwood, Flemington, Annandale and Pittstown (Hunterdon County), Pequannock and Parsippany (Morris County), Lacey (Ocean County), and Vineland (Cumberland County) received 3,800 trees and shrubs during April and May. These efforts resulted in the Ambassadors Program being honored at the 2018 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for service to the public.
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.
Ambassadors are required to complete 1,700 hours of service over 10 or 11 months. Compensation includes a pretax annual stipend of $13,732; 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 $5,920 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.
In addition to the “Green the Scene” Public Service award, accomplishments and notable projects by the 2017-2018 Ambassadors include:
- More than 1,000 participants/students received educational watershed demonstrations and public presentations on environmental stewardship;
- Cleanups removed more than eight tons of garbage and recyclables from New Jersey waterways;
- Completion of more than 550 visual and biological stream assessments;
- Improvement to more than 100 acres of parks and public lands;
- Installation of an “energy playground” themed exhibit at Princeton Parklet, which teaches the public about renewable energy and water conservation;
- Construction of a bioswale at Olsen Middle School in Tabernacle, Burlington County, which enlisted student help to design, choose native species, and plant;
- A scuba club underwater cleanup in Bayville, Ocean County, in which open-water certified scuba divers volunteered to remove underwater debris from Cedar Creek;
- Dune grass planting at Island Beach State Park, where 300 volunteers helped restore dunes by planting more than 30,000 plants;
- A Camden tree planting partnership with PowerCorps, in which 60 volunteers planted 20 trees to restore the floodplain and appearance at Gateway Park;
- An invasive species seminar and plant swap where participants learned about invasive plant species and were invited to bring an invasive plant from their yard to swap with a native plant alternative;
- A cleanup in partnership with the Musconetcong Watershed Association, where more than 400 volunteers removed more than 130 bags of trash from 42 miles of public land.
Ambassadors serve watershed communities from host agencies throughout New Jersey. Candidates are particularly needed to serve at 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 to the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program through the national AmeriCorps site.
For more information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bears/americorps.htm or call Program Manager Amanda Lotto or Supervisor Patricia Ingelido at (609) 633-1441.
Send written queries via email to NJWAP@dep.nj.gov or mail them 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