FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2020
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 292-2994
(20/P008) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is celebrating 20 years of accomplishments by the state’s AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program with initiatives during national AmeriCorps Week that will reinforce to students and residents the importance of protecting water quality, Commissioner Catherine R McCabe announced.
The events scheduled Sunday, March 8 through Saturday, March 14 will bring together current AmeriCorps members and alumni to share with a new generation of volunteers their commitment to environmental stewardship.
“Protecting New Jersey’s water is a core priority for the DEP,” Commissioner McCabe said. “Maintaining clean water is essential to public health, our economy and quality of life. We appreciate and applaud our AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors for their hard work and significant contributions to helping us advance our water quality goals.”
“AmeriCorps Week is an opportunity to highlight the ways in which the work of the Watershed Ambassadors has transformed lives and communities,” Assistant Commissioner for Water Resource Management Michele Putnam said. “Through their promotion of environmental education and stewardship efforts in New Jersey’s communities, the Ambassadors seek to inspire all whom they encounter to protect water quality for future generations.”
The DEP’s AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program, now in its 20th year, focuses primarily on promoting environmental stewardship and education to raise awareness about water quality and watershed issues.
The program connects Watershed Ambassadors with partners in each of New Jersey’s 20 watershed management areas to implement green infrastructure projects such as rain gardens, rain barrel workshops and tree plantings that reduce stormwater runoff and the pollutants that stormwater runoff transports. They also conduct stream assessments, which include macroinvertebrate sampling on waterways in each of the state’s Wildlife Management Areas around the state to monitor stream health.
“It is exciting to see Ambassadors bring new stewardship activities to their communities, like conducting microplastic surveys at our beaches,” said Amanda Lotto, DEP AmeriCorps Program Manager. “Watershed Ambassadors are at the forefront of emerging environmental concerns and continually engage with their local green teams, environmental commissions, and interested organizations, working to address their interests and concerns to get things done.”
Since 2000, nearly 400 Watershed Ambassadors have engaged more than 408,000 New Jersey volunteers in stewardship projects and environmental education.
During AmeriCorps Week, Ambassadors will participate in or facilitate statewide events promoting environmental stewardship and water quality awareness, including:
Created in 1993, AmeriCorps is a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which engages more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year.
Watershed Ambassadors serve full time, completing 1,700 hours of service over 10 months. Members graduate from the program with experience they can use to launch their career.
“The experiences I gained through the program allowed me to take the next step in my career and begin working at the DEP’s Division of Air Quality,” said Connor Milligan, who served as the Ambassador for the Lower Delaware watershed in 2018. “I strongly recommend this program to anyone looking for a start in the environmental field, as it opens so many new opportunities and builds both professional and personal relationships.”
For an AmeriCorps Week events calendar, including which activities are open to the public, and to learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bears/americorps_week.htm.
Follow the AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJWAP/
Follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.