Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

2008 Certified Rutgers Environmental Stewards


Certified Rutgers Environmental Steward
Intern Projects and Impacts - 2008

The following projects were completed in fulfillment of the internship requirement of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program. Graduates of the 60 hour lecture portion of the program are required to complete an approved intern project of 60 hours or more to become Certified Rutgers Environmental Stewards.

Duke Class of 2006

Louise Wilkins           Hillsborough, NJ
Surveyed every drainage basin in Hillsborough evaluating them for suitability for conversion to bio-retention basins in consultation with the Director of Public Works. Factors such as vegetative cover, current use were used to prioritize properties for a lower management, more bio-friendly management scheme.  6 properties were selected to changes in management regime located at Francis Drive, Prall Road, Updike Avenue, Valis Road, and 2 basins on the corners of Amwell Road and Westcott Road. Additionally, a basin at Faith Lutheran Church will be completely rebuilt as a naturalized, environmentally effective basin. It is at the corner of Beekman Lane and South Branch Road.  Its location, across from the Municipal Building, will enable it to be used as a model for builders to see. It is estimated that an annual savings in maintenance costs of over $6,000 per year will be realized by the town as a result of the conversion of these structures to native plant vegetated, bio-retention basins.
 In the process Louise conducted on-site research and observations to address anticipated objections to the change of management regime. She observed that mown basins had more annoying insects around them than the natural vegetation retention basins. She also observed that vegetation most often prevents drains from becoming clogged rather than the reverse. She shared these observations with fellow members of the Hillsborough Environmental Commission and convinced them sufficiently that they recommended that all future projects in the township be designed at the proposal stage with naturally vegetated detention basins.

Duke Class of 2007

Stephen Carroll  Chatham, NJ
Interning for the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), he used his experience to develop a new workshop “Municipal Energy Audits and Emissions Inventories” which was run on April 28, 2008. He also maintained the Sustainable Communities section of the ANJEC website, , gathering news articles and other information on tools, case studies, and new solutions from around the world while also removing outdated content from the site.  His work was cited by Sandy Batty, Executive Director of ANJEC as an, “Steve made an enormous contribution to ANJEC and the 300 plus environmental commissions we serve statewide.”  She added, We feel extremely fortunate that he chose ANJEC for his internship.”

Mary Anne Finch       Mantoloking, NJ
proposed, researched, designed, planned, implemented/ installed, maintained, documented, and supervised the creation of three borough Native Display Gardens in the Borough of Mantoloking, New Jersey, using a “Clean Communities” Grant to fund the project.  This grant is funded by the N.J. State Department of Environmental Protection from tax levied on the sale of litter generating products.  Mary Anne accomplished her goal by developing a collaborative working environment with the Mantoloking Borough Officials, Mantoloking Environmental Commission, Mantoloking Borough Beautification Committee, Mantoloking Beach Association, Seaweeders Garden Club of Bay Head and Mantoloking, ead & Mantoloking  and Save Barnegat Bay Association.

A need existed to educate Mantoloking’s residents of the benefits of using indigenous native species by creating native display gardens in high-traffic areas of the town. There are no display gardens of this kind in this area or in surrounding towns.  The garden locations are on the main street of town, Downer Avenue, across the street from Mantoloking Borough Hall and next to Mantoloking US Post Office and the municipal parking lot; Downer Avenue ocean beach access; and Albertson Street ocean beach access near Route 35.

Encouragement of using these drought tolerant plants in home gardens helps to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, to help erosion control of the dunes and to reduce run-off.

Mantoloking Councilman Donald Ness said of the project, “This new and original type project for a seashore town is not only educational but provides a significant environmental contribution…we now have a “living example” of the use of indigenous species…the entire town wishes to thank Mary Anne Finch.”

Claire Liptak  Hillsborough, NJ
worked at the Lockatong Preserve beginning in June 2007. This 70 acre property on Raven Rock Rd. in Delaware Township was formerly farmland and is now owned by the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance. It adjoins the county-owned Wescott Preserve. Lockatong includes a small parking area, a meadow, a steeply sloped wooded area, a flood plain and a path along Lockatong Creek.

Claire pursued additional invasive species training including the Plant Stewardship Index (PSI) course, the 2007 Invasive Weed Conference in Philadelphia, and a GPS workshop in Virginia, both sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council.  She helped helped long-time volunteer, Joyce Koch, map the invasive plants near the path, using GPS coordinates.

Claire then developed a database of native and invasive plants found at the preserve. This information will be the basis for future volunteer efforts. The propagation information included will help volunteers grow native herbaceous plants to replace invasives that are removed. Native plants may also be sold to raise funds to support management efforts. Volunteers will primarily use the mechanical or physical methods listed in the database to reduce the population and spread of invasives.

After her internship she intends to train volunteers to manage the weeds,  explaining why invasive weeds are a problem, how they take over an area, weed identification, and the best mechanical /physical ways to remove them or, at least, to limit their spread.  We will experiment with biological control by cutting multiflora rose canes infested with the rose rosette virus and eriophyiid mites and placing the canes in healthy plants.. If pesticides are to be used, I will train the volunteers under my supervision to attain the appropriate level of pesticide applicator certification.

Irene  Sabin    Flemington, NJ
Managed a portfolio of 6 grant projects in Readington Township funded by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), including tracking deadlines, setting priorities, acquiring plant materials and keeping the project within budget. She also became a key team member in the highest priority project of the six which involved the restoration of the Pleasant Run stream corridor. In over 100 hours of effort she researched and recommended plant species, coordinated purchase and delivery, led the conduct of 50 volunteers in a planting day, drafted press releases and submitted documentation for payment. The project was a huge success and hailed as a model by the township and the NRCS. She continues to assist the township and has been appointed to the township Open Space Advisory Board.  As a result of Irene’s contributions Deputy Mayor Julia Allen stated, “The Rutgers Environmental Steward Program is a wonderful source of talent for the environment of our state.” Open Space Committee member John Klotz said, “Irene’s knowledge of environmental issues and plant species was invaluable to the effort.”

Irene has also been a founding member of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards Alumni Association, coordinating tracking of internships and alumni activities.

Florence Swanstrom  Watchung, NJ
Assisted Rutgers faculty members Anthony Broccoli and Jennifer Francis in staging a very successful symposium titled,  “The Climate Ahead: Impacts of Climate Change On Water Resources, which was held on April 15, 2008 and attracted 200 participants. Florence identified organizations and people to be invited, identified potential speakers,  created and updated a database of regional stakeholders to be used for the symposium and beyond. An evaluation of the symposium by participants rated satisfaction with content 4.24 and satisfaction with format 4.16 on a scale of 5, 5 being best. 100%  indicated that they intended to apply the knowledge gained at the symposium.

Thomas Southard       Annandale, NJ
Provided leadership and guidance to Hunterdon Central Regional High School Students for Environmental Alliance(SEA) club to reclaim a pond on campus and to qualify the campus as River Friendly under the South Branch Watershed Association (SBWA) and Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Associations’ River Friendly Business Program.

He assisted the students in developing a preliminary and, eventually, final plan that was presented to and approved by the Principal and School Superintendent.
The River Friendly Program consists of 4 categories in the certification program.

Water Quality Management: Restore and manage changes on 2 streams and a pond on the HCRHS campus that ultimately flow into the South Branch.
Water Resource Conservation Techniques: improve irrigation techniques, change planting to reduce water use, install water gardens near hard surface runoff areas and assess internal plumbing while becoming more “water conscious”.
Wildlife and Habitat Enhancement: Create naturalized areas and providing habitat for beneficial species.
Education and OutreachRecognize and support beneficial environmental practices that the students and school have implemented and transfer that information to the community. Increase student and parent understanding of the actions the SEA and School and encourage implementation of a River Friendly Residential program at home.
The HCRHS River Friendly certification continues for the 2008-2009 school year. Ellen Cronan, Watershed Project Manager with the South Branch Watershed Association said, “Tom has been a tremendous asset to the SBWA organization and we look forward to his continued assistance as a SBWA volunteer.”


Essex Class of 2007

Sue Barbuto   Franklin Lakes, NJ
She became active in public debate over the preservation or development of a 10 acre farm in her town, Franklin Lakes. She engaged in a 2+ year process to promote open discussion and rational consideration of data pertinent to the land use decision. Sue worked through a somewhat hostile relationship with the existing mayor, using education and publicity to inform public opinion on the issue. At least partly as a result of her efforts, subsequent elections yielded new “pro-environment” township committee members and a new, more sympathetic Mayor. Ultimately the tract of land in question was developed after being granted steep slope variances, but the town appointed its first Environmental Commission in 20 years and the new Mayor made positive changes to the membership of the Planning Board and changed the town’s engineering firm.
The Environmental Commission is off and running with an 50% ANJEC Grant to do a town wide Environmental Resource Inventory. The last inventory was done many years ago.  It is planned that the new one will focus on water resources since we ARE Franklin Lakes, and have several environmental issues related to water: dams, lakes, wetlands, drinking water, etc.   The EC has also begun to work on many other issues like recycling, rain gardens, geese control and town-wide education of environmental issues.


EcoComplex Class of 2007


Pat Bogue       Southhampton, NJ
Joan Johnson  Lumberton, NJ
Coordinated and aided in the development of the Rancocas Nature Center/NJ Audubon Society Native Plant Sale. Educated the public as to the importance of using native plants. Native plants are beneficial to the native wildlife, providing food and shelter. Native plants developed in their specific ecosystem and are the best choice as to requiring little or no maintenance with regard to water and pesticides. 70 people purchased a total of 273 native plants which raised $2,000 to aid the center.

Joan researched native plants of New Jersey, concentrating on those of the Pinelands and surrounding areas and finalized a plant list, created a purchase form for our sale of the selected perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and trees including description, wildlife/beneficial insect support and planting information, compiled a list of prospective buyers, and contacted them and assisted in the conduct of the sale.

Pat prepared a native butterfly data base specific to the New Jersey Pinelands with common and scientific names of butterflies, their nectar and host plants. She populated this database with photo files of butterflies common to the nature preserve and the host plants associated with each.  The collection consists of two sections, butterfly and host plants of open spaces and butterfly and host plants of woodland spaces and is over 50 MB in size.

The photo files will be used to prepare a nature sign to educate the public as to the importance of the delicate eco-balance between butterflies and the native plants required to complete their complex life cycle. The caterpillars feed on the plants they evolved with, pupate and emerge into the butterflies we enjoy. These butterflies also feed on the nectar of native plants. Over 20,000 people visit the park annually. It is intended that with this sign people will create understanding of the importance of using native plants to attract butterflies and other wildlife.

Their supervisor at NJ Audubon, Mary Belko, said, “Without their help there would not have been a sale.”

Bill Curzie       Delran, NJ
Lead the formation of the Rutgers EnviroStewards Alumni Association. He recruited and convened a steering committee that developed a mission and vision statement, laid out a plan to recruit general members and offered an initial slate of officers. Members of the Steering Committee have already made significant contributions to the operation and improvement of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program.

Robert Lord   Moorestown, NJ
Applied multiple skills to enhancing the Rancocas Nature Center.  Bob designed and constructed several wooden foot bridges and two wooden docks at water testing sites. He cleared and improved 1.7 miles of trail, including designing and placing educational signage on the trails. He began restoration on a 10 acre meadow at the Rancocas Nature Center and completed the preliminary design and construction of a school bus parking area nearby. He planted 25 oak trees with deer guards. Most of these projects included a group of 15-20 young adults belonging to the NJ Youth Corp who helped and learned the connection between what they were doing and the environment.

Dionne Polk    Allentown, NJ
Assumed the role of  project coordinator and liaison on an ANJEC sponsored grant in her town, Upper Freehold Township (Monmouth County), for a study of septic capacity.
The study used the NJDEP Nitrate Dilution/ Trela-Douglas Model to develop criteria for raw data on current and projected groundwater quality. This information would be used to determine the maximum load of residential units the groundwater could safely absorb without compromising existing wells and septics in her town which relies entirely on private wells and septic systems.  
The results of the study showed a dramatic difference between the number of zoned units and the number that could be supported by environmental conditions according the NJDEP regulations.

The study showed the following data for the town:

  • Full build-out per current zoning:   2,968
  • Number of units  based on then-current NJDEP of nitrate max of 5.2 mg/l:  949
  • Number of units based on new NJDEP nitrate max of 2.0 mg/l:   351

The study provided a sound scientific basis on which to adjust and defend zoning, and plan for future growth. The results were incorporated in the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) portion of UFT’s Master Plan, which was adopted in December 2007. 

Dionne’s role was to be responsible for doing whatever it took to drive the project to successful completion as described above.  ANJEC provided me with a project plan, phase completion dates and deliverables. She kept the project team focused on the tasks during the project.  She set and conducted meetings, including publicizing the study and the results.  Dionne submitted detailed quarterly status reports to ANJEC as well as phase status reports, and acted as point of contact and mediation for team members and ANJEC.


 Marlene  Robinson   Delanco, NJ
Embarked on a two phase project focused on water quality in her watershed;
Stream water quality monitoring: Marlene conducted monthly water testing and environmental assessment of Pompeston Creek in Moorestown in cooperation with the Pompeton Creek Watershed Association (14 to date) and 5-6 times a year at non-tidal Cinnaminson site. This Category I stream is frequently contaminated by E.coli, fecal coliform, and Enterococci. It is one of three sites in NJ whose chemical data are incorporated into the Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report required by the Clean Water Act.

 Education: Marlene helped 120 students from four local schools understand the value of clean water, how we pollute it, and how to rate the health of creek water by identifying the macro invertebrates in it.  With six teachers she panned and conducted a two-day all-inclusive environmental program for 325 sixth graders at one school. She used hands-on activities at five Earth Day and Community Fairs to convey how individuals and communities impact their local water systems- and how a change of behavior can improve the health of both.  She is chair of Education Committee of Pompeston Creek Watershed Assoc. and has been recently appointed an Environmental Commissioner of Delanco Township.

Paula Uhland              Hainesport, NJ
Proposed, planned, and championed a 19 acre park in Hainesport on unused land adjacent to the township complex and an elementary school that incorporates a native meadow and butterfly garden. Over a year and a half Paula devoted well over 100 hours to meeting with local stakeholders and potential sources of assistance to gain necessary approvals, develop a design and apply for aid from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. The municipality has budgeted $4100 towards development of the park. The park will include walking and biking trails which will connect with two portions of the Rancocas Greenway.  Construction of trails and infrastructure is expected to begin soon and planting of the Butterfly meadow is expected in Spring of 2009. The adjacent school is planning to utilize the area for nature education programs for its students.

Fred Weisel    Easthampton, NJ
Created an educational native plant demonstration garden at the headquarters of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. The finished garden is open to the public and shows the proper and effective use of native plants both in conventional settings and in low-water use xeriscaped gardens. Adoption of native plants in the landscape is of special benefit tot the Pinelands area because they do not require fertilizer, lime or much irrigation.
Fred also assisted with the Pineland’s Preservation Alliance’s annual native plant sale. Russell Juelig, Director of Outreach for the PPA said, “All of the native plant beds have improved dramatically as a direct result of his labors… and (he) has continued to contribute his time to make new improvements.”