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Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Certified Rutgers Environmental Stewards 2010

Certified Rutgers Environmental Steward
Intern Projects and Impacts - 2010

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.

Joseph     Basralian                    New York, NY                        Essex 2009
Volunteered for NJ Audubon Society and worked on almost every aspect of the NJ Keep It Green coalition’s Vote Yes campaign for Public Question #1 on November 3rd, 2009.  New Jersey successfully voted in favor of $400 million in funding to continue our state’s preservation programs!
He was particularly involved in writing for the fundraising campaign, writing a wide range of outreach and media materials (including exhaustive campaign fact sheets and other research materials. The successful campaign (52.9% Yes, 47.1% No) assures a continuation of the Green Acres Program, the Farmland Preservation Program, and the NJ Historic Trust.  These programs protect our clean water and natural areas, our working farms, our shared history, our quality of life and economy, and the future for our children and grandchildren.
He helped NJ Audubon raise over $600,000 for the campaign.
The NJ Keep It Green coalition continues to grow and he has remained involved.

Ronald Chen              Princeton , NJ              Duke 2009
Volunteered 91 hours with the D&R Greenway Land Trust  working in their native plant nursery assisting in propagating, seed cleaning and related work. His work contributed to fund raising for the organization through their 2009 plant sale and he also did restoration on land trust properties. Other work included construction of cold frames, seed testing and cleaning as well as inventory tracking.

Linda  Cody               Whitehouse Station, NJ            Duke 2010
Assisted NJRC&D has a donor who is funding the restoration of a site in Sussex County, referred to as the Homested Complex primarily for wildlife habitat.  The site contains two ponds (4ac and .7ac) that are impacted by runoff directly from land that is currently lawn and maintains a population of Canadian Geese.  Habitat restoration is primarily to protect the water bodies which drain into the Paulinskill River from fecal coliform bacteria (from the geese droppings) and phosphorous from lawn chemicals.
The smaller pond faces the road and a main branch of the public library and assisted living facility.  The county would like this highly visible pond buffer to be aesthetically pleasing and requested that it be designed with a variety of plant materials beyond what a typical buffer might include.
There is an education/outreach component to this project since the public access the site. NJRC&D is a nonprofit organization with limited funding for this type of project. Using Linda’s skills as a landscape architect to fulfill the county’s request for a design was critical to the project
Linda  designed a riparian buffer for both ponds on the site taking into account the request for an aesthetically pleasing treatment of the smaller pond.  This included a site analysis that extended beyond the immediate site to assess the impact of other bodies of water and facilities (Fire Academy across the street w/ pond draining into the two site ponds, a DPW facility).  She created a plant list and general locations as well as contact native plant nurseries for plant materials for the buffers.  She also looked at site drainage to see if there are other opportunities to treat water runoff to improve water quality.
The project has a completion date of September 31, 2011 and it is anticipated that everything will be planted, in the ground by that date. 

Susan Dorward                      Martinsville,NJ Duke 2010
Improved  energy efficiency on the Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) campus by  reviewing a previous energy audit report then providing input and guidance to help the audit receive approval from the state government. Following that she prioritized and planned the implementation of items identified in the audit report.  This included load scheduling, point adjustments, verification of device operation, and sequence of operations adjustments.
Sue also helped RVCC obtain River-Friendly Certification, which is one of the action items from the college's environmental stewardship agreement with the EPA.  The New Jersey Water Supply Authority has provided a detailed list of action items, including soil testing.
Sue's efforts reduced energy costs for RVCC (financial benefit) and carbon emissions (environmental benefit).  RVCC's River-Friendly Certification will help ensure the quality of tributaries to the Raritan River that flow through its campus, benefiting both the campus and the ecology downstream.  A state-approved energy audit and the River-Friendly Certification are both milestones for the EPA agreement, which is important to the college community and generates positive publicity for the college.

Richard Dufort           Madison, NJ                Essex 2008
Kathy  Woodward                  Chatham,NJ                 Duke 2008
For the better part of the last two years, Kathy Woodward and Rich Dufort have jointly run a program to eradicate invasive plants at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Kathy is on the board of the Friend of the Great Swamp, Rich is a long time volunteer. Their invasives sessions were semi-monthly, usually about three hours on a weekday morning. They had had 21 sessions starting June 2009, generally averaging 7-9 people including ourselves.
They exclusively focused on cut-stem treatment of woody invasives, predominantly multi-flora rose, Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and a few others. As part of the project, Rich became an NJ Certified Pesticide Applicator so their volunteers could use glyphosate to kill the plants. They estimate about 7000 plants treated total. Both have put in way more than 60 hours on this one

Their accomplishments were to:

  • Remove invasive plants from a large area in  the Swamp
  • Establish a protocol for using volunteers to remove invasives in the Swamp
  • Create a cadre of trained volunteers who can be used to remove invasives in other parts of the Swamp
  • Get people out to enjoy the natural world.

Anybody (people, plants, and animals) who uses the Swamp will benefit.  They also improved the Swamp environment with little expense for the government.

Bridget Elmes                        Palmyra,NJ                  EcoComplex 2010
Installed a 288 square foot rain garden at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park in Palmyra, NJ, Bridget Elmeswhich contains 250 native plats. The rain garden is located at the front of the Nature Park building and is a foculpoint for the hundreds of school children and adults that visit the center. She has established monthly programs with the goal of  informing 100 people each year about the benefits of rain gardens. Additionally she plans to see at least 2 homeowner and 1 school will install a rain garden in the coming year.

Kay Fanning               Mt. Laurel, NJ              EcoComplex 2010      
Ran a campaign to recruit observers for the NJ Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) primarily by collaborating with the Burlington County Master Gardener program and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.  As a result of her efforts at least eight new observers were added in the Pinelands regions which had previously been suffering from a lack of detailed observation. Dave Robinson, NJ State Climatologist, said of these efforts, “This is of critical importance for precipitation and drought monitoring in the Pinelands, an area previously with sparse observations.”

John A. Fargnoli                     Gillette, NJ                   Essex 2009
Served as a recycling site coach in collaboration with Organic Diversions LLC. .
John trained more corporate cafeterias in the state of New Jersey than any other previous coach.  Sustainability Directors and Head Chefs from Bayer Healthcare, Goldman Sachs, Merck Pharmaceutical, Seton Hall University and The Westin of Jersey City have continued to request John's monthly monitoring of their program.  John also attended state Organic Recycling Forums and visited Organic Processing Facilities.  Organic Diversions particularly appreciated John's insight and out of the box suggestions to enhance our food waste recycling program.
Altogether John's efforts have enabled Organic Diversion to divert 312 tons of food waste out of landfills and into recycling in the past year.
Landfills are reaching capacity and costs to waste generators for waste disposal average $70 per ton and continue to rise.  Organic Diversion, LLC, located in Marlton, NJ, has developed a commercial, proprietary program which attempts to address both the environmental impact and cost of waste disposal.  Commercial food operations generate more recyclable organic materials than any other business and up to 75% of the waste coming out of commercial food operations is recyclable.  Further when organic items are buried in a landfill, they decompose without oxygen and release methane which is a greater contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide.  The organic material diverted is converted to compost or fertilizer, which is used commercially on lawns, golf courses, etc.  Additionally the process contributes to a lower overall waste disposal cost to the commercial food operator.
John also devoted 55 hours to the North Jersey RC&D agency collecting data for their open space program.

April    Lee (Fung Len Ong)              Fanwood, NJ               Duke 2010
On behalf of the Fanwood Environmental Commission April helped restore many areas of the Fanwood Nature Center (FNC), an 8 acre open space site that is utilized by community residents of Fanwood and Scotch Plains as well as neighboring townships. The nature center was overrun by Japanese knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, English ivy, pachysandra, multiflora rose, vinca minor, and mile-a-minute (to name a few). Well over 50% of the nature center is occupied by non-native invasive plants that have displaced native plants and / or diminished their population. Her internship project was multi-faceted; it includes mobilizing community residents, government agencies, businesses and school communities to be actively involved.
Community outreach and awareness was done. Articles have appeared in the Suburban News and the Fanwoodian; flyers have been posted throughout the community (2 libraries, Fanwood Borough Hall, Park Middle School’s 7th Grade Service Learning Unit, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, Fanwood Environmental Commission website, and Scotch Plains Environmental Commission). Residents received flyers about the restoration project in their mailboxes..
The restoration of the Fanwood Nature Center will benefit the community of Fanwood, Scotch Plains and all neighboring towns that utilize the nature center. By helping to restore the nature center, residents will become more aware and knowledgeable of invasive plants. They will also gain knowledge of native plants and how they are beneficial to the natural environment. When community residents work together to help the nature center, I am certain that a connection to nature will form, thus creating a caring community. Gary Szelc, Chair of the Fanwood Environmental Commission, praised the work of April Lee, “She has been a positive, dynamic force for the environment.” She has since been appointed a first an alternate then a full member of  her town’s Environmental Commission!

Rich    Madden          Neshanic Station, NJ                Duke 2008
Rich MaddenPlanned and conducted a biological stream assessment of Dukes Brook on the Doris Duke Estate from 2008 to 2010. He did this in collaboration with Duke Farms, the Upper Raritan Watershed Association and the South Branch Watershed association which lent him tools and training. His study showed the stream to be in boarderlin Fair condition, which was a puzzeling result to him given its islolation and lack of disturbance for approximately 50 years. Possible explanations his investigations revealed were un-documented off-site pollution sources and/or earlier ecocolical damage (silt) that is still affecting stream quality after several decades.
Methods and results of his project were shared with a meeting of Scoutmasters in 2009.

Claire  Mayer             Morristown,NJ             Essex 2009
assisted Organic Diversion to train and monitor Bayer Healthcare, both Wayne and Montville campuses, as well as Raritan Valley Community College.  Claire's attention to detail and compassion for the environment have been key factors in Claire's ability to influence food waste recycling.   Organic Diversion appreciated Claire's inquisitiveness and suggestions as she assisted in the training of 750 employees at Bayer's Montville campus.
Claire's efforts have enabled Organic Diversion to divert 100 tons or 200,000 lbs. of food waste out of New Jersey Landfills and into creating compost in the past year.
She found that with time a recycling culture develops at a site and coaching visits might be less frequent or discontinued after a year.  Both sites appreciated the program.
Quick facts about the Environmental Impact of Food Waste:
1. In the United States, more than 30 million tons of food waste are disposed of in landfills annually.
2. Food waste is the second largest category of municipal solid waste in the United States, accounting for 18 percent of the waste stream.
3.  In the United States, less than three percent of food waste is diverted from landfills.
4.  If 50 percent of food waste in the United States is anaerobically digested, enough electricity would be generated to power approximately 2.5 million homes for a year.
5.   Landfills are the second largest source of human-caused methane in the United States, and food waste contributes significantly to landfill methane production.

Michele McBride                  Hampton, NJ                Duke 2010
As Vice-Chair of the Union Township Environmental Commission she planned and implemented a pioneering effort to inventory all conservation easements held by the town and make property owners aware of the existence and nature of these easements. In the process over 200 conservation easements were found and mapped and organized in an Excel database.  Her work was used as part of the town’s application for Sustainable Jersey Silver Certification.
The database is to be put on-line so residents can check for themselves on the existence of easements. This may be the first township in New Jersey to have progressed do far in the monitoring and maintenance of conservation easements. Michele is running for a spot on her Township Committee in November.

Ryan   Paxton             Brooklyn, NY              Essex 2010
Did dual internships with the Passaic River Coalition (PRC) and the NJDEP.
For the PRC he was involved in 1) site visits, to determine the interest of PRC in buying particular parcels; 2) discussions with the range of players involved in the process, including landowners, state and local government, appraisers, lawyers, and others; and 3) keeping the necessary paperwork flowing, and maintaining the computer data base showing the status of each actual and potential property.
For NJDEP he did work that was central to the updating of a “Compliance Assistence Packet” used to help increase the reccyclingof electronic waste.
Electronic equipment has become a big part of our everyday life.  Discarded electronics fall into a relatively new category of waste known as “E-Waste”. Hazardous levels of lead, cadmium and beryllium can be contained in E –Waste, so processing these materials can pose serious hazards to the environment and the individuals performing the work. Recent investigations have shown that large quantities of E-Waste are being sent to foreign countries where less than environmentally friendly recycling is taking place.   
Ryan’s second task was working with Compliance and Enforcement is to ensure that generators, transporters and exporters of these wastes are doing their due diligence in determining the validity of their end markets.  He did this by researching the various E-Waste/Universal Waste end markets and reviewing the end market records provided by the various generators, transporters and exporters.  His supervisor Michael Hastry, Chief of the Bureau of Hazardous Waste Compliance and Enforcement, said, “Ryan…developed an extensive spreadsheet to document his finding. The spreadsheet is an integral part of this project. We have already used (it)..as part of an ongoing enforcement action.”

Marianne Reynolds               Skillman, NJ                 Duke 2009
Helped Duke Farms achieve “River Friendly” farm and business certification in 2010. What she did is best summed up by Charles Barreca,  Ecological Resources Specialist, Duke Farms Foundation,  “Thanks to her, meetings, applications and the process for getting the River Friendly Business process going have all been possible. Together she and Duke Farms staff devised ways to showcase our ecological work and allowed the River Friendly Business certifiers to custom tailor goals for us to pursue so that we could become even better at conserving water and demonstrating to the public how to follow suit. I believe she has fulfilled her obligation for the River Friendly Business certification of Duke, the rest of the process is in our hands and the certifying authorities. Thanks,!”
As a second project Marianne also helped the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens develop a map and brochure of invasive species at the garden to educate visitors. She will use this in her work as a docent at the garden.

Randi Rothmel                      Mt. Holly, NJ               EcoComplex 2009
Reactivated the Mount Holly Environmental Advisory Committee with the ultimate goal Randi Rothmelof qualifying her town for New Jersey Sustainable Certification. To this end she brought in a speaker  to explain the value of Environmental Commissions in July of 2009. That  plus other work resulted in re-establishment of the Environmental Advisory Committee on March 22nd 2010. On May 1, 2010, as newly appointed chair of the EAC, she ran a Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration in Mount Holly that included a rain barrel workshop, vulture appreciation lecture,  and several other talks and activities.  They are well on their way to the next goal of Sustainable Jersey Certification.


Meg Rich                   Ewing, NJ                    EcoComplex 2010
Organized an in-depth training experience for small groups of children and adults to intill a knowledge and appreciation of soil science in collaboration with a local farm and the Mercer County Master Gardeners.  Groups met on four dates in August and studied and experienced soils, composting, vermiculture and soil life under a microscope done in a manner appropriate tot eh age groups present.  She also used excerpts from a film “Dirt:the movie” to expand understanding of soils and their role in ecosystems.
This small but intensive field test of a soil curricula for youth may serve as a model for expanded efforts in the future.

Nicole Scott-Harris                Bloomfield, NJ             Essex 2009
Collaborated with the Greater Newark Conservancy aid a local group calling itself the Newark Water Group (NWG) question and participate in a major policy decision concerning whether the city of Newark should replace its Department of Water and Sewer Utilities with a municipal utility authority (MUA). To this end she researched the issue and its news coverage, studied articles on the pros and cons of MUAs and decided to help the Newark Water Group frame a strategy to advocate their opposition to the MUA. She participated in many meetings during the summer of 2009 and her work culminated with the development of a powerpoint presentation expressing and explaining the NWGs stance in opposition to creation of an MUA. In August 2010 “The Back Room” political blog reported the situation, “The political agony continued this afternoon for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose plan to create a revenue-generating municipal utilities authority to help bail out the city's flailing finances came up against the hard edged of a disapproving council.  A majority of the nine-member governing body shot down the mayor's proposal.”
Philippa Solomon                    Edison, NJ                   Duke 2010
Gathered and organized a range of information for the Edison Wetlands Association that will expedite and strengthen the cleanup of a hazardous site located in the heart of the Dismal Swamp  Conservation Area . Her project, which involved many hours of research and boring paperwork will result in a stronger and more immediate cleanup. This cleanup has been stalle din the state beauracracy for over a decade. The resulting cleanup will benefit public health and safety including hikers, cyclists and birders who utilize the growing network of trails near the site in all directions. The local economy, which is developing towards recreational users of the newest state nature refuge will also benefit.

Anthony Szumski                   Bloomsbury, NJ           Duke 2007
Assisted the State Climatologist , Dr. Dave Robinson, with the maintenance of Safetynet and Mesonet weather reporting stations in New Jersey. He adjusted evaluated, cleaned
and calibrated equipment as necessary. As a result the systems provided a continuous flow of weather data for collection, and observation by the Office of the State Climatologist. This data collection benefits all members of society with improved weather modeling and forecasting. Data also enables scientists world wide to detect trends in weather patterns and climate change. Tony has agreed to stay on with the Office of the State Climatologist as a volunteer technical assistant on as as needed basis.


Dean   Talcott            Fanwood, NJ   Essex 2010
Created a professional, and well detailed plan for the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal for access and a trail along the Passaic River in Union County.  It should be noted that Dean is a licensed civil engineer who worked for Union County who is an avid outdoorsman, Master Tree Steward and Fanwood Nature Center Caretaker. His project included detailed photographs, cross-sections and  structural details necessary for the completion of the trail.  His work makes available to Union County much of what is needed to make the planning decisions necessary for creation of a formal trail system. We can only hope that if this trail is created it is dubbed the “Talcott Trail”.

Claudia Teal               Bordentown, NJ           EcoComplex 2008
Undertook additional training in visual and biological stream assessment including the use of the YSI 556 multiparameter meter  to assess dissolved oxygen, ph, turbidity, , conductivity and water temperature. She then served with a small group of volunteers for the Crafts Creek  Spring Hill Brook Watershed Association . For 18 months Claudia used the skills gained from this training to record data , enableing the watershed association to note changes in water quality so that mitigation may be pursued if warranted. She continues to assist the watershed with monthly stream monitoring.

Milo    Turk                Absecon, NJ                ACUA 2010
Every river begins somewhere. This was the theme of Milo’s project in cooperation with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. He helped them prepare a presentation to be used to inform municipalities about the impacts of water withdrawals, low impact site design, water quality, riparian forest buffers and the role of government in the water allocation process. Rich Bizub of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance said,  “Milo’s work has assisted me with a presentation that is not yet completed…developing necessary background information.”  The PPA is awaiting funding to complete this project, through no fault of Milo’s. It is anticipated that the project will be completed and ready for “prime time” in 2011.

Mami  Umemura                    Lumberton, NJ EcoComplex 2010
Provided maintenance for a native plant garden at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance including weeding watering, pruning and pest management. She also assisted with the PPA annual native plant sale on April 25, 2010 and entered data in their plant database, helping fill out the plant profiles of all the plants believed to grow in the pinelands. During this time Mami also served as a greeter and docent giving tours to visitors of the PPA native gardens.  Russ Julig, PPA Director of Outreach said, “(Mami) was an enthusiastic, energetic and highly competent worker….Thank you for making possible these kinds of mutually beneficial transactions!”

Karen  Walsh              Flemington, NJ             Duke 2009
Assisted the Hunterdon Land Trust in running the Thursday Farmers Market in Flemington in the summer of 2010. This included directing volunteers, directing parking, arranging educational events at the market and leading book discussions on topics related to food and the environment.  The market provided a retail outlet for products from 18 local farms with products ranging from fresh produce to baked goods and buffalo meat. .  On a typical Sunday over 500 cars come through the parking lot bringing local residents in to shop. The Thursday market was in operation for the first time this year.  There are fewer vendors available at the midweek market, but regulars include Phillips Farm, Comeback Farm , Sweet Valley, Griggstown Quail Farm, Bobilink Cheese and Oak Grove Plantation.   Her efforts expanded marketing opportunities for local farms and expanded opportunities for local residents to buy fresh, locally produced food.

Amy    Weeder                       Lebanon, NJ                Duke 2008
Worked for Greenfaith, an interfaith coalition for the environment, creating web-based tools to assist people in evaluating their ability to successfully implement solar power projects for their facility within budget.

  • Researched and wrote solar electricity overview document, ‘Solar Electricity 101’
  • Provided list of on-line resources to access for greater detail
  • Defined interview template called  “Decision Making – Lighting the Way”
  • Interviewed successful & un-successful implementers of solar power
  • Compiled results & key learnings from dialogs held with five faith-based organizations

Remaining Steps:

  • Approval of vignettes by interviewed organizations
  • Completion of Financial/Funding section of ‘Decision’ document
  • Incorporate materials on web-site

This work will facilitate the adoption of sustainable energy sources by faith communities in New Jersey which will also inspire and motivate members of those communities to adopt similar practices in their homes and businesses.