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Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Certified Rutgers Environmental Stewards 2013

Certified Rutgers Environmental Steward
Intern Projects and Impacts - 2013

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.


Ila Gillenwater          Warren                         Duke 2011
Ila interned with Organic Diversion as a recycling “coach”. In this role she would visit the client facilities including corporate and school cafeterias, supermarkets and restaurants.  She would check to see if they were having any challenges with the program.  She examined the contents of garbage pails to make sure that all items possible were being diverted.  Paper egg cartons were often missed and could be diverted.   She also checked to see that there was no contamination in the green bins with items that could not be composted such as plastic wrap. While doing her rounds, Ila trained 140 employees annually and for the two years she worked on this project she increased single stream recycling by 25% and helped divert 225 tons of organic matter annually. Since 1 T of food waste = 1 Ton of greenhouse gas emissions, this equals 225 tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced annually.

OD’s business model is quite simple.  The company “diverts” organic matter from traditional trash to a compost facility.  Therefore, there are clients on two sides. One side provides the organic matter and the other side provides the receptacle.  Current and previous clients such as Merck, Seton Hall University, McCaffrey’s Supermarkets, and restaurants divert any organic matter trash in their cafeterias and shops to separate trash bins, much the same way traditional recycling is done.  Instead of a “blue bin”, the organic matter is diverted to a “green bin”. 

Once full, the client deposits the compostable trash bags from the green bin into designated garbage pails outside called toters.  Once or twice per week, the Organic Diversion truck comes to empty these toters and deliver the organic matter to the composting facility.

Challenges include staff changes.  When the workers within the kitchen turned over, it took some time for them to remember to divert the organic materials instead of putting them in the traditional trash.  Ila discovered that some brands of the compostable bags would tear due to the weight of the produce.  She found one that worked well and improved the system.

In general, the clients were very happy with the program. Diverting the organic matter for the secondary use of compost, not only feels good, the clients were saving money!  Organic waste removal is less expensive with Organic Diversion than with the traditional trash disposal.  Organic waste is extremely heavy and garbage removal is measured by weight.

Ila’s contact at Organic Diversion, Gail Rosati, provided training and support.  Ila feels that it was a wonderful experience from beginning to end.  It enhanced her understanding of the waste management business and increased her interest in pursuing a career change in this direction.


Thomas Hill                Erial                             ACUA 2013
Tom interned with the South Jersey Land and Water Trust, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the water resources and land within the watersheds of southern New Jersey through public education, advocacy, increased scientific understanding, and habitat preservation.

Under the supervision of Michael Hogan of SJLWT Tom set up and performed a Macro Invertebrate study of the Big Timber Creek Watershed The need for such a study was emphasized by the large oil spill from the New Jersey Transit terminal in Turnersville in January, 2012, with this much of this oil ending up in the Big Timber Creek Watershed.

The information gathered by this Macro-Invertebrate study of the Big Timber Creek watershed will provide information as to the health of the watershed at present.  It will also provide a baseline to assess future deterioration or improvement in the quality of the Big Timber Creek Watershed for the staff of the South Jersey Land and Water Trust to use on an ongoing basis to assess the health of the Big Timber Creek Watershed.  This can be especially valuable in cases of environmental insult to this watershed area.  Michael Hogan of South Jersey Land and Water Trust will continue to monitor the Big Timber Creek Watershed and to update the MI study as needed.


Cheryl Mascioli         Brigantine                     ACUA 2013
Cheryl set out to improve recycling in her community and form a Green Team. At the start her town, Brigantine's, 2010 recycling rate was the second lowest in Atlantic County. Cheryl met with John Doring, Brigantine’s Recycling Coordinator. She attended several city council meetings, worked with city council, members of the community, and contacts at the ACUA to help Brigantine form a Green Team and register with Sustainable Jersey.

After many discussions and emails, council officially appointed the Green Team on May 17, 2013. Mr. Doring is the liaison to the DPW and Cheryl was nominated as co-chair. She had learned a lot about Sustainable Jersey through the Rutgers’s Environmental Stewardship program classes and could help navigate for the team. Brigantine’s Green Team is currently working towards 2014 certification.  Her further accomplishments included:

  • Formation of Green Team, January – May 2013
  • Collaborated with ACUA and Public Works to obtain 65-gallon lidded recycling containers for Brigantine’s beach parking lots and other community locations
  • Assisted John Doring with completing the 2012 Recycling Tonnage Grant
  • Created recycling flyer for real estate rental’s welcome packets – had ACUA & DPW approve
  • Worked with local realty companies to create Valet Recycling letter which will be sent in January 2014 to homeowner’s who rent through real estate companies in 2014
  • Wrote $2,000 Sustainable Jersey small business grant, which included a budget and analysis on using grant funds to purchase additional 65-lidded recycling bins with Green Team’s logo for use throughout the community.  Notified recently Brigantine was awarded grant.
  • Assisted DPW with planning, organization, and logistics, for Brigantine’s August 17th “Clean and Green in Brigantine “ Green Fest event, which was a collaboration between Brigantine’s Clean Communities and Green Team.  Event planning included site lay out and recycling bins.
  • Assisted with the creation of the Brigantine Beach Green Team website www.brigantinebeachgreenteam.com with individual in charge of city’s website. Currently maintain and update website for the Green Team with city and team events.
  • Worked with John Doring and ACUA contacts to obtain a banner under the ACUA’s recycling “Put It Out There” campaign, which will be hanged on Brigantine Boulevard the week of October 7th. 

In her original internship proposal she had the goal of increasing Brigantine’s overall 2013 recycling rate by 5% during the summer/fall 2013. She learned over the past year that patience is required and it could take many months or years for small changes to have a large impact. Having the support of a larger organization, like the ACUA and Rutgers helps tremendously. She now expects that her efforts coupled with the ACUA’s “Put It Out There” campaign, will increase Brigantine’s recycling rate in 2014 by at least 10%.  Together with the Green Team she will help analyze this trend in 2014.


Tanya McCabe          Blairstown                    Duke 2013
Tanya taught watershed and stream assessment to elementary school children with the goal of increasing their appreciation for their local river and water and it’s importance to our health, economics, recreation and the planet itself. 

To meet this goal she took classes to expand her scientific background relevant to subject matter.  Her preparation included assisting in doing stream assessments with a qualified stream assessment coordinator to reinforce this knowledge. She then worked with a qualified instructor already doing watershed and stream assessment education to develop expertise in the teaching process and to round out her classroom technique.
 Her supervisor was Beth Styler Barry, Executive Director, Musconetcong Watershed Association.

Her training included an additional 18 hours of training with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and the NJDEP Stream School. She spent 12 hours conducting stream assessments in the region around her home and has conducted field events with children at the Brass Castle School in Washington, NJ, the Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, NJ, The Blairstown Township School and two schools in Hope Township. These were done in cooperation with Karen Lund, Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Musconetcong Watershed Association

This project is on-going and the outcome is increased appreciation by students for water and it’s importance to our health, economics, recreation and future.


Claire Sommer           West Orange                Duke 2012
As an intern with the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise (ISE) at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Claire worked on the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise’s Sept. 21, 2012 breakfast panel discussion called:  “SPRINGING BEYOND RIO+20: Toward a True Global Compact for Sustainable Development.”

The larger goal of ISE is to help NJ businesses and municipalities solve local green challenges by providing information, resources and networking opportunities about Sustainable Development globally and in our state.

This one day event educated NJ business community leaders and NJ municipal green leaders about Sustainable Development trends globally, created an online NJ Sustainable Development LinkedIn group to help state agencies, businesses, municipalities, and town green team members connect, learn, share information, and coordinate activities, and supported ISE in helping Fairleigh Dickinson University further its vision as a global leader in education to NJ students, businesses and citizens.

 The effort was evauated by  
1. Attendance at breakfast seminar compared to past events
2. Attendance at after-seminar discussion compared to past events
3. Members of LinkedIn group
4. Post-event participant survey to rate satisfaction with content and format and intention to apply knowledge gained at the event.
5. One-month post-event participant survey to measure action taken
6. Anecdotal feedback
7. Website/Social media traffic
8. ISE directors' evaluation of my work


Sidney Stevens                       Coopersburg, Pa.                     Belvidere 2012
Sidney used her skills as a professional writer and journalist to help two environmental groups (one established and one just launching) improve their public image, outreach and message. The first group, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), is a statewide organization founded in 1998 to protect public health and natural resources, as well as to move Pennsylvania toward a clean energy future and green economy. The second group, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, was formed in 2012 with the help of PennFuture and other environmental groups in the 5-state watershed region.


This half of the internship focused on improving PennFuture’s website to make it more user-friendly. The website is extensive, covering the group’s work in energy, water, air, drilling/mining, climate issues, legal cases, and legislation/policy. The requires various upgrades and updates to boost its appeal and effectiveness.

She created a glossary of definitions for terms and acronyms found on the website that might be unfamiliar and/or vague to the average visitor (e.g., joule, green energy, PNDI [Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory], etc.). The glossary will become a separate page on the website, plus terms from the list will be highlighted wherever they appear, allowing users to hold their cursor over them for a pop-up definition to appear.
She also went through the entire website looking for outdated pages to delete, broken or expired links, and pages that require updating.

PennFuture is currently applying for a grant and hopes to incorporate these and other changes sometime in 2014. With the overhaul, the group’s website should be less cluttered, more readable, and easier to navigate, which in turn will improve its impact and reach.

Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed

The second part of the internship involved helping the newly launched CDRW create a public face, raise awareness about its goals, attract new members, and help it plan and host its first annual conference.

CDRW was formed in 2012 to help protect and restore the Delaware River, its tributaries, and surrounding landscapes. Its mission is to unite environmental organizations on the frontlines of watershed protection in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and enhance their effectiveness through advocacy and policy support, communications assistance, and information sharing and networking. By bringing together member groups (which include not only PennFuture, but also the National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, New Jersey Audubon Society, Friends of the Upper Delaware, and the National Parks Conservation Association) CDRW hopes to amplify their diverse strengths and create a powerful voice for the watershed.

Sidney’s Internship included the following:

* Participating in a meeting of CDRW’s Steering Committee in Wilmington, Delaware in December 2012 to help determine the coalition’s goals for its first year. Members voted on a two priorities: to advocate for the passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA) to increase attention and federal funding for watershed protection, and to pursue National Blueway designation for the Delaware River. The National Blueway System was created in 2012 by the Secretary of the Interior to recognize large river systems that have significant natural, cultural, recreational and economic value.

* Creation of a Facebook page.

* Creation of a prototype website (including design and text) that should be ready sometime in 2014.

* Creation of a fact sheet to be sent to potential new members and distributed at events.

* Facilitation and planning of CDRW’s first annual meeting and conference called A Watershed United. This included researching venues, as well as helping to design and write a conference flyer and a “Save the Date” postcard to publicize the event. The conference took place on June 10 and 11, 2013 at the Inn at Lambertville Station in Lambertville, NJ, which was chosen for it history, beauty and its setting along the banks of the Delaware River. Nearly 100 people attended to hear presentations and participate in breakout sessions by leading watershed advocates. Participating groups included the American Littoral Society, Delaware Nature Society, Ducks Unlimited, Friends of the Upper Delaware River, and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. Former Delaware Gov. Michael Castle also spoke during an awards luncheon. Field trips included a tour of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in nearby New Hope, PA.