A Rutgers Environmental Steward is a volunteer that is trained in the important environmental issues affecting New Jersey, and works to solve local, community problems.
The program has trained over 450 volunteers since 2005 in areas concerning climate change, soil health, alternative energy, water resource protection, invasive species, habitat conservation, pollinator health, environmental policy, and more.
Our program focuses on science and public policy based on that science. Stewards learn about the techniques and tools used to monitor and assess the health of the environment. They gain an understanding of the research and regulatory agencies operating in New Jersey that focus on environmental issues. Stewards are introduced to a network of expert individuals and organizations who can be of service to them in the future as they wrestle with solving local environmental problems.
Stewards attend weekly classes on topics taught by leading researchers from Rutgers, government, and the non-profit sector. Classes run for 20 weeks starting in either January or September.
Classes are offered in counties throughout the state. Optional fieldtrips are offered to environmentally significant locations in New Jersey.
In order to become a Certified Environmental Steward, Stewards must complete a 60 hour internship of their choosing. The internship project helps Stewards get real world experience working on environmental problems in their communities.
The classes, fieldtrips, and internship do not replace a science degree, but help Stewards educate themselves when presented with a real world environmental problem.
Stewards are typically excited about science and the natural world around them, want to engage with their local policy makers, want to do their part to make a difference, and are self-starters. Many Stewards go on to become members of their local environmental commissions, green teams, and planning boards.
Anyone can become an Environmental Steward! Our Stewards are accountants, high school students, computer programmers, environmental commission members, teachers, laboratory technicians, or have a variety of other backgrounds.
You do not need an environmental degree. You simply need a passion for the environment, a desire to learn, and a willingness to volunteer to create positive change in your community.
It is our goal that Stewards use their knowledge to expand public awareness of scientifically based information related to environmental issues and help create positive change in their communities.
Rutgers Environmental Stewards are volunteers. This program does not offer a credential that you can use in for-profit activities or commercial endeavors. The Environmental Steward title cannot be used for political advocacy, nor can our Stewards engage in political advocacy as part of their internship projects.
We encourage Stewards to advocate for smart environmental policy based in scientific research.