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About Us

2013 Class Bowmans

What is a Rutgers Environmental Steward?

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 close to 800 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.

Rutgers Environmental Stewards work on a diverse array of projects from protecting Pine Snakes in the Pine Barrens, to reducing plastic waste, to protecting our local rivers and streams with rain gardens.

Program Requirements

Stewards attend weekly online classes on topics taught by leading researchers from Rutgers, government, and the non-profit sector. Optional fieldtrips are offered to environmentally significant locations in New Jersey. Classes run for 17 weeks starting in January. Read more about class details...

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.

Is the Environmental Steward Program right for you?

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.

Testimonials- Here's what graduates say about our program:

 “I volunteer with the Raritan Headwaters Association’s Science Dept, and not coming from a science background, the RES program provided me with a wealth of information enabling me to get more from my activities and to be a better volunteer. The administrators and guest lecturers are top notch. I hope you take the course. It is well worth it.” Raymond Croot, Hillsborough

 “Coming from a corporate technology career, I had passion but no clue where to put it. The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program empowered me to take my first steps in service of the environment. The program gave me the broad, sound, scientific base to better understand the challenges we face and where I can make a difference. The classes are incredibly informative with a mix of science, policy experts and resources, and local examples of success. I met many experienced professionals in front of the classroom and joined a motivated community of Stewards that continue to be a source of knowledge and inspiration. The field trips provided invaluable opportunities to see stewardship in action. Thanks to my RES certification, I am now a member of the Montclair Environmental Commission, assisting my community to create and maintain a cleaner, more sustainable future.” Janine Salvador, Montclair.

There were several sessions in the field so you get practical, hands on experience to supplement the lectures. The topics are varied and the lecturers gave great presentations. Ken Carr, Belle Mead

“I went into the RES program not really knowing what I could do to make a difference environmentally, and the program helped me find direction.  Personally, I feel the RES program is priceless, and so well worth taking part in. Being able to have a network is also wonderful!” Helen Duda, Williamstown

 “It's a terrific program. You get a different expert every week and learn about the latest best practices. It's also great for networking. You can learn a lot and be inspired (and can inspire others) by sharing what you are working on with your colleagues. Sheila Baker Gujra, Maplewood