TRENTON – New Jersey is looking for its next generation of environmental leaders, young people with a hands-on desire to improve their state and the quality of life for all of our residents. Some of those future leaders are likely to be found in the Department of Environmental Protection’s AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors Program, which is now seeking recruits for its 2013 class.
“This is a great program that cultivates our next environmental leaders, young people who will wake up each morning as I do and turn their thoughts to protecting the air, water, lands, and natural and historic resources of our state,” said Commissioner Bob Martin. “It is vital to prepare a new generation of leaders to take over that task.”
Coordinators are currently accepting applications for the next group of AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors through Aug 17. There are 20 potential watershed management areas across the state where an ambassador can be placed. Ambassadors work with all sectors of society to improve the quality of New Jersey’s waterways, nurturing community-based environmental activities, and empowering state residents to make responsible and informed decisions regarding their watersheds.
“Individuals who are selected for the Watershed Ambassadors program go through a rigorous training program that prepares them to work in the environmental field, particularly in the area of water resources,” said Jill Lipoti, DEP’s Division of Water Monitoring and Standards Director. “Ambassadors have proven to be extremely valuable resources in assisting the State in fill water quality information gaps.”
The DEP began hosting this federal AmeriCorps program in 2000. AmeriCorps is a national service initiative that began in 1993 and is also known as the domestic Peace Corps. The organization recently announced grants for programs, nationwide. New Jersey’s Watershed Ambassador Program was a recipient and received $260,000 in federal funding for 2013.
Ambassadors are expected to complete 1,700 hours of service in a 10 to 12 month period. In return, they receive a living stipend of up to $12,100 over the course of the term; eligibility for health benefits during this period; and training prior to and throughout their term of service. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a Bachelor’s Degree, and must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation to get to and from field sites.
Members of the current class of 2012 are now completing their year of service, with graduation scheduled tomorrow at Assunpink Wildlife Management Area in Robbinsville. In addition to gaining valuable knowledge and experience, they have grown to be integral parts of the communities where they were assigned.
“I have traveled all over the state and have been able to serve the community I grew up in,” said Amanda Lotto, a current Ambassador stationed at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson. “I never knew my community like I do now. It’s been an eye opening experience. You get to learn so much about the environment alongside people who are passionate about making a difference.”
A Toms River native, Lotto studied geography with a concentration in environmental studies at Montclair University before enrolling in the Corps Program.
In 2012, 20 individuals served as the DEP’s AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors. Current accomplishments to date include:
- Nearly 600 visual and biological assessments completed;
- Second year implementation of a new protocol for assessment of 100 lakes and 20 climate change stations;
- 1,163 volunteers trained in the DEP’s visual and biological assessment protocols;
- 1,294 educational watershed demonstrations performed reaching 25,944 people;
- Engaged in community watershed projects generating about 7,000 stewardship hours;
- Served as captains for Governor Christie’s Barnegat Bay Blitz initiative;
- Serve as captains for Delaware River and Bay – Dash for the Trash Cleanups to commemorate National AmeriCorps Week
Interested applicants for the 2012-2013 Program should apply by Aug. 17 online at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?fromSearch=true&id=45917 or by sending a resume and cover letter to:
Akili H. Gordon or Kim Cenno
AmeriCorps Program Manager
NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program
Division of Water Monitoring and Standards
Bureau of Environmental Analysis and Restoration
Mail Code: 401-04I
401 E. State Street, PO Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
Phone: 1-609-633-1441 Fax: 1-609-984-6505
For more information on the NJDEP’s AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bear/americorps.htm
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