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Creating Community and Environmental Impact: The Rutgers Environmental Stewards. Bruce Barbour Environmental Program Leader for Rutgers Cooperative Extension with Internal:

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creating community and environmental impact the rutgers environmental stewards

Creating Community and Environmental Impact: The Rutgers Environmental Stewards

Bruce Barbour

Environmental Program Leader for Rutgers Cooperative Extension



Jan Zientek, Mary Cummings, Chris Obropta, Joe Ponessa, Mary Powers Nikola, Stephanie Murphy, Lisa Evard, Dave Robinson, Dave Specca, Joe Paulin, Rebecca Jordan, Paul Gottleib.


Duke Farms Foundation, Conservation Resources Inc., Nj Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, NJ Conservation Foundation, the County Environmental Health Officers of Burlington, Someraet and Essex Counties, The NJ Bureau of Geology, The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, The Passaic River Coalition, D&R Greenway, Upper Raritan Watershed Association, South Branch Watershed Association, Hanson Park Conservancy, Great Swamp Watershed, Montgomery Friends of Open Space, Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Hackensack Riverkeeper.


Environmental issues are central to New Jersey’s future growth, development and well-being. Citizens trained in basic science and communication skills can effectively participate in local and statewide environmental decision and policy making, avoiding the wastes of time and money that occur when environmental issues are decided primarily by politics and emotion.

rutgers environmental steward volunteer training
Rutgers Environmental Steward Volunteer Training


The Rutgers Environmental Steward program provides training and experience which equips participants to contribute effectively to the process of finding solutions for environmental problems in the communities of New Jersey.

Land management –

A major issue that invites a volunteer based solution

desired outcomes
Desired Outcomes

Graduates will be knowledgeable about:

  • the basic processes of earth, air, water and biological systems
  • scientific techniques and tools
  • the research and regulatory infrastructure
  • group dynamics, leadership, conflict resolution
Participants will become networked with subject matter experts and each other for help in the future
  • Phase 1: Environmental Education Immersion Series (60 hours)
  • Phase 2: Internship (60 hours)
  • Phase 3: Advanced Training In Environmental Issues (periodic)
  • Phase 4: Veteran volunteer (ongoing)
offered regionally in nj
Offered regionally in NJ

2 locations in 2005

2 locations in 2006

3 locations in 2007

4 or 5 locations planned for 2008

  • Tuition $175 to $325
  • Used to fund program and operating expenses
  • 1/3 to local cooperator, 1/3 to Duke, 1/3 to state program.
  • Lecturers – no honorariums
  • Promotion
  • Instructional notes
  • Networking
  • Impact reporting
Core Curriculum

Geology and Soils

Water in the hydrologic Cycle – the Watershed

Ecology – Living Systems

Leadership – Social Systems


  • Beyond the core topics we customize the curriculum to emphasize topics of particularly local concern and having the need for volunteer involvement.

For example:

  • Coast- Water issues
  • Rural suburbs – wildlife and land management
  • Cities – building health, energy, waste management
selecting lecturers
Selecting Lecturers
  • Must contribute to defined objective in curriculum
  • Should be leading authority in state and potentially of use to students in solving problems
  • Incentive to lecturer is either altruism or the potential to attract high quality volunteers to their projects
  • Have to be good!
lecture content
Lecture Content
  • Rating of lecture content by students was 4.6 on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best.
evaluation of immersion experience
Evaluation of Immersion Experience
  • Environmental Sensitivity
  • Environmental Science knowledge
  • Civic Participation knowledge
  • Knowledge of Action
  • Environmentally positive behavior

-Evaluation designed by Dr. Rebecca Jordan

  • Environmental sensitivity:

The group consider themselves greatly empathetic toward the environment. In spite of this, 77% in 2005 and 88% in 2006 reported considerable gains in empathy that can be attributed to the environmental stewards course.

environmental science knowledge
Environmental science knowledge:

The group considers themselves to be moderately knowledgeable about environmental science. 97% in ‘05 and 96% in ‘06 report considerable gains in their environmental science knowledge.

civic participation knowledge
Civic participation knowledge:

The group considers themselves moderately knowledgeable. 83% in ’05 and 96% in ’06 report gains in their understanding in these areas.

knowledge of action locus of control
Knowledge of action/locus of control:

The group believes they have moderate influence over how environmental problems/issues are resolved. 55% in ’05 and 81% in ’06 feel that the course has contributed to a moderate increase in the belief that they can influence environmental problem resolution.

enthusiasm and confidence
Enthusiasm and Confidence:

89% reported increased enthusiasm and confidence.

describe what you learned as a result of course participation
Describe what you learned as a result of course participation:
  • Made many contacts and areas to obtain information. Did learn the level of technical skills that I wanted to obtain. I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals but it was a great start.
  • How to access information
  • Geology of NJ, watershed issues, power source issues, how to address problematic people in lectures
  • Soil science. Water science.
  • Better communication skills
  • Armed with fact and with controlled passion, I can make a difference.
describe how you are able to influence environmental issue resolution
Describe how you are able to influence environmental issue resolution:
  • I now speak to friends and acquaintances re: problems and issues and small changes one can make to make a large difference
  • This course has given me confidence to be able to find the information that will help solve these environmental issues
  • This course has enabled me to better be a source of information for stewardship of a watershed/estuary
  • I realize that I know more, because of a better background on environmental situations and feel more confident about using that knowledge in working with my local government and local agencies.
  • Now aware of environmental commission in my town; the class made me focus more on that info.
  • By translating complex issues into easily understandable and relevant topics in people’s everyday lives
Sample internships:
  • Introduce innovative town recycling system
  • Map & manage invasives on preserved land
  • Manage for native species in park
  • Make her synagogue is a green building
  • Become a climate observer
  • Docent at a state park
  • Join watershed monitoring program
  • Start watershed monitoring program!
  • Make local high school a “river friendly” campus
  • Educate on the need to eliminate combined sewer outflows
  • Box turtle restoration with Rutgers researchers