Watershed Ambassadors test New Jersey’s waterways.

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is seeking 20 new AmeriCorps recruits to serve as Watershed Ambassadors for the 2019-2020 season, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today.

The upcoming season will be the 20th anniversary for the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program within the DEP.

“The AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program benefits our state by engaging residents in the critical work of environmental protection and stewardship in their local watershed, adding to our overall quality of life,” McCabe said. “The program provides training for our future environmental leaders by educating communities about how to protect and improve water quality in their neighborhoods and towns.”

Applications for the 2019-2020 class will be accepted through Friday, Aug. 16, or until all positions are filled.

For the 2019-2020 term, candidates are particularly needed to serve at the County of Passaic Planning Department, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, the Hackensack Riverkeeper, the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and Cape May County.

Ambassadors provide direct service to all sectors of the public to improve the quality of New Jersey’s waterways and foster community-based environmental activities. They also empower residents to make responsible and informed decisions about their daily actions and how what happens on land affects local water bodies and larger watersheds.

Through their partnerships, field work and thousands of presentations, ambassadors engage the public in science, stewardship and education. Members increase public awareness about the impact of litter and non-point source pollution on water quality, as well as the need to reduce nutrient sources such as fertilizers from reaching local waters.

Ambassadors serve between September and July.

“It’s remarkable to see all that the ambassadors accomplish throughout their 10 months, engaging with New Jersey’s communities and providing stewardship opportunities,” DEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards Director Bruce Friedman said. “The program continues to establish strong partnerships within the environmental community. These relationships strengthen our communities and the ambassadors’ experience often leads to job opportunities after graduation.”

Since the inception of the program in 2000, nearly 400 individuals have been the DEP’s facilitators in the field, collecting water quality information, giving presentations on clean water and championing partnership projects in which the public help make a difference in their communities. Today, many former ambassadors are leaders in their communities serving in various roles both within as well as outside of government.

“The Watershed Ambassador program really nurtured me as a budding young scientist fresh out of college,” said Erin McCollum Strez, assistant director of science and stewardship at The Watershed Institute and a member of the 2007-2008 Ambassador class. “More than a decade after my term of service ended, I am fortunate enough to continue working with the (ambassador) program in a training role. I enjoy watching these talented ambassadors grow both professionally and personally throughout the year and I can’t wait to see what great things they accomplish next.”

Watershed Ambassador planting dune grass.

Ambassadors are required to complete 1,700 hours of service over 10 or 11 months. Compensation includes a pre-tax annual stipend of $13,732; eligibility for health insurance benefits while serving as an ambassador; subsidized childcare, if qualified; deferment of qualified student loans during service; and extensive training throughout the program year. In addition, members are eligible to receive an education award of $5,920 upon successful completion of the program.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a bachelor’s degree, valid driver’s license, and must have reliable transportation to get to and from field sites.

Interested applicants may apply to the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program through the national AmeriCorps site link at  http://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=89683&fromSearch=true