By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – The AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program application is currently open for the September 2023-2024 class. The Department of Environmental Protection’s Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said the program seeks to recruit 20 Ambassadors who embody the spirit of stewardship, specifically to create environmental career opportunities for young people and raise awareness for water concerns.
“When we empower others to protect the environment, we enhance the quality of life across New Jersey,” said Commissioner LaTourette.
The AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program launched in 2000 and has significantly evolved since. However, its main goal has stayed the same, to “promote watershed stewardship through education and direct community involvement, and monitor the health of our waterways through conducting stream assessments,” according to the Division of Water Monitoring and Standards within the Department of Environmental Protection.
Watershed Ambassadors serve as Source Water Protection Ambassadors in northern, central, and southern locations and work on outreach and education campaigns to protect drinking water sources—ambassadors are stationed along local host sites in 20 different Watershed Management Areas across the state.
“Ambassadors complement the work of the Division of Water Monitoring, Standards and Pesticide Control which allows an extended reach far into our communities, delivering educational presentations and engaging the public in various stewardship trainings,” said Division Director Vic Poretti. “Ambassadors contribute approximately 600 data sets of waterbody assessments conducted at freshwater streams throughout the state on an annual basis.”
To work as an Ambassador, applicants must commit to 1,700 hours of service over ten months and participate in an extensive training throughout the Program year. The Ambassador Program offers full-time and part-time positions.
Compensation is included in the Ambassador Program. There is an annual stipend of up to $25,000 for full-time and $13,235 for part-time jobs. Ambassadors are also eligible for an education award of up to $6,895 for full-time and up to $3,447,50 for part-time positions.
Additionally, Ambassadors are eligible for health insurance benefits, child care assistance, SNAP benefits, and deferment of qualified student loans throughout their service.
Ambassadors can occasionally return for a second term of their service within the Program. For example, Cameron Shapiro returns this year for a second term serving as a WaterShed Ambassador for the Maurice Salem and Cohansey Watershed with The Authority of Cumberland County in Millville.
“My term with the AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors has helped grow my confidence in important career skills like public speaking, data collection and analysis, and report writing,” said Shapiro. “The program also connected me with individuals in my field of study that I can look to for support during my career journey.”
Applications for the program are being accepted through August 31 or until all positions are filled. Interest applicants can click here to apply for full time and here to apply for part time. To learn more about eligibility for the program, click here. For any questions regarding the application process, email the Program Director, Amanda Baska, at Amanda.Baska@dep.nj.gov or call 609-633-1441.
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