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Front row: Aaron Watson, Jo Ann Groeger, Sam Frisby, Ryan Kennedy, Anthony Cucchi, Eleanor Horne, Dr. Zoubir Yazid, Dr. David Angweny Back Row: Dr. Rosetta Treece, Wanda McNeill, Nicole Langdo, Jim Simon, Ray Pinney, Dr. Mike Van Clef Jay Watson, Lisa Wolff, Romy Toussaint, Vanessa Sandom, Joann Held

The Mercer County Coalition for Environmental Equity & Inclusivity stands in solidarity with those publicly committing to racial justice and equality for our society. We grieve the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many more. These deaths and the disproportional impact of COVID-19 on black Americans cannot be met with silence.  

While violence and death is the ultimate sacrifice, a wider range of disadvantages continually impacts our communities of color due to systemic racism. Everyone must work together to effect change in the areas over which we have the most power.

Our group has been meeting for over a year to take action and champion equitable opportunities and programs at local parks and public lands that support quality of life issues. Racial justice includes access to not only environmental benefits like healthy air, water, and land, but also associated benefits including career opportunities, access to open space and fresh food sources.

We encourage everyone to heed the call to correct these injustices. The sooner we use our resources and our platforms to learn, share, and act, the sooner we will be able to partner with America’s communities of color to enact social and environmental good. 

Co-Chair Aaron Watson – Mercer County Park Commission.
Co-Chair Lisa Wolff – Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
Dr. David Angwenyi – Global Connections Foundation
Sam Frisby – County Freeholder & Capital Area YMCA
Tatiana Fulmer – The Sourland Conservancy
Jo Ann Groeger – Lawrence Township Board of Education & Mercer County School Board Association
Joann Held – Mercer County Sustainability Coalition 
Eleanor Horne 
Ryan Kennedy – Hopewell Borough Councilman & Hopewell Valley YMCA
Nicole Langdo – Painted Oak Nature School
Wanda McNeill – Mercer County Park Commission
Ray Pinney – New Jersey School Board Association
Amie Rukenstein
Vanessa Sandom
Jim Simon – ISLES
Dr. Rosetta Treece – Hopewell Valley Regional School District
Romy Toussaint – RomYoga
Dr. Michael Van Clef – Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
Jay Watson – New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Dr. Zoubir Yazid – Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County

Submitted by Mercer County Coalition for Environmental Equity & Inclusivity, which is comprised of the Mercer County Park Commission, local land trusts, service organizations, and school officials throughout Mercer County partnering to create experiences that inform and inspire people of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and income levels to enjoy nature and the outdoors. The Coalition pays special attention to removing barriers to participation. For more information, contact Lisa Wolff (lwolff@fohvos.org) or Aaron Watson (awatson@mercercounty.org).

Our activities not only encourage knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world, but also build a sense of stewardship for the environment and an understanding of the importance of preserved open space. In addition to promoting physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health, the programs and activities stimulate interest in the skills needed to develop careers in fields related to protecting the natural environment and encourage people to enjoy nature for personal and social benefit.

In fulfilling our mission “to create experiences that inform and inspire people of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels to enjoy nature and the outdoors,” there will be a greater return on the public’s investment in preserved open space, parks, and trails by increasing the number of and diversity of beneficiaries and the number of supporters and advocates.

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