Incoming Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Catherine McCabe stressed the importance of clean water and touched on the issues affecting stormwater, dam removal, stream protections and pipelines at The Watershed Institute (formerly known as the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) April 23 annual meeting.
“We were thrilled to have the Commissioner speak at our meeting,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Institute. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the state to protect and restore clean water and a healthy environment.”
Waltman announced that the organization, formerly known as the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, was changing its name. He also shared the new logo to a crowd of about 155 attendees including board members, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders and staff.
McCabe has had a distinguished career in environmental law and science, serving 12 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and 22 years at the U.S. Department of Justice. As Gov. Phil Murphy’s nominee for commissioner, McCabe will play a central role in the state’s efforts to protect clean water and combat climate change.
The commissioner reaffirmed two pending grants that had been announced late last year. One grant will allow the Watershed to create and administer a statewide volunteer water-monitoring network. The second grant will enable Watershed staff to design and install green stormwater infrastructure within the Beden Brook Watershed.
The Watershed Institute also presented two awards; the first award went to a group of professional women from the Princeton area and the second award was given to two teachers from the Lawrence Township public schools.
Waltman presented the Edmund W. Stiles Award for Environmental Leadership to Kathleen Biggins and C-Change Conversation, a volunteer-led association committed to promoting non-partisan dialogue and education about climate change.
Education director Jeff Hoagland presented the Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education to two elementary school teachers, Jeanne Muzi of Lawrence Township’s Public Schools and Colleen Schantzer of Lawrence’s Ben Franklin Elementary School.
These two have run the Streamkeepers program since 2006 at the elementary school, allowing students to gather information, make observations and report details about the Little Shabakunk Creek behind their school. Two students also gave prepared remarks.
“Science education is best when you get your feet wet and your hands muddy,” said Muzi.