ACUA is a proud host Agency for the NJDEP AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program (NJWAP).  Watershed Management Area 15 is home to the 55-mile long Great Egg Harbor River.  The watershed begins as a trickle in Camden County, flows through Atlantic County, and mixes with salt water in the Great Egg Harbor Bay, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. Watershed Ambassadors have 3 main roles (1) environmental education, (2) stream assessments, and (3) community-based projects.  Ambassadors serve for 10 months out of the year – September through July. 

The current 2022-2023 Watershed Ambassador for the Great Egg Harbor Watershed is Melissa Belen-Gonzalez. Melissa is from San Diego, CA and enjoyed her service as an ambassador so much during her 2021-2022 term, that she stayed for another 10-month term and became a Team Leader for the new cohort of ambassadors! Melissa graduated from San Diego State University in 2020 in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and spent much of her time studying salt marshes and organizing outreach. After graduating, she worked on Skidaway Island in Savannah, GA to pursue an education fellowship. Melissa’s favorite part of NJWAP is the variety of service she can complete. Her schedule allows for different tasks and types of work each week: some days are filled with field work and other days she can catch a break with office tasks.

Melissa is excited to give even more presentations and host even more community projects this term.  To schedule a visit from Melissa, please email her at
Here are a few programming options available, which can be tailored to any age or grade:
  • Enviroscape: Learn where our stormwater runoff goes and the differences between point v. non-point source pollution using a 3-D model of a watershed
  • Macroinvertebrates: See live or preserved macroinvertebrates, learn to identify them, and learn how these critters can teach us about water quality
  • Other hands-on presentations or lectures related to water: water cycle, the journey of water, weather & climate, water conservation, food waste & composting, microplastics, and Project WET related lessons
  • Salt marsh ecology, chromatography, seining at the beach, and coastal ecology guided hikes