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Celebrating Local Environmental Organizations

Apr 13, 2020

In honor of Earth Day, ACUA invites you to learn more about the many local environmental organizations working hard to protect Mother Nature. Many of the organizations listed below would have been present at our 30th Annual Earth Day Celebration originally scheduled for April 28 that was canceled due to the health crisis. Although the opportunity to meet with them in person has been delayed, you can still learn about their important work by visiting their websites:

Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)  
ANJEC provides tools, training and resources for NJ’s Municipal Environmental Commissioners and partners with other organizations to advocate for strong state and regional environmental policy. You don’t have to serve on a municipal board or commission to benefit from the incredible resources ANJEC provides. Visit their online library and sign up for ANJEC’s newsletter and Action Alerts.  

Atlantic Audubon Society 
Atlantic Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society which works preserve the natural environment for wildlife. Their website is a treasure trove of information for birders, but you don’t need to be an experienced birdwatcher to get involved. There are bird cams, migration maps and loads of informative articles and blog posts to dig into until their monthly meetings start up again.   

Atlantic City Aquarium 
The AC Aquarium located in Gardeners Basin section of Atlantic City offers incredible sea life and animal exhibits. While we can’t visit them in person now, you can learn a lot about from home and plan for a future visit to this amazing local resource! 

Atlantic City Electric  
Atlantic City Electric has been a generous supporter of ACUA’s Earth Day festival as a platinum sponsor for many years. You know Atlantic City Electric as a utility company and energy provider, but did you know about all the programs and protections they have in place to protect the environment? From protecting avian species, to resource conservation, protecting natural habitats, to preserving wetlands and implementing impactful corporate recycling initiatives, Atlantic City Electric is doing a lot to help our local environment. ACE supports so many great community projects and their employees are superstar volunteers!  

Atlantic County Master Gardeners
Do you have a garden question, need a soil test? Reach out to our County Extension Office’s Master Gardener program. While the offices are closed, take a look at gardening FAQs and other helpful resources posted online . Check acua.com for updates on our monthly Garden Talks. We are hoping to offer talks online until it’s safe to hold them in person.  

Atlantic County Master Composters  
ACUA and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service partnered to offer the Atlantic County Master Composters training program. Our trained volunteers are available to share their compost knowledge. Reach out to learn more – composting is easier than you might think!  

Cape Atlantic Soil Conservation District   
Dedicated to the conservation of natural resources in Atlantic and Cape May Counties, this organization offers a variety of programs to protect our soil and water with programs to mitigate soil erosion, to control sediment on construction sites and to preserve farmland.  In addition to educational programs for kids, the District also provides important technical resources and help with questions regarding natural resource conservation. 

Clean Ocean Action (COA) 
COA is a national organization located in Long Branch, NJ that works to protect waterways using science, law, research, education, and citizen action to improve water quality. COA leads beach sweeps and educational efforts to address pollution and educates citizens to take an active role in shaping public policy that will help to clean up and protect our ocean.   

Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association    
Did you know how special the Great Egg Harbor River Watershed is? Many people don’t, but thankfully, the Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association is working to promote research and action to protect our local river system. GEHWA works tirelessly to raise awareness and appreciation of the watershed’s many valuable and unique resources.  

Growing Green Atlanticare   
AtlantiCare is all about the health of our community and their Growing Green program works to addresses root causes of chronic disease by providing more access to fresh, local produce. Among other things, Growing Green provides grants and support to create and sustain community and school gardens. These gardens grow healthy, sustainable foods and are complemented by wellness and nutrition programming. This initiative has helped build 72 school gardens and 35 community gardens in Southeastern New Jersey, collectively benefiting the students and members of our community.  

Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve  
Located in Tuckerton, JCNERR is part of a National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) that includes 29 reserves around the country that protect the important areas along our coasts where rivers meet the sea and fresh and saltwater mix to create unique, productive ecosystems called estuaries. JC NERR is one of the 2 national estuarine reserves created to promote the responsible use and management of the nation's estuaries through a program combining scientific research, education, and stewardship. Learn more about this who lives in the estuary!  

Marine Mammal Stranding Center   
Located in Brigantine, NJ, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center has responded to over 5,100 strandings of whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that have washed ashore in New Jersey over the past 40 years. Learn more about their incredible work and the educational programs they offer.  

Native Plant Society of NJ & the Southeastern Chapter serving Atlantic and Cape May Counties
Learn about the importance of native plants with local experts and speakers. Our local chapter meets monthly at Stockton University. Check out the great resources on the home page for the State Organization. 

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) 
This Federal Agency, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, has local offices and provides technical and financial support, education and services to help support local agriculture. You don’t need to be a farmer to benefit from the information they provide. Check out their extensive resources on Soils and the Plants Database 

 NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)  
The NJDEP has the huge job of protecting all aspects of our state’s environment and natural resources. Their programs cover so many areas, it’s impossible to provide a good summary in a few short sentences. Whether you are interested in learning more about climate changecoastal flooding and resilienceelectric vehiclesrecycling and wasteoffshore wind  - you’ll find facts and information about these and many more topics on the DEP website. Get familiar with the NJDEP’s GeoWeb interactive mapping application and you’ll be able to dive deep to investigate important environmental issues such as water allocation and contaminated sites.  

NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife  
The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is an agency that falls under the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. This agency provides information on all aspects of hunting and fishing and wildlife management. There are videosteacher resources (including NJ wildlife coloring pages!) and a comprehensive list of links to connect you to more!  

NJ Mycological Association  
Curious about mushrooms? This non-profit organization brings people together to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and common interests regarding fungi. If you would like to know more about mushrooms and fungi, the NJ Mycological Association provides information and educational materials, hosts forays, photo contests and many other events. Their website has loads of information including links to more resources as well as to their informative newsletters!    

NJ Water Environment Federation Association  
The New Jersey Water Environment Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water environment. WEA was founded way back in 1915, making it the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. Its members include engineers, utility operators, scientists, students and other professionals. the NJWEA offers a variety of trainings as well as scholarships and support for young people embarking on careers in the water and wastewater treatment.  

NJ Watershed Ambassador Program  
The NJ Watershed Ambassador Program is an AmeriCorps service program administered by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, and they are here to help the community in its time of need!  There are currently 18 Watershed Ambassadors serving throughout the state. You can find your local Watershed Ambassador here. ACUA is proud to participate in this amazing program and currently hosts Watershed Ambassador Lisa Schroeder. Lisa serves the majority of Atlantic County and can be contacted by email at wma15@acua.com.  

Watershed Ambassadors provide education to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our watersheds. Ambassadors normally work with students and community groups providing education and leading workshops like the Rain Barrel workshop Lisa and her fellow ambassador Daniel DeRosier conducted with ACUA in February. In addition, Ambassadors do fieldwork like stream monitoring and assessment.   

The current health crisis has not stopped them from providing assistance. These dedicated environmental leaders are ready to work with anyone looking for virtual presentations or educational materials on topics such as watersheds, water conservation, stormwater management, and more! 

The Watershed Ambassadors are also working together to compile a list of virtual environmental education resources. This document is under construction but can still be viewed here.   

Pinelands Preservation Alliance   
PPA’s mission it to preserve our beautiful, unique Pine Barrens ecosystem. To do this, PPA works to raise public awareness of the values of Pinelands resources and issues threatening it and to advance permanent acquisition of land and development rights by conservation agencies. 

While there’s nothing better than experiencing the Pinelands in person, PPA offers videos and lots of great information on their website, including culture, history and folklore in addition to other science based information on this incredible ecosystem right in our backyards. 

ReClam the Bay  
Part of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, ReClam the Bay grows and maintains millions of baby clams and oysters in the Barnegat Bay Watershed.  This local, non-profit environmental organization is involved with research and promotes environmental education. Have you been on the Clam Trail? Explore the estuary and have fun following the Trail visiting the 30+ giant decorated clams (over 5 ft. high) and Fact Plaques along the trail.    

Rutgers Environmental Stewards   
ACUA is proud to be one of the locations across the state to offer this award-winning training program designed to empower people to make positive change in their communities. Designed for the non-scientist, this 20-week program introduces participants to a wide variety of environmental topics and issues with presentations from local and regional academic, environmental and governmental leaders and experts. Participants earn their certification as a Rutgers Environmental Steward by completing an internship project that matches their skills and passion. Our stewards have done some amazing things! Volunteers have helped Green Teams complete projects so don’t hesitate to reach out if your Green Team or Environmental Commission has a project our Stewards may be able to assist with!    

South Jersey Electric Vehicle Club Public Facebook Group  
This group of EV owners and others interested in Electric Vehicles provides information through their Facebook Group. If you have questions about owning and driving an electric vehicle, this is the place to go to learn from people who have firsthand knowledge and experience. 

Surfrider is a national organization made up of a community of people who are passionate about protecting the ocean, waves, and beaches that provide us so much enjoyment.  The South Jersey Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is actively working on a variety of projects. In addition to including ongoing cleanups, South Jersey Surfriders have led many successful efforts to reduce the impact of single use plastics such as plastic bag bans and stopping the intentional release of balloons. Their well-informed volunteers are available to assist other towns that are looking to implement these projects too. Look for Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant certification to know your local eatery is taking important steps to protect ocean resources.   

Sustainable Jersey 
Sustainable Jersey is a statewide certification program for Municipalities, and also for Schools. In Atlantic County, 21 of our 23 towns are participating in the municipal program, with 12 towns having earned certification by completing actions from categories that range from Energy and Natural Resources to Health and Wellness and Art and Creative Culture. Sustainability, after all, encompasses so much! 

Sustainable Jersey’s website provides a wealth of resources for Green Teams, from sample ordinances to “spotlight” features that showcase successful models for each action as well as webinars on a variety of timely topics. Sustainable Jersey also supports the organization of regional “Hubs” to bring people from nearby communities together to share information and to help each other achieve their goals. In our area, the Atlantic Cape May County Hub is available to help!   

Wetlands Institute  
Located in Stone Harbor, NJ, the Wetlands Institute is a nonprofit focused on promoting appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of coastal and wetland ecosystems through researchconservation, and education. Wetlands are incredibly important ecosystems, and the Wetlands Institute works tirelessly to restore and protect wetlands. Their research and conservation efforts include studying and conserving diamondback terrapinshorseshoe crabs, shorebirds, and the plants that grow and stabilize the marsh. Wetlands Institute's scientists are testing methods to address impacts of sea level rise and to protect the island from storm surges and flooding.  

The Wetlands Institute's programs help kids discover the wonders of our environment and to develop a science-based understanding of the coastal ecosystem. We are so fortunate to have this world-class research, conservation and education facility right here in our backyard. Check out their livecams and sign up for their newsletter to stay informed!   

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge  
Woodford Cedar Run includes the Woodford Nature Center, a Wildlife Housing Area with nearly 60 native residents, and a Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital that sees more than 5,000 wild animals each year. Cedar Run serves as a community resource on the importance of protecting and enhancing healthy ecosystems for all.  Cedar Run has great information to provide guidance if you find an animal in need. Even though their Medford location is closed to the public and you’ll miss their great display at Earth Day this year, you’ve got to check out their YouTube Channel and their Facebook page where you can check out  their live-stream “Tails at Two” (weekdays at 2PM) where educators, volunteers, and rehab staff give you a glimpse into the refuge.