They monitor streams for water quality, pick up trash and litter, plant trees, help out at summer nature camps, maintain trails, promote well testing, remove invasive plants, monitor bird nesting boxes and much more.
They’re volunteers for Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA), and a dozen of these good citizens were honored as outstanding volunteers of the year at RHA’s annual membership meeting on Feb. 22.
“We truly could not do the great work we’re accomplishing without the help of our dedicated volunteers,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director. “We’re so grateful to each one of them and thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
Those honored were:
Suzette “Suki” Dewey of Tewksbury Township, a volunteer and Board of Trustees member since 2000, was honored by having an award named for her. “The world needs more people like Suki,” said Ehrenclou, describing her as a passionate environmentalist who believes deeply in the possibility of a greener planet. “She rolls up her sleeves and digs in, we’ve been so lucky to have her.”
Ray Croot of Hillsborough Township, described as an “all-star volunteer,” received the first Suki Dewey Award. He is an excellent citizen scientist, testing over 5 sites throughout the year. He participates in our annual stream cleanup , has improved habitats at RHA nature preserves, served as a social media ambassador and helped with a host of other tasks. “When we need help, he comes running,” said Trish McGuire, volunteer coordinator. “He’s here at the drop of a dime.” He’s also a certified “River Friendly” resident and has installed a model rain garden in his town.
The Jacobs family of Bedminster Township is unique in that all six members – parents Mimi and Lawrence and children Jenna, Lia, Matthew and Thomas – have volunteered with RHA. Among their volunteer projects were Country Fair, bluebird monitoring and Nature Day Camp, as well as individual Girl Scout and Eagle Scout projects. “They’re a great family and we’ve been so lucky to have them as part of our watershed community,” said Lauren Theis, RHA’s education director.
Brian Lynch of Mine Hill is a stream monitoring volunteer for two sites, as well as a site coordinator for Raritan Headwaters’ annual stream cleanup. “Brian embodies the true spirit of volunteerism and is someone I can rely on,” said Angela Gorczyca, RHA’s water quality manager. Lynch also became a true “watershed watchdog” by alerted Raritan Headwaters after he noticed a company that was violating its water quality permits.
Robert Falcone of Long Valley is a longtime site coordinator for the stream cleanup, leading his scout group. “He puts his whole heart into trying to find the right site so his scouts have a fulfilling experience,” said Gorczyca. “Thank you, Robert, for inspiring another generation of scouts and leaders.”
Shana Goodchild, Land Use Administrator for Tewksbury Township and Roberta Brassard, Municipal Clerk for Tewksbury Township, were honored for their hard work in managing the Community Well Test Program in Tewksbury every fall. According to Mara Tippett, RHA’s well test manager, they “go above and beyond” their regular duties to help expand the well test program and improve public health. Goodchild is a resident of Bethlehem, Pa., while Brassard lives in Washington Township.
Morgan Stanley was honored as the corporate volunteer of the year, with volunteer coordinator Arun GunduRao singled out for his role in recruiting his co-workers. Over the course of three days last June, Morgan Stanley brought over 80 volunteers to help out with a variety of projects at RHA’s Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve in Bedminster and Fox Hill Preserve in Tewksbury. “When Morgan Stanley comes, we really get our money’s worth,” jokes George Schaberg, land projects manager for RHA.