Raritan Headwaters awarded $20K grant toward river education programs

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BEDMINSTER TWP. – Thanks to a generous grant from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, more young people will get a chance to learn about the water in their rivers and streams, and how to tell if it’s clean.

J&J recently awarded Raritan Headwaters a $20,000 grant to extend the scope of its WaterWays and RiverFest environmental education programs, which are available to schools within the watershed’s region in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties.

Led by trained educators, our flagship WaterWays program has been teaching students about river ecology for more than 20 years through a combination of classroom and field experiences. The program fosters students’ appreciation for the natural world, creates a greater sense of stewardship for the environment and increases their understanding of how human behavior can impact natural systems.

To magnify the impact of these environmental education efforts, last year RHA launched RiverFest, a “festival in a box” that can be delivered to local schools. In a time of tight school budgets, not every district can send students on a field trip to learn ecological sciences. RiverFest is an affordable alternative to school districts and can be held indoors or outdoors, any time of year.

WaterWays and RiverFest will also provide professional development for educators, building their knowledge and enhancing their teaching practice around environmental education. This coming year Raritan Headwaters will connect with more than 120 educators, offering knowledge they can transmit to thousands of students.

“We’re so grateful to Johnson & Johnson for providing this grant,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based watershed watchdog group. “Environmental education is at the core of our mission as a water protection group, and we want to reach as many of the 90,000 school-age children in our region as possible to create the environmental stewards of the future.”

To learn more about the WaterWays and RiverFest programs, contact Lauren Theis, RHA’s director of education, at ltheis@raritanheadwaters.org or 908-234-1852 ext. 314.