Educational support for the next generation of environmentalists is an important way we ensure that both parts of our mission – “Preserve Now – Protect Forever” – are accomplished. The foresight of our members and Trustees has enabled us to offer two scholarships each year to deserving college students planning environmental careers in their home state of New Jersey.
This year’s recipients of the Rogers Family Scholarship, Morgan Torstenson (pictured right) of Flanders-Mt. Olive, and the Russell W. Myers Scholarship, Sandeep Dhagat (pictured left) of Basking Ridge, exemplify academic excellence, leadership, and the spirit of volunteerism, all values of our organization. Morgan is a Geoscience major and Environmental Studies minor at Franklin and Marshall College. She plans to attend graduate school for geomorphology and hopes to work for an environmental consulting firm, assessing groundwater contamination and remediating polluted sites in New Jersey. “I consider pollution to be a top environmental issue,” Morgan explained, “because everyone should have access to clean water, soil, and air. There is a Superfund site in my hometown of Mt. Olive. I want to pursue a career in New Jersey environmental remediation because with an increasing population, the problem will only get worse.”
Sandeep is an Environmental Science and Biology major at Raritan Valley Community College. Having already graduated summa cum laude with associate degrees in Chemistry, Pre-Pharmacy, and Environmental Studies, he looks forward to continuing his education at Kean University next year. Both his work as a pharmacy technician and hours of volunteering at NJ’s Great Swamp have fueled his interest in the burgeoning field of environmental toxicology. Sandeep hopes to research the interface of human pharmaceutical drug use and biotic alteration of the environment, a critical challenge to both public and environmental health.
As a 2017 NJ Governor’s STEM Scholar, Sandeep led a team of five high school students in the development and testing of a new analytical device. Up against 14 other research projects led by college students from the state’s top public and private universities, his team won the symposium and their device is now in the patenting stage. Concurrently, at RVCC Sandeep worked with two peers to investigate stand-age at Sparta Mountain WMA, a site of intense debate over forest management practices. Sandeep’s draft paper won plaudits from members of the NJ Highlands Coalition and NJ Conservation Foundation.
“I am honored to be this year’s Russell W. Myers Scholarship recipient,” said Sandeep. “Although I hope to apply myself to the research and policy side of environmental issues, I intend to continually dedicate myself to the stewardship and maintenance of New Jersey’s forests through volunteer service.”