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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)December 3, 2003

(Mahwah) – Ramapo College of New Jersey and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission are continuing their collaborative effort to develop a comprehensive environment education program for the Meadowlands Environment Center. The College and the Commission are working toward educating teachers and children about using the environment as a classroom, learning about the important resources of the Meadowlands and helping communities recognize critical issues that affect the Meadowlands area.

The Center has always had K-12 educational programming,” notes Dr. Angela Cristini, a professor of biology at Ramapo and director of its master’s program in science and education technology. We’ve expanded and improved on what was already in place.” The Environment Center, which encompasses more than 19,000 acres bordering 14 municipalities, is located in Lyndhurst.

Cristini’s vision is clear: to create the premier environmental education center on the east coast. The Meadowlands Environment Center is an important facility for teaching children – and their parents, teachers and communities – about the importance of protecting the rich environment of the Meadowlands,” she says.

To help achieve the objectives of the partnership, Cristini, who heads the effort on behalf of Ramapo, hired Dr. Victoria Madden, a science supervisor for the Paterson school district and a professor of education at William Paterson College, as project manager. Kristen Deckert, a science teacher in the River Edge school district and an education program designer for the New York Aquarium, was hired as an educational coordinator to run the day-to-day aspects of the project. The professor and her staff reviewed the content of the programs and revised them to ensure compliance with New Jersey’s education core curriculum content standards, making them more adaptable to each grade level’s science instruction.

One goal of the collaborative effort is to increase the number of students, teachers and citizens the Center reaches with its educational environmental messages. We want to reach out to special needs students in the state’s Abbott districts,” Cristini says, particularly Paterson, Newark and Jersey City.” In addition to community outreach, professional development courses are offered to teachers at either the Environment Center or at area schools. Teachers may also work toward Ramapo’s master’s degree in educational technology at the Center.

This arrangement also involves Ramapo faculty and students in the Meadowlands through undergraduate courses, a post-baccalaureate fellow position that allows a Ramapo graduate to work at the Center for a year and cooperative education opportunities,” says Cristini.

Another goal is to offer programs at schools, libraries and nursing homes. The Ramapo College Foundation has procured the donation of a Ford Windstar van from the Hertz Rental Corporation. This Marsh Mobile” will allow staff to take the educational programs on the road.

Cristini is applying for two National Science Foundation grants. One, an Informal Science Education grant, would allow the Environment Center to reach senior citizens with programs about aquatic environments, the history and development of the Meadowlands, marsh ecosystems and trash and waste management. This would be achieved through live videoconferencing with area senior citizen groups, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Another grant application seeks funds to create a two-week institute in the summer for teachers and students. During the school year, the emphasis would be on infusing technology into the curriculum and applying it to environmental issues, health issues and emergency preparedness.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, home of the Meadowlands Education Center, has created public parks and recreation facilities in the Meadowlands for the past 25 years. The Commission is empowered with regional planning and zoning authority to ensure the environmental protection and enhancement of the Meadowlands area.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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