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Weis, May H. Environmental Award

This award was started with a generous donation in May Weis’ memory by her son, Leonard W. Weis, Ph.D. It is a joint program between Ramapo and the New Weis Center (formerly the Weis Ecology Center) in Ringwood, New Jersey.

May Weis represented the Women’s Alliance of the American Ethical Union at the United Nations and always had an interest in the care of the environment. She created an endowment to preserve the land and buildings of the American Ethical Union’s conservancy in Ringwood, NJ, which was renamed the Weis Ecology Center in her honor.

“My mother was a graduate of Barnard College in 1912,” writes Dr. Weis. “She and my father always stressed that no one can ever take one’s education away, which is why it is so valuable.” Dr. Weis took this to heart and spent a career teaching at the University of Rhode Island, Coe College, Lawrence University and the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley. He retired after 36 years of active teaching in 1988, but continued his family’s tradition of sharing knowledge.

Dr. Weis passed away in May of 2011.

Recipients of the May Weis award participate in a paid internship at the New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation in Ringwood and receive a full tuition scholarship for one semester at Ramapo College. (Prior to applying, please review the requirements and responsibilities of the internship at


  • A letter of recommendation is required from a dean or faculty member
  • For a student interested in environmental education
  • Includes a tuition waiver, and paid internship
  • Selected by an outside committee

2024 Recipient

Alexa Hergenhan

Alexa Hergenhan of Nutley, N.J. is a Sustainability Science major with a minor in Psychology and holds a  3.7 GPA. Alexa has made the Dean’s List numerous times each semester. 

At Ramapo, Alexa is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Order of Omega, which is an honor society for members of fraternity and sorority organizations that recognizes leadership and academic excellence. She is also the president of Alpha Sigma Alpha,  the Vice President of Programming and Ritual, the secretary and character Princess Leia for A Moment of Magic, and an active member in 1Step.

Alexa’s goals are to continue learning about sustainability and the environment to help make a difference in the world and participate in organizations that are giving back to the planet. 

2022 Recipients

Veronica Klenk

Veronica Klenk of Franklin Lakes, N.J. is an Environmental Science major, and maintained a 3.93 GPA and was on the Dean’s List for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters.

At Ramapo, Veronica has been involved in several organizations, including the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, the RCNJ Birding Club, of which she is a founding member, and the Rock Climbing Club. She also works in the greenhouse on campus and has organized several volunteer events focused on teaching students gardening skills.

Veronica has also been involved in off-campus activities including volunteering with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the New York New Jersey Trail Conference. She is currently an intern at the New Weis Center in Ringwood, New Jersey, where she works as an environmental educator.

Olivia Trezza

Olivia Trezza of Flanders, N.J. is a Sustainability major with a 3.8 GPA. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. After working at Ort Farms for three years, she took an environmental science course that led to her appreciation and passion for environmental preservation.

At Ramapo, Olivia is the secretary for 1STEP, the event programmer for Garden Club, and is an officer for Ramapo Green. She also is a member of Ramapo’s chapter of the Sunrise Movement as well as the Empower N.J. Coalition and N.J. Food & Water Action, where she helps with their work towards stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure development in New Jersey.

Recently, Olivia interned for AMAST, an online wholesale construction marketplace, where she helped develop a sustainability road-map for vendors and contractors and assessed their commercial products using the LEED sustainability rating system. Her post-graduate plans are to pursue an environmental law degree or obtain a Ph.D. in sustainability and become a college professor.

2021 Recipients

Charlene Trippeda

Charlene Trippeda of Saddle Brook, N.J. is a sophomore Environmental Science major with a Plant Studies minor. She has a 3.74 GPA. She was on the Dean’s List for the school year of 2019-2020 and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Charlene has been active in several organizations and activities, including Ramapo Admissions Student Ambassadors, Leaders in Service and Peer Mentoring.

Mikayla Bivona

Mikayla Bivona of Sparta, N.J. is an Environmental Science major. She has a 3.79 GPA and has made the Dean’s List numerous times. Mikayla is dedicated to her studies and is on track to graduate a full semester early. “I have a passion for the outdoors, and I hope to ignite the same passion in others throughout my life,” she says. 

On campus, Mikayla participates in the Women’s Soccer team and the Sustainability Committee through SGA. She volunteers with Challenger Soccer, where she assists with special needs individuals, and the Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary. She is also an assistant coach for the girl’s varsity soccer team at Sparta High School. Through these experiences, Mikayla has learned teamwork, goal setting, patience and gratitude. 

When she is not studying or playing on the field, she is self-employed as a commissioned artist and photographer. Through her business, Mikayla has made charitable contributions to an animal rehabilitation and care facility. She plans on continuing her education toward a masters degree after graduation from Ramapo.

2020 Recipients

Alexandra Hapunik

Alexandra Hapunik of Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey is a Environmental Studies major and Biology minor. She has a 3.5 GPA and is a part of the 2020 Chil Alpha Sigma; Student-Athlete Honor Society. She is focused on furthering her education to become a marine scientist.
During her two years at Ramapo, Alexandra has been a starting defenseman on the Women’s Lacrosse Team. She has also been involved in campus clean-ups and has done work on the campus meadow. She has proved to have exceptional work ethic through her grades in the classroom and involvement on campus.
Alexandra has also been involved in off –campus activities and organizations, including the Normandy Beach Improvement Association as an Ocean Lifeguard and has taken part in beach clean-ups. This year she will be a four-year guard at Normandy Beach. Her recent joining in the Save Barnegat Bay organization has encouraged her to pursue Marine Science once she graduates from Ramapo College.

Anne Ortlieb

Anne Ortlieb of Mahwah, N.J. is an Environmental Science major with a GPA of 3.24. She found her passion for nature, agriculture and sustainability through her previous work and with her journey through environmental college courses. Anne has experience working at Secor Farms in Mahwah, N.J. and she has also been a summer camp counselor since 2014.

In his recommendation for Anne for this award, Professor Eric Wiener said, “Anne is one of those students who so clearly wants to make a positive, meaningful difference through her career and life.”

2016 Recipients

Andrew Herrera

Andrew Herrera of Lake Hiawatha, NJ is an Environmental Studies major.  He has a 3.9 GPA and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society.

At Ramapo, Andrew has been active in several organizations and activities, including the Alpha Psi Omega theater honor society as an actor, the Ramapo Admissions Student Ambassadors, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.  He is also president of the Ramapo College Culture Club.

John Curnyn

John Curnyn is an Environmental Studies major with a minor in Public Policy.

2013 Recipient

Geoff Richter

Geoff Richter is an Environmental Studies major who has earned a 3.36 grade point average and is in his senior year. In recommending Geoff for this award Professor Howard Horowitz wrote, “Geoff is an exceptionally well suited student — academically outstanding, a lover of nature and outdoor activities, and a cooperative worker with other people. He participated in my Forest Resources field trips to the Finger Lakes National Forest and the Delaware Water Gap NRA. He went to India last semester with the Ramapo College Study Abroad program, which is focused on issues of sustainability and justice.” Geoff is from Cherry Hill, NJ.

This scholarship, with its requisite position at theWeis Ecology Center, places a great deal of responsibility in my hands. I gained extensive knowledge of non-profit organizations and in environmental education.

2012, 2011 Recipient

Rachel Coviello

Rachel Coviello of Wayne, NJ graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing concentration. Currently a postbaccalaureate student in the Teacher Education program, Rachel worked full-time as an environmental educator at the Weis Ecology Center in Ringwood, NJ last summer. Rachel has always had an interest in critters and collecting rocks, she says. In high school she took AP Biology and AP Environmental Science. She’s been a teaching assistant at several environmental camps and programs and plans to teach science once she’s received certification. All of these experiences have made her comfortable teaching any age group. Rachel, who has a 3.91 grade point average, says, “I have developed valuable teaching skills such as communication, questioning and patience in combination with my own positive traits, enthusiasm, determination and organization.”

2010 Recipient

Kristen Tomasicchio

Kristen Tomasicchio is from Goshen, NY and is majoring in biology with a minor in environmental science. Kristen has earned a grade point average of 3.31. Her considerable experience with environmental education helped her become an effective member of the team at the Weis Ecology Center, where she interned as part of her scholarship award. Kristen has also worked at the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst, NJ as a cooperative education student and as a summer intern. She has been involved with the Literature Club and Beta Beta Beta, a biology honors fraternity. “I enjoy teaching children,” Kristen says, “and I believe I can help them realize their own love of science.”

This scholarship is given to one Ramapo student each year, in which I was able to spend my summer as an environmental educator at the Weis Ecology Center in Ringwood. This has given me the opportunity to see what I will need to improve upon and what strengths I have as I continue towards my career in environmental education.

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