The Watershed Institute’s 2024 Award Winners

The Watershed Institute's 2024 Award Winners

The 2024 Edmund W. Stiles Award for Environmental Leadership

The Watershed Institute’s Edmund W. Stiles Award for Environmental Leadership is awarded to a community leader who demonstrates outstanding leadership, dedication, and passion in advancing the cause of environmental protection and stewardship. The award is presented in honor of the late Edmund W. (Ted) Stiles, Professor of Ecology at Rutgers University. Among numerous leadership roles, Ted served on the Watershed’s Board of Trustees from 1991-2004, as Board Chair from 1994-1997, and as a member of our Advisory Board until his passing. This year, we are thrilled to honor Annette Loveless and Shereyl Snider with this prestigious award.  

Annette Loveless 

Annette’s dedication to local land use issues is deeply ingrained in her family’s heritage of conservation. Born into a family of naturalists, her great-grandfather’s legacy as one of the first NJ Fish and Game Wardens inspired her lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship. Growing up working on her family’s tree farm, now formally conserved as “The Loveless Nature Preserve,” Annette developed a profound connection to the land and its preservation.  

After earning her BS from St. Joseph’s University and conducting research at Temple University, Annette accumulated over three decades of experience in school and business management and administration. Her professional journey led her from managing and developing private schools in Philadelphia to serving as the Lab Manager at UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab (RAEL), collaborating with graduate students and scientists worldwide. 

Transitioning to public service, Annette now holds the position of Program Specialist in Public Land Administration at the NJDEP. Her role extends beyond the office as she actively engages in environmental advocacy within her community. As Chair of the Lawrence Township Environmental and Green Advisory Committee and a member of the Planning Board and Master Plan Subcommittee, Annette champions sustainable practices and policies at the local level. In 2023, she received the Lawrence Township Citizen of the Year Award in Leadership. 

Annette’s dedication to environmental advocacy blossomed through her participation in the Rutgers Environmental Stewardship Program, where she first encountered The Watershed Institute. Inspired by a class taught by Steve Tuorto, the Watershed’s Science Director, she embarked on a journey of advocacy and education on water issues. This led her to join the first cohort of the Watershed Institute’s Community Watershed Advocacy Program where she continues to serve as a mentor.  

As a Rutgers Green Infrastructure Champion and Watershed Streamwatch volunteer, Annette actively contributes to water quality monitoring efforts. She continues to participate in the Chemical, Biological, and Bacterial Action Teams and Saltwater Watch and to recruit new citizen scientists.  

Annette will utilize her training from the Watershed’s recent Restoration Academy for Water Professionals to enhance her education and outreach initiatives, including site plan reviews, policy suggestions, presentations, and hands-on projects with students of all ages. 

Currently, Annette is leading a bioengineering project aimed at addressing streambank erosion, highlighting her commitment to practical, science-based solutions. Her philosophy embodies a comprehensive land ethic that extends beyond human communities to encompass the entire ecosystem. By employing interdisciplinary research and data-driven approaches, Annette strives to improve the quality of real-world situations and advocate for the well-being of all living beings. 

 Shereyl Snider  

Shereyl Snider, a dedicated community organizer, has been an integral part of the Urban Promise, Trenton/East Trenton Collaborative since 2019. She is the lead advocate at the Trenton Lead-Free NJ community hub and is a member of the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force and Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign.  

Trenton has the highest percentage of childhood lead exposure among large municipalities in New Jersey. Residents of Trenton face numerous exposures to lead, constituting an ongoing environmental injustice. Children and adults may be exposed to lead from paint chips, dust indoors and outside, drinking water from pipes and fittings, soil contamination, vintage toys or drinkware, imported jewelry, makeup and more. Once exposed, lead builds up in bones, so exposures from multiple sources can accumulate to a significant amount of lead in the body. Shereyl is a key part of galvanizing efforts to eliminate lead poisoning in Trenton.  

Shereyl has worked with The Watershed Institute to connect the residents of Trenton to our programming, organizing community outings to outings to our Reserve and partnering to offer East Trenton residents programs like the Trenton Community Watershed Advocate Program. Ms. Snider brings a deep-rooted commitment to her role. She is a natural connector, and brings her wide smile and contagious enthusiasm to every meeting. 

Beyond her professional commitments, Ms. Snider is an active member of Galilee Baptist Church, where her contributions extend to her role as a choir member and President of the Missionary Ministry. 

In recognition of her exemplary service and unwavering dedication to community betterment, the Watershed Institute is honored to present Ms. Shereyl Snider with the prestigious Edmund W. Stiles Award. 

The Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education 

The Watershed Institute’s Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education is awarded annually to an area teacher who demonstrates a high level of enthusiasm and commitment to environmental education in their classroom. This award is in honor of the late Richard Rotter, an exceptional high school teacher in Montgomery who was also a committed environmentalist in his own community. Richard engaged his students in thoughtful investigations in the forest and wetlands behind the new high school in Montgomery. He incorporated biological and chemical sampling of streams into his science classes. He sought and delivered environmental lessons that both stimulated and challenged his students, immersing them into their local environment, and inspiring them about the natural world around them. 

This year Jeanne Muzi and Steve Laubach will be honored with the Richard Rotter Award for their outstanding work in developing the “Together We Can – Green Partnership” program with The Watershed Institute. This innovative program is designed to empower students from The Lawrenceville School to become environmental educators, as they are trained by Watershed Institute staff to instruct students at Slackwood Elementary School. 

What makes this initiative truly remarkable is its ripple effect: the knowledge and awareness gained by Slackwood students are passed on to their families and community, fostering a culture of environmental stewardship beyond the school walls. The program’s emphasis on cascading learning ensures that environmental education extends far beyond the classroom, creating a sustainable impact on the broader community. 

With its unique approach and tangible outcomes, the “Together We Can – Green Partnership” program can serve as a model for other communities interested in implementing similar initiatives. By nurturing collaboration between schools, environmental organizations, and community members, this program demonstrates the transformative power of collective action in addressing environmental challenges and fostering a culture of sustainability. 

Jeanne Muzi

We are thrilled to announce that Muzi, the 2008 New Jersey Teacher of the Year, a NOAA Teacher at Sea in 2015, and an esteemed educator with 16 years of dedicated service in the Lawrence Township school district, will be honored with the Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. 

Muzi’s innovative teaching approach is exemplified by her groundbreaking “4 Seasons Outdoor Learning Lab.” This visionary project aims to transform underused land on the Slackwood campus into a dynamic, flexible space. The Outdoor Learning Lab will feature an outdoor classroom, native plant garden, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) stroll, butterfly garden, inspirational arts activities, and environmental stations. These customizable spaces will provide K-3 students with hands-on, outdoor learning experiences designed to encourage creative problem-solving and strengthen cross-curricular critical thinking. Beyond academic enrichment, Muzi’s initiative also aims to promote students’ social-emotional competencies and enhance overall wellness. 

Throughout her career, Muzi has been an integral part of the Slackwood Elementary School community, collaborating closely with students, teachers, and parents. Her dedication to education, commitment to environmental stewardship, and experience as a NOAA Teacher at Sea make her a deserving recipient of the Richard Rotter Award. 

A graduate of Eisenhower College of Rochester Institute of Technology, Muzi holds a bachelor’s degree in art. She furthered her academic credentials by earning a teaching certificate from Rider University and a principal’s certification from the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association through the New Jersey Excel program. 

The Richard Rotter Award recognizes Muzi’s outstanding contributions to environmental education and her innovative approach to teaching. Please join us in congratulating Muzi on this well-deserved honor!

Stephen Laubach 

We are delighted to announce that Stephen Laubach, the Director of Sustainability and Science Teacher at The Lawrenceville School, will be honored with the Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. 

Stephen Laubach is a dedicated advocate for environmental education and sustainability, with a rich tapestry of experiences that weave together both local and global contexts. At The Lawrenceville School, he serves as the Director of Sustainability and Science Teacher, guiding students through subjects such as ecology, biology, environmental science, and sustainability. His teaching extends beyond the classroom, as he actively immerses students in experiential learning through trips to renowned ecological sites worldwide, including the Aldo Leopold Reserve in Wisconsin, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Italy, and Iceland. 

In addition to his role at Lawrenceville, Steve contributes his expertise as a Board Member of the Lawrence Township Anne Demarais Nature Center and OASIS NJ, showcasing his dedication to community-based environmental initiatives. His commitment to environmental stewardship extends to his authorship of “Living a Land Ethic: A History of Cooperative Conservation on the Leopold Memorial Reserve,” offering valuable insights into the intersection of conservation and community engagement. 

Steve’s involvement in the Earth Partnership program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum underscores his passion for fostering sustainable practices at the grassroots level. Through teacher professional development and collaborative projects with Native Nations, he integrates indigenous wisdom with scientific knowledge to enrich environmental education efforts. 

His international experiences, including serving as a Teaching Assistant in Costa Rica and guiding at the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, reflect his dedication to global environmental awareness and cross-cultural learning. Furthermore, his internship at the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee solidifies his hands-on experience in environmental conservation and education. 

Steve’s multifaceted involvement across various organizations and initiatives, such as the “Together We Can” Green Partnership, highlights his belief in the power of community engagement for environmental stewardship. It is with great pleasure that we announce Stephen Laubach as the recipient of the Richard Rotter Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. His commitment to sustainability and education aligns perfectly with Lawrenceville’s mission, as he continues to prepare students for meaningful contributions to society through innovative environmental education initiatives. Please join us in congratulating Stephen Laubach on this well-deserved honor! 

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