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2014 Ron Vellekamp Environmental Scholarship

Hackensack Riverkeeper seeks the best, brightest and greenest applicants

Hackensack Riverkeeper is accepting applications for the 2014 RON VELLEKAMP ENVIRONMENTAL SCHOLARSHIP. Now in its fourteenth year, the program was created to support college-bound high school seniors who excel academically while demonstrating a strong commitment to the natural world and environmental protection.


There is one special requirement that all applicants must meet in order to be considered for the award: all who apply must either live within the 210-square mile Hackensack River Watershed; or attend a school located within that region. All told, seniors at sixty-six high schools in Bergen, Hudson and Rockland Counties are eligible to apply.

Teachers and guidance counselors are invited to submit applications on behalf of deserving students; and each school may nominate one student. A panel of Hackensack Riverkeeper Trustees and staffers led by Captain Bill Sheehan and Program Director Hugh Carola will review each application. The panel will consider the applicant’s academic achievements, environmental extra-curricular activities and future plans. The $1000 Scholarship is unrestricted and can be used for any required purchases during the student’s first year at college.

“We received only two applications last year but both were stellar – which made for an extremely tough decision-making process,” explained Carola. “After a lot of back-and-forth between panelists, Ms. Maya Kates of Cresskill was chosen as our 2013 winner. She is now engaged in a specialized environmental curriculum at Connecticut College in New London, CT.”

Full scholarship application criteria are available online at www.hackensackriverkeeper.org or by calling 201-968-0808. A list of all watershed municipalities is available on the Links page of the Website. For those residing in bi-watershed communities like Jersey City, Paramus or Ramapo some additional sleuthing (or a phone call to scholarship administrator Carola) is necessary to determine a student’s eligibility.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Earth Day, April 22, 2014. The winner will be chosen no later than June 1.

The late Ronald Vellekamp was a science teacher in Ridgefield, New Jersey. During his life he also served as a Palisades Interstate Park ranger and Boy Scout leader; and was a founding trustee of Hackensack Riverkeeper. The scholarship that bears his name is fitting tribute to an educator whose life was lived in the service of others.

“One of the many things I learned from Ron during the all-too-short time he was with us was that you should never let a teachable moment pass by,” said Capt. Sheehan. “That’s something that I, Captain Hugh and the rest of our staff both understand and live by every single day.”

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