The Raritan Valley Community College Foundation received a $300,000 gift from an anonymous donor to fund a first staff scientist for ecological research and restoration position at the college’s Center for Environmental Studies.
The center provides programs benefiting students and the larger community by offering opportunities to conduct research and engage in outreach efforts to address environmental concerns on campus and in the community.
“Philanthropic support has never been more important for community colleges, including RVCC,” Mike Marion, RVCC Foundation executive director, said. “This gift is not only a game-changer for the Center for Environmental Studies, but it also lights the path for others in our community who may wish to create their own impact at this exceptional college.”
The center is run by Jay Kelly, associate professor of biology and environmental science; and Emilie Stander, an associate professor of environmental science. The center provides opportunities for students to learn about protecting environmental and human health. Projects focus on such areas as water quality, forest health, sustainability, endangered species conservation and climate change.
Raritan Valley Community College hired Raritan Valley graduate Jessica Ray as its first staff scientist. Ray earned a degree from Rutgers University in ecology, evolution and national resources. She is responsible for coordinating and completing the center’s ecological research, restoration and stewardship projects.
Current initiatives focus on forest ecology, wildlife ecology and management, coastal ecology and conservation, and endangered plant species research and recovery. She will also be involved with grant writing; training student interns; data collection, analysis and reporting; developing curriculum and outreach materials; managing vegetation and environmental stewardship; and working with community partners.