New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection honors Candace McKee Ashmun with its first Richard J. Sullivan Award at the 2018 Governor

NJ I-Bank and NJDEP Helping to Improve New Jersey's Infrastructure, One Project at a Time

From left to right: Tanya Oznowich, First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy, Renee Sullivan,
Candace McKee Ashmun and DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe

The 2018 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards were announced at a luncheon ceremony on Monday, December 10th. The program recognizes outstanding environmental performance for programs and projects in the State. On behalf of Governor Murphy, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner, Catherine McCabe presented eleven awards in nine categories. The Governor's Environmental Excellence Award Program is co-sponsored by the State of New Jersey, the DEP, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NCAT). The New Jersey State League of Municipalities and DEP's Environmental Stewardship Initiative provided promotional support.

The ceremony began with a special honor, as First Lady, Tammy Snyder Murphy, joined Commissioner McCabe and Master of Ceremonies David Zimmer, Executive Director of the I-Bank, to congratulate the current winners and emphasize the strides NJ is making to improve the environment both from grass roots up and from the State level down. The First Lady emphasized the importance of individual efforts as demonstrated by the award recipients toward achieving Governor Murphy's goal of NJ relying on 100% renewable energy by the year 2050.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of the first Richard J. Sullivan Award given to a New Jersey Resident who demonstrates exceptional leadership and outstanding accomplishment in environmental protection. On Earth Day April 22, 1970, Governor William Cahill created the Department of Environmental Protection within state government and appointed Richard J. Sullivan as its first Commissioner. This year the inaugural presentation went to Candace McKee Ashmun for her substantial accomplishments as an environmentalist and conservationist. Known for being a promoter of public events, an influential business woman, and a relationship builder who cultivates collaborations, her accomplishments include:

  • Founding member of the Pinelands Commission in 1979;
  • Executive Director and three-term president of the Association of New Jersey  Environmental Commissions, which she helped to establish;
  • Former member of the State Planning Commission;
  • Trustee on the Highlands Coalition; and
  • Vice Chair of the Board of the Fund for New Jersey.

The comparison of Candace McKee Ashmun receiving her award with 15-year old recipient, Puja Vengadasalam for student-led Environmental Education was striking as Commissioner McCabe pointed out, because this year's honorees spanned generations. While Ms. Ashmun's career as an environmentalist began years before Ms. Vengadasalam was born, the Student-Led Educator recipient's involvement in environmental advocacy is just beginning. With such a promising start at an early age, one could easily imagine Ms. Vengadasalam as a recipient of the Richard J. Sullivan Award at some future date. The eleventh-grade student and Girl Scout's passion for the environment led her to create "EcoCamp," a camp for children focusing on the environment and how to bring about positive changes through education. She devised simultaneous week-long EcoCamps for two different age groups (5-10 and 11-12). Using the STEAM education approach (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), Ecocamp is designed to turn youth participants into environmental specialists for life. EcoCamp workshops focused on various natural resources, pollution and how students could bring about change through reformed behaviors.

The theme of the luncheon was education and outreach. Although two of the awards focus specifically on both concepts, many of the other award recipients incorporated similar motivation throughout their projects, reflecting a common thread of success throughout the ceremony.

The award for Innovation Technology went to New Jersey American Water (NJAW) for developing a new water pipe monitoring technology that facilitates detection and repair of water leaks. The innovative leak monitoring system includes a network of acoustic sensors integrated into fire hydrants that continually listen to NJAW's pipe networks. The hydrant-mounted sensors identify noises due to leaks and compare them to noises received at two or more hydrants to determine the location of the leak. Instead of spending time looking for leaks, New Jersey American Water staff focus on managing leaks as they emerge. Since its installation in March 2016, the system has saved more than 1.1 billion gallons of water from being treated, pumped and then leaked into the environment. While announcing this astounding statistic, Mr. Zimmer put that amount into perspective for the audience, comparing it to the amount of water needed to fill approximately 42,000 swimming pools.

There was also a Certificate of Recognition for the New Jersey Charging Challenge: Electrify your Workplace presented to Raritan Valley Community College for installing two dual-port Level-2 charging stations in their primary parking lot. Consistent with other honorees, outreach and educational activities related to the new charging stations and electronic vehicles were conducted as well.

The I-Bank is proud to be a part of this exciting and educational annual event. The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards represent examples of the many positive environmental programs in New Jersey, bringing the State and local communities together to develop creative ideas, innovative designs, partnerships and promote education and outreach from school children to industry leaders all focused on enhancing our environment.

For more information, contact the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank at (609) 219-8600.

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