Archive for January, 2013


January 9, 2013

Guest Post from Hugh Carola

Group seeks the best, brightest and greenest students in their watershed to apply

Hackensack, NJ – Hackensack Riverkeeper is now accepting applications for the 2013 Ron Vellekamp Environmental Scholarship. Now in its thirteenth year, the program was created in 2001 to support college-bound high school seniors who excel academically and who demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment.

There is one additional requirement 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 area. 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 will review each application. The panel will consider each 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.

“Last year we received eleven applications from all across our watershed,” explained Program Director Hugh Carola. “But the one submitted on behalf of Ms. Ariana Schanzer of Englewood by her faculty advisor at the Frisch School in Paramus was a real winner. She truly stood out from the rest and is now studying Bioengineering and Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Full scholarship application criteria are available online at 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, 2013. 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, Boy Scout leader, and 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.”