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EPA Honors Work of Exceptional New Jersey Environmental Leaders

Release Date: 04/23/2014
Contact Information: Mary Mears (212) 637-3673,

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored four individuals and organizations from across New Jersey with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck presented the awards at a ceremony at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Michelle DePass, former Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs and currently Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City, delivered the keynote address.

      “Today we celebrate the exemplary work of people who work tirelessly to protect the environment and give their time and energy to create a cleaner and healthier future for us all,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Their extraordinary contributions serve as an inspiration to all who strive for a more sustainable environmental future.”

      The EPA presents Environmental Quality Awards annually during Earth Week to individuals, businesses, government agencies, environmental and community-based organizations and members of the media in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized Indian Nations. The awards recognize significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in the previous calendar year. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, visit

      The Environmental Quality Award winners from New Jersey (in alphabetical order) are:

      Jessica Franzini
      New Jersey Tree Foundation
      Jessica Franzini is Program Director for the New Jersey Tree Foundation's Urban Airshed Reforestation Program. She directs the foundation’s tree planting program and facilitates the Camden Tree Keepers Workshop series. Since 2002, the program has planted over 4,000 trees and removed 65,000 sq. ft. of impervious cover, helping to ease the strain on stormwater management. She is also a member of the Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training Team, a group that has installed 20 rain gardens in Camden, capturing approximately two million gallons of rainwater annually.

      Hackensack Riverkeeper
      Hackensack Riverkeeper runs Eco-Programs all year that have proven highly successful in attracting thousands of people to the Hackensack River. During 2013, the Hackensack Riverkeeper’s Eco-Programs provided nearly 7,000 people with a mixture of environmental education and recreational opportunities on the river and empowered them to become active participants in preservation through widely attended volunteer river cleanup events. The Eco-Cruise program, which invites visitors to tour the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers and Newark Bay, alone attracted 3,470 people this past year.

      Ironbound Community Corporation
      Since 1969, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) has worked to create a healthy and sustainable environment in one of Newark’s culturally rich neighborhoods. The ICC offers environmental justice tours, monitors air quality in New Jersey’s largest city and organizes an active community to speak out for environmental protection. An integral member of the Passaic River Superfund site Community Advisory Group, the ICC is committed to improving public health and monitoring environmental quality in the Ironbound community.

      Captain Alek Modjeski
      American Littoral Society
      When Hurricane Sandy hit Bradley Beach in New Jersey, the storm surge deposited tons of beach sand on a gravel lot and nearby Fletcher Lake. It was clear to coastal ecologist Captain Al Modjeski that restoring the lot to its natural state and planting native trees and vegetation would act as a buffer between the next storm surge and the lake. Al helped round up multiple agencies, NGOs and volunteers to return the gravel lot to its natural state and last September more than 100 people chipped in time and energy to install the Bradley Beach Maritime Forest.

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