citizen scientists collecting samples

Citizen Science

As a part of our mission to empower residents of New Jersey to protect aquatic ecosystems and water resources, the New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology (NJCWST) trained 5 teams of 33 Citizen Scientists to participate in the Traveling HAB Lab program funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These 32 citizen scientists have been actively monitoring water quality and harmful algal blooms in their selected waterbodies to safeguard their communities. Each individual had the opportunity to choose their role within their team (field sampler, phytoplankton analyst, or data manager) and were provided with the necessary tools to successfully accomplish their role duties.

We would like to thank all Citizen Scientists that have participated in our 2023 Citizen Science Program. Our team at NJCWST is truly impressed by how much time, effort, and dedication each team member has committed to this program.

Meet our Citizen Science teams below!

Lake Owassa Community Association of Sussex County
Lake Owassa Community Association of Sussex County group photo

Lake Owassa Community Association of Sussex County Website

The Lake Owassa of Sussex County team monitored five sites at Lake Owassa in Frankford Township, Sussex County as part of the Traveling HAB Lab- Citizen Science Program.

Team Members

Heather Ronco
Tom Mangan
Deb Dimattia
Gary Pomeroy

“The training, guidance and loaner equipment we’ve received from NJCWST have allowed us to truly become citizen scientists! We can accurately assess the health of our lake and keep our community informed. Our goal is to not only identify emerging Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) but to also work with our community to minimize the inflow of nutrients that cause HABs. We fly a blue flag from the boat when we are conducting water monitoring to raise awareness. We are sharing our knowledge, answering questions and oftentimes alleviating concerns such as identifying algae vs aquatic plants.”

Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA)
Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) group photo

Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) Website

The Musconetcong Watershed Association team monitored seven sites as part of the Traveling HAB Lab/Citizen Science Program: two at Lake Musconetcong in Morris County, one at Lake Musconetcong in Sussex County, two at Saxton Lake in Warren County, one at Cranberry Lake in Sussex County, and one at Jefferson Lake in Sussex County.

Team Members

Christa Reeves
Craig Fleming
Ellen Pehek
Ellen is an Ecologist with over 25 years of experience conducting ecological surveys, conservation-oriented research and protection work in natural areas. Ellen received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rutgers University, with a thesis on amphibian community ecology. She worked for federal and state wildlife and land management agencies as well as conservation non-profits in New Jersey, Oregon, Arizona and Texas before spending 21 years at NYC Parks & Recreation’s Natural Resources Group as a Wildlife Biologist and Research Ecologist. During this time Ellen studied and strove to protect the many ecosystems found in New York City, including salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, streams, forests and meadows.
Carla Rodrigo
Samantha Johnson
Samantha is a resident and teacher in Hackettstown and started her environmental interest with River Watchers as a student at Centenary University. She was hired as the Field Specialist for a year before leaving to finish her teaching certification and is still involved with the MWA as a River Watcher and camp counselor for Camp Musky.
Tiffany Bai
Tiffany lives in Clinton NJ and has been a River Watcher for almost 3 years. She helps with macroinvertebrate collections, habitat assessments and HAB monitoring.
Ryan Jiorle
Michael DuFour
Living in Franklin (Warren), NJ along Pohatcong Creek Michael sees the impact humans have on that natural resource. Working with MWA and Montclair State University allows me to look closer, under a microscope, where the team can research possible human involvement in (and future mitigation of) harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the Musky and beyond.
Michael Ricketts
Michael, a retired science teacher, resides in Union Twp (in the Raritan watershed). First connected with MWA on a Musconetcong kayak trip a long time ago (12 or more years ago with Beth S-B). Volunteer with both MWA and Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) because of interest in the outdoor environment. An extra benefit from volunteering is meeting people and making good friends who care about the environment.
Bill McQuide
Bill is a retired resident of Hampton concerned about preserving and improving the water quality of the Musconetcong River. He has been a River Watcher for the last 3 years
New Jersey Highlands Council (NJHC)
New Jersey Highlands Council (NJHC) group photo

New Jersey Highlands Council (NJHC) Website

This merry group of Citizen Scientists leads double lives as fierce protectors of the New Jersey Highlands region in their staff positions with the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council. Covering more than 880,000 acres in northern NJ, the Highlands region makes up less than 20% of the state’s area but is the source of drinking water for most New Jersey residents. The Highlands Council team monitored three sites as part of the NJCWST Traveling HAB Lab Program: two at Durham Pond in Rockaway Township, Morris County, and one at Frenches Pond in Byram Township, Sussex County.

Team Members

Jocelyn van den Akker
GIS Manager
Carolyn Klaube
Natural Resources Specialist
Sarah Friend
Environmental Scientist
Alex Hascha
Resource Management Specialist
Kelley Curran
Science Manager/Hab Lab team lead
Carole Ann Dicton
Communications Manager
Casey Ezyske
Water Resource Management Specialist
Plumsted Environmental Committee (PEC)
Plumsted Environmental Committee (PEC) group photo

Plumsted Environmental Committee (PEC) Website

The Plumsted Environmental Committee team monitored three sites within Plumsted, New Jersey as part of the Traveling HAB Lab- Citizen Science Program: one at Oakford Lake in North Hanover Township, Burlington County; one at Crosswicks Creek in Upper Freehold Township, Burlington County and one at Crosswicks Creek in Plumsted, Ocean County.

Team Members

Katherine Tallon
Robert Tallon
Lauren Gelak
Libby Witham
John Neyenhouse
William Bonnell
Stacy Reed
Gabrielle Fox
Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners Association (UGLPOA)
Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners Association (UGLPOA) group photo

Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners Association (UGLPOA) Website

The Upper Greenwood Lake Property Owners Association team monitored three sites at Upper Greenwood Lake as part of the Traveling HAB Lab-Citizen Science Program.

Team Members

Terry Gianniotis
Dave Surman
Andrew Quirk
Kathy Straubel