EPA Regional Administrator

Rare Human Species Sighted in the NYC Metro Area!

By Paula Zevin

Stop the presses! This is major news and must be reported on the spot!

It seems that the workshops held at EPA Region 2’s New York City Headquarters and at the Edison Environmental Center in New Jersey on June 19 and 20, 2012 respectively, have lead to sightings of an elusive human species: homo sapiens civis naturalis.

Homo sapiens civis naturalis

In laymen’s language this would be the Citizen Scientist. Yes, we knew that they were out there, performing such valuable work as mapping local waterways, monitoring for indoor air quality, assessing bacteria in the Hudson River or the water quality of Pompeston Creek in southern New Jersey, and educating at-risk communities about pollutants in their midst and how to improve conditions. Moreover, they seem to have found their ways into cities and suburbs in equal measure.

The Citizen Science workshops, the very first ones to be sponsored by EPA Region 2 and held under the aegis of our Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, and of the Director of the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment, Deb Szaro, were an unequivocal success. The agenda featured similar tracks for both the City and Edison sessions: on what to consider when starting a volunteer monitoring group, success stories for groups monitoring the air, water and habitat in New York and New Jersey, information on funding, academic/state government partnerships with non-profit organizations, data use by States and data interpretation, an intro to Quality Assurance, tools of the future and instrument and web tools demos. Conference feedback has been very positive and we have learned a few valuable lessons for the future of these workshops. More information will become available in the near future on a new web site specifically dedicated to Citizen Science, on Region 2’s social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, this blog), and through a Wiki. If anyone is interested in finding out more about this topic, please contact Pat Sheridan (sheridan.patricia@epa.gov).

How, do you ask, did we manage to lure h.sapiens civis naturalis out into the open and into our workshops? Well, studies have shown that this elusive species is very attracted to a food group collectively known as MAGIC BARS.

Amazing, isn’t it? This delicious food group boasts a large number of recipes with variations on the same, delectable ingredients: shredded coconut, chocolate chips, roasted or toasted chopped nuts, sweet condensed milk and a buttery crust to hold everything together. It appears that Deb’s recipe is irresistible to most, if not all h.sapiens civis naturalis and the siren song of those lovely morsels brought out the best in them. I’m pretty sure that there are a few secret specimens within the ranks of EPA, State and Local Governments, as well as in academia, because there were a couple of near-fights over who got corners or the last pieces.

Fortunately, all is well that ends well. Civility prevailed and with the assurance of future events, featuring interesting topics and Deb’s Magic Bars, the two days concluded peacefully. If you’d like to conduct your own anthropological or scientific studies, let us know, we will share the super-secret recipe with you. Hush, just don’t tell anyone else…

About the author: Paula Zevin is currently an Environmental Engineer in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment at the Edison Environmental Center. Her work is centered on the technical and programmatic aspects of ambient water monitoring. She is also the volunteer water monitoring coordinator for EPA Region 2. Paula has been with EPA since 1991, and has worked in the chemical, pharmaceutical, textile and cosmetic industries prior to joining EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Think About the Environment this Holiday Season: Holiday tips from EPA’s Regional Administrator

By Judith Enck 

When I was a kid, growing up in Greene County New York, my beloved father won contests for the large number of lights that he put on our house. I would note that entire power plants had to run in order to keep the Enck family house illuminated, so I’m now doing my penance with LED lights. There really is no excuse to double your electric bill or blow your budget around the holidays, so here are my tips for a more environmentally friendly season.

  • Remember to support local businesses whenever possible

    Holiday themed LED lights are a great compromise

  • Consider a small live indoor tree or plant that can serve as a holiday tree to be decorated year after year.
  • If you opt for a real tree, be sure to compost it after the season is over.
  • Decorate with LED lights and colorful reusable ornaments that don’t require electricity such as (reusable) ribbons.
  • Reuse wrapping paper or use old comics to wrap gifts.
  • Start a new card tradition. My friend, Laurie Valeriano and I send the same holiday card back and forth to each other. We read old messages we wrote over the years and they are great memories.
  • Try not to buy unnecessary consumer products. Give experiences instead like tickets to plays or concerts as a way to spend time together.
  • When purchasing gifts, I try to select things that are useful, fun and environmentally sound. This year, several people on my list will be getting seltzer makers so they don’t even have to recycle bottles any more, they can just reuse the same ones.
  • More tips here.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Best wishes for a wonderful and sustainable holiday season and a very green new year!

About the author: Judith Enck is EPA’s Regional Administrator of and a native New Yorker who currently resides in Brooklyn.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA Administrator visits Brooklyn to Give Commencement Speech

Lisa Jackson walks towards the stage in preparation for her speech during the NYC College of Technology commencement ceremony at MCU Park at Coney Island on Friday, June 3, 2011.

By Kasia Broussalian

It took a while for anyone to notice me. When photographing, I like it that way. Real moments unfold in front of you, instead of staged, camera-wary ones.

“Hey! Who are you?”

Spotted. I turn towards the voice and my eyes meet at mid-navel height. Craning my head up to see his face, I fumble for the correct words. Technically, the e-mail had said to wait at the front entrance, where I would be escorted to a viewing area. While “sneaking in” was a bit off base (I had asked my way around, after all), “escorted” was even more so.

Heidi Ellis (right) and Assistant Press Secretary Alisha Johnson (center) secure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s cap before the start of the New York City College of Technology commencement ceremony. Lisa Jackson gave the commencement address.

“I’m from the Region 2 Public Affairs office, I’m here to see Lisa Jackson’s commencement speech,” I pronounce, hoping to inject some confidence. “I’m….part of the advance party?” Less certain here, I pick out another line from the e-mail that hadn’t quite been clear. He eyes me for a minute, and cracks a grin.

“You would make a good agent, you know?” At this, I roll my eyes. Amongst other reasons, my barely-over-five-feet-stature says otherwise. He shakes my hand, and introduces himself as Lisa Jackson’s, U.S. EPA Administrator, agent for the day. Meeting a new friend is always great, but meeting the right new friend is even better. It was smooth sailing from there on out. While I kept the illusion of composure in check, inside I was flying.  For a greater portion of an hour, I was standing next to Lisa Jackson, a cabinet-level executive! That has to be a thrill second only to meeting President Obama himself.

It’s my opinion that once you’ve been to one commencement ceremony; you’ve been to them all. However, New York City College of Technology’s ceremony at Coney Island captured a few moments that really sparkled. It could’ve been Student Government President Terel Watson’s poetic rendition of Mims’ “This is Why I’m Hot” rap, or, commencement speaker Lisa Jackson’s rebuttal with, “Terel, that’s why I’m hot.” However, I take my hat off to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who, on introducing Lisa Jackson, pushes the microphone to its limit with resounding confidence, “When you want a job done right, you gotta have a woman do it!”

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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