D&R Greenway Begins Two Yearlong Fellowships with 2021 Princeton University Graduates

D&R Greenway welcomes two recent graduates of Princeton University into one-year Fellowships in partnership with Princeton’s AlumniCorps Project 55 program. The program’s motto is to “Launch a life of civic leadership.” They are (from left) Ayame Whitfield and Heather Callahan, shown here at the front door to the newly acquired Gardener’s House at Point Breeze.

Two recent graduates of Princeton University were welcomed into one-year Fellowhips by D&R Greenway, beginning this summer. These Fellowships are provided in partnership with Princeton’s AlumniCorps Project 55 program. This program offers opportunities for exceptional recent graduates to connect with and work with nonprofits. The AlumniCorps Project 55’s motto is “Launch a life of civic leadership.”

This year marks a milestone, with D&R Greenway’s welcoming two Fellows for the first time. Heather Callahan of Delaware and Ayame Whitfield of Massachusetts, both 2021 Princeton University graduates, were selected for these positions. Linda Mead, D&R Greenway’s CEO & President reveals, “Close to a decade ago, the university reached out to D&R Greenway due to significant increases in student interest in environmental careers. Our land trust was chosen so that Princeton University graduates could engage with a local nonprofit devoted to conservation. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with smart, thoughtful and proactive young people toward our mission.” D&R Greenway fully supports the positions financially and is grateful to foundation donors for helping to fund this work that mentors future conservation leaders.

Ayame Whitfield was awarded her NJA.B., –in History of Science, with a Certificate in the Visual Arts, from Princeton University in May. Ayame served as a Summer 2017 Intern with Princeton Environmental Institute and as Secretary of Ellipses Slam Poetry, from 2019 to 2021, where she was active in planning Ellipses’ poetry events and interacting with a broad range of university offices. As Student House Manager, Richardson Auditorium, Ayame coordinated students and professionals, facilitating concerts and other Richardson presentations. She was responsible for creating newsletters to maintain connections during COVID-19 restrictions. Ayame was an intern in summer 2019, with Policy Matters Ohio, Cleveland, –a public policy non-profit, working to improve lives of working-class Ohio citizens. Ayame will serve D&R Greenway as Volunteer Coordinator and will use her artistic skill set to create exhibits and programs for the new museum that D&R Greenway Land Trust will open at Point Breeze, former Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte estate, in Bordentown, New Jersey. Ayame explains her mission with D&R Greenway Land Trust: “I’m thrilled that my work with D&R Greenway will give me a chance to engage a wide range of my skills and experience, –from art to historical research and writing to volunteer work – and to contribute to the amazing preservation work being done here in New Jersey.”

Heather Callahan graduated from Princeton University in 2021 with an A.B. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She comes to D&R Greenway with experience nationally and internationally. For the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, she worked as their Division of Climate and Energy Intern. Among her challenges was compiling revisions to the Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program’s Field Guide, to be presented to the United States Department of Energy, which is ‘devoted to reimagining and rebuilding America’s energy grid.” At the Mpala Research Center, of Kenya, Heather collected ecological data on local animals, presenting these findings at the 2019 Princeton Environmental Institute Summer of Learning Symposium. For the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute of Panama, she conducted fieldwork for research courses in tropical biology. Heather’s Princeton Senior Fieldwork included conducting observations and distributing daily surveys investigating the effects of the CORONA virus upon human behavior. She volunteered for SVC El Centro Core, where she created engaging lesson plans to encourage participation in Trenton’s English as a Second Language courses. As a Princeton Young Achievers Volunteer in 2019/20, Heather assisted with after-school programs for low income, mostly Spanish-speaking, students in the town of Princeton. She adds a “working knowledge of Portuguese” to her spoken, auditory and written expertise in Spanish. Heather will be managing D&R Greenway’s new kayak-supported Delaware River education program and overseeing planning for the re-creation of gardens at the former Joseph Bonaparte estate of Point Breeze in Bordentown.

Heather reveals, “In the Princeton University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I spent a lot of time learning the amazing biodiversity of our planet. However, delving more deeply, I came to realize the myriad of ways in which development threatens, –not only these species–, but also various aspects of human life, –from our food system to our ability to access clean water and recreation spaces. D&R Greenway’s dedication to preserving land in perpetuity will not only protect the biodiversity that I am so passionate about, but also provide the opportunity for New Jerseyans to live healthy, happy lives, even in one of the most densely populated places in the country.”

Prior Fellows at D&R Greenway included Allegra Lovejoy, whose work established Capital City Farm in Trenton under D&R Greenway’s guidance; Kelsey Kane-Ritsch who coordinated the first River Days celebrations for the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River; and Nadeem Demian who expanded D&R Greenway’s community conservation work and established the land trust’s partnership with the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Most recently, Maria Stahl, the 2020-2021 Fellow, created a series of educational webinars on the Delaware River and assisted the land trust’s stewardship work, engaging family groups with planting of over 1,600 trees during the pandemic. She managed D&R Greenway’s first-ever Masquerade Parade, a successful alternative to trick-or-treating during the pandemic, that will be repeated in 2021.  Maria evaluated her experience at D&R Greenway – “ I joined D&R Greenway as someone passionate about the environment but without much real-world conservation experience. Over the course of the year, I learned so much from everyone at D&R Greenway about all the hard work and passion that is needed to do the work that they do – preserving and protecting land for generations to come. In the midst of the pandemic this was especially important, as more people were utilizing our trails than ever before. Looking back, I am particularly happy that I was able to provide ways for the FUTURO students to be together and collaborate on projects – first with their float for the Masquerade Parade and later with an educational series about the Delaware River Watershed. This was a year like no other, and I feel very fortunate to have spent it with D&R Greenway.”

D&R Greenway’s mission to preserve and care for land and to inspire a conservation ethic is furthered by mentoring future leaders, another way that D&R Greenway is having a bigger impact on the environment locally and beyond.