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Christopher Jage, Willow School win environmental awards


New Jersey Conservation Foundation

Christopher Jage, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s assistant director for southern New Jersey, and the Willow School in Gladstone, co-founded by our trustee Mark Biedron, were honored last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Jage and the Willow School were among eight individuals and organizations from New Jersey receiving the EPA’s Environmental Quality Awards for outstanding achievements in protecting the environment.

“Today we honor those who advocate for a better environment, and give their time and energy to make the world a healthier and cleaner place,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck at the April 23 ceremony in New York City. “The people and organizations we honor are truly making a difference and we thank them for their part in helping us shape a more sustainable environmental future.”

A resident of Hammonton, Jage got his start with New Jersey Conservation Foundation through a “shared staff” program, working directly with the Rancocas Conservancy and the South Jersey Land Trust in land acquisition and organizational development. He is now responsible for coordinating New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s land preservation activities in southern New Jersey. Jage was nominated for the EPA award for his current volunteer service to the Rancocas Conservancy.

Jage is credited with significantly increasing the Vincentown-based Conservancy’s land holdings through his ability to work with land owners and governmental agencies. He chaired the group’s land acquisition committee and simultaneously assumed the treasurer’s responsibility. Through his efforts, the conservancy’s preserved acreage has grown from 300 over 1,700 acres.

The Willow School, an independent day school for students in grades K-8, was founded in 2001 by husband and wife Mark and Gretchen Biedron. Mark Biedron has been a member of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees since 2004.

Students at the Willow School learn valuable lessons about environmental sustainability from hands-on experiences, such as its garden and roof designed to collect rainwater. The National Geographic’s “Green Guide” ranked The Willow School as the nation’s second greenest school for its progressive integration of sustainable design initiatives into the campus and the curriculum, and it was the first educational institution in the country to design and build a structure that received U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification.

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