Nick Labruna – Outreach Coordinator
Hey! I’m Nick and I am currently a senior a Mahwah High School. Growing up and living in the Garden State has exposed me luscious landscapes and vast amounts of greenery in my community. However, I understand that through litter and pollution, our world is not what it once was. I am extremely excited to be joining MEVO’s Earth Crew as the Outreach Coordinator because I know my fellow volunteers and I can make a positive contribution to our environment. Most of my favorite hobbies, like hiking at the Ramapo Valley County Reservation and biking through trails, surround me in nature. Being a part of MEVO is my method of giving back to the world that has already given me so much.
David Choi – Event Coordinator
I originally joined MEVO because I wanted to get community service hours. The first event I came to was removing the weeds from the Darlington Schoolhouse. It looked horrible initially, but after a few hours of work, it was better and cleaner. This made me realize how much I could help out improving the environment. I decided to pursue a leadership position so I could do my part in making a difference. As the volunteer leader of MEVO, I will do my best to do whatever it takes to make Mahwah, and the world, a much greener and safer place.
Karlito Alemda – Event Coordinator
Through the friendly invitations from Emma Spett and Eric Fuchs-Stengel I took part in numerous MEVO Earth Crew programs. They’re a great way to socialize, exercise and help save our planet. For the past few summers I volunteered as an assistant music teacher at the Mahwah High School Summer Music Program, which allowed me to assist young children in their musical endeavors. Though content with the amount of service I donated to the community, I still felt it necessary to do more, not just by shaping young children into musicians, but by shaping our community into a cleaner and greener town. I decided to use my knowledge and skills as a music teacher and salesperson to help MEVO grow as an environmental group and inform others how to create a greener earth.
FARM TO LIVE
Lori Dargis – Farm Crew Leader
My name is Lori Dargis from Westwood, New Jersey and I’m a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz studying Environmental Geochemical Science. I was unexpectedly inspired during my junior year of high school at Immaculate Heart Academy to study Environmental Science after taking a class to fill a general science requirement. I was shocked to learn about the devastating harm being done to our surroundings and most of all, the detrimental effects these damages have on our health. These environmental causes have given me a purpose in my studies and in my personal life. I became a vegetarian a year ago because I was horrified at the effects that meat production has on the environment. Transitioning to a plant-based diet has been an exciting adventure for me, mostly because I’m fascinated with new agricultural methods like genetic modification, natural herbicides and various other modern farming techniques. I hope to study more about sustainable agriculture and food science, which makes the Farm Crew a perfect place for me to start my efforts! Food is such an essential, intimate and sometimes emotional part of many people’s lives. I believe connecting communities to their food source will be a positive, constructive and fun experience for my home of Northern New Jersey!
Estefany Alvarado – Saturday Crew Leader
Hello, my name is Estefany and I’m a junior at William Paterson University majoring in environmental science. I absolutely love the outdoors! I spend most of my free time volunteering for outdoor education centers all over New Jersey. I started out as a bio major because I absolutely love animals, so much that I became a docent at my local Zoo! (I still volunteer there today!) But that wasn’t enough for me so I switched my major to broaden my horizons. That’s when I was drawn to our watersheds and volunteered with watershed ambassadors conducting visual and bio stream assessments (I still do, I love finding and identifying macroinvertabrates!) But I still couldn’t stop there; I’m addicted to learning more, more, more! So what was missing? Plants, the food that fuels the amazing cycle of life! I started out as a farm maintainer for MEVO last year, got a part time job as a middle school gardening teacher, and now I am so excited to be a Farm Crew Leader! My main motive is to help save the planet for future generations and the only way I could think of how is to learn everything I can about it, get my hands dirty, and connect with fellow conservationists so that we can make a difference together!
Alison Pugash – Development Intern
Ali grew up loving the great outdoors in the San Francisco Bay Area as she spent her free time hiking and running the trails around Marin County. Ali’s family began to harvest olive oil, wine, fruits, veggies and eggs at their small farm in Sonoma County when she was nine-years-old. Ever since, she’s become increasingly passionate about supporting local, organic agriculture and environmentally sustainable farming practices. Naturally, she was thrilled to meet Eric in one of her Environmental Studies classes at NYU and hear about his work at Farm to Live. Ali is eager to help Farm to Live’s projects as it gives her the chance to pursue both her personal interests and her morals. At the same time that she works for Eric, Ali pursues an Environmental Studies major and Economics minor at NYU. After college, she aspires to write public policy and become more involved in the non-profit world. For fun, Ali likes to play guitar, walk her goats, swim, hike mountains, and run trails.
Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel – Executive Director
Eric became passionate about stopping world environmental problems when he found a love for nature at the age of sixteen. He and his best friend Sam would explore the 3300 acre forests of Ramapo Valley County Reservation, climbing trees, hiking up mountains and swimming in lakes. Eric began to understand the grandness of planet Earth and the interconnections amongst the species living on it. But, what a dirty place the forest had become – plastic water bottles, wrappers, old clothes, cans, metal scrap, tires – were strewn about. Eric knew that Earth did not deserve this treatment, especially since our planet provides us with everything we need to survive. Why treat something that gives so much, so horribly? This simple idea inspired Eric to found “MEVO” in July 2008 in order to inspire youths to take action, volunteer and change the way people treat the Earth. Since then, hundreds of students have volunteered, lead and participated in making the world and natural environment a cleaner, happier and more sustainable place. In August 2011, Eric transferred colleges to attend New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and Social Change. At NYU, Eric was surrounded by students with the same vision. After giving a lot of hugs and high fives Eric and his fellow environmental brothers and sisters jointly founded the “Farm to Live Initiative of MEVO” in September of 2011. And the story goes on… Eric can be contacted at 201-316-4888 or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, he loves to hear from anyone interested in helping the Earth or natural environment.
Emma Spett – Volunteer Coordinator
Emma is a humanitarian and environmentalist who joined MEVO in pursuit of her passion for the world around her. Besides volunteering her time and energy towards helping improve the environment on a local and international scale, Emma enjoys traveling. She has visited multiple countries in Asia, most recently spending the summer of 2010 in India where she trekked through the Himalayas and volunteered with three magnificent schools: the SECMOL School in Ladakh, the Tibetan Children’s Village in Choglamsar and the Dil Se Campaign in New Delhi. Emma is also active in school organizations that work towards the advancement of environmental and human rights issues. She hopes to pursue a career in international human rights advocacy and law. Emma envisions a bright future for MEVO, following the idea to “never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
David Nicholson – Social Media Author
David is a veteran volunteer, a consistent member of Earth Crew’s projects and cleanups. Always curious about the world, David found MEVO to be not only a source of knowledge about the environmental problems occurring in his hometown but also a means to resolve them. He has completed first aid courses in wilderness survival and has hiked the local state parks with family and friends. Currently, David is a student at Northeastern University in Boston, is a member of the local hiking club there and is seeking ways to integrate environmental studies into his business degree. This summer he plans to have fun working on a farm for the first time. David enjoys foreign cultures and languages, reading anything and everything, the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, and has a variety of goals for the future, like seeing an Olympic Games event at some point in his life.
Peter Hauenstein – Greenhouse Manager
Pete is a volunteer who helped on many MEVO projects such as managing farm plots and trash clean ups. He grew up in the town of Mahwah, went to Commodore Perry School and always had memories of the Ramapo reservation. When he first heard of MEVO he was impressed and knew that this organization was accomplishing big things. He did not know how big those things were until he started talking with Eric. A few years back Pete traveled to the Caribbean to do a marine biology study abroad program, he had yearned to be in a tropical place. As he was swimming on and studying a coral reef, doing conservation research, analyzing the impacts of tourism and beach clean ups he felt very rewarded, privileged to be in such a beautiful place. It was quite some time later, that he realized Mahwah is a special place too. Despite having lost mountain lions and wolves a century ago, it remains one of the last forested regions in this whole county. This instilled a passion in Pete to protect these lands and also stressed the importance of thinking globally (back to his time in Turks and Caicos) and acting locally right here in his own town. Pete knows the way to make the suburbs more sustainable is to clean up trashed areas, plant gardens instead of lawns and remove invasive plants and replace them with native plants. MEVO is doing this each and every day and it is an amazing and incredible experience to be able to help out with such important work such as this. There is so much just to do in one town but these are ideas that could easily be spread to other towns. That’s the beauty of MEVO: the work can inspire people and meaningful change towards a more sustainable way of living is suddenly entirely possible. Imagine if this spread to other states, it would be a revolution sweeping the country. Pete hopes to work in biological conservation, has done sea turtle night patrols in Grenada and plans on doing many more conservation based trips. In the photo, Pete is on the northern tip of South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos archipelago north of the Caribbean Sea. The place is called Coast Guard. Its shores are fringed with mangroves and pristine beaches, more inward are saline tolerant plants that serve as habitat for a variety of lizard and bird species. This whole area is under threat from a vacation home development. When the area is settled by wealthy tourists, the ecosystem may never be the same again.
Tatiana Baez – Development Intern
When coming to New York University, Tatiana devoted little thought to the environment and even less to her role in protecting it. Now a sophomore studying Environmental Science, she is passionate about the world and searches for ways in which she can make a lasting difference. MEVO has been that outlet for her since she joined the organization in the fall of 2012. As a development intern, she plays a role in several different projects, including grant writing, researching and outreaching. Besides volunteering her time toward environmental protection, Tatiana also studies Journalism and is a writer and editor for several publications. She hopes to use her writing and passion for the environment to educate people on the current problems facing the world and provide them with the knowledge they need to address those problems. In her free time, you can find Tatiana reading a good book or devouring Indian food.
Dmitry Merkulov – Web Developer
Dmitry, a Ramapo College graduate, joined MEVO shortly after it was founded in 2008 as its web developer and network administrator. In 2011 he began regularly volunteering for the Earth Crew and in 2012 also joined the Farm To Live program as a general handyman. “America, America, man sheds his waste on thee, and hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.” – George Carlin.