S.T.E.M. Steps Into the Wild

The community group serves a critical function—keeping beautiful our dwindling nature preserves.

The community spirit of Moorestown was again in full effect Saturday, as volunteers descended on an area of the Pompeston Creek that was in need of cleanup. Through the efforts of S.T.E.M.—the longtime environmental nonprofit that calls Moorestown home—a wooded area straddling New Albany Road, just north of Church Road, was made that much more pristine.

The Pompeston Creek runs through Cinnaminson, mainly through Fountain Farms Park.

S.T.E.M.—Save the Environment of Moorestown—has lead such cleanup activities in town for nearly 40 years. Founding member Kay Smith was there in 1972 when the community group was formed, and today presides as chairperson of the Natural Area Care (NAC) program, which is administered through S.T.E.M.

She was at the helm Saturday, where volunteers refurbished trails, picked up trash and removed invasive species, which according to Smith, "spread wildly, and can even choke off entire trees."

From March to November, NAC attends to areas in town that require such care. "On the second Saturday of each month, for two hours we go out and clean up [these areas]. All sorts of volunteer groups join in—all ages, scout groups, schools, even some local corporations," she said.

The preservation of open space has been a core mission for the group since its founding. Issues from litter control to recycling practices to maintaining both air and water quality, the organization considers itself stewards of the nature right in our backyards. According to its website, S.T.E.M. has participated in efforts that have preserved more than 275 acres in Moorestown.

In protecting precious open space from development, Smith, along with President Betsy Schnorr and the many volunteers who drive S.T.E.M.'s efforts, they introduce many to unadulterated portions of town that would otherwise go unseen. Or, more likely, face bulldozers and play host to rampant construction.

The organization coordinates outings throughout the year that give residents a healthy mix of education and fun. Their annual open space festival, S.T.E.M. Steps Out, held each October at Strawbridge Park, has been a hit, though Smith says they have something new in the works for this fall.

An annual photo contest—inviting photographers, both professional and amateur, to submit imagery of Moorestown's outdoors—is still accepting submissions for a June 18 judging, coinciding with the group's annual picnic. More info about the photo contest can be found here.

S.T.E.M. is one among several environmental groups in town, together with the Moorestown Environmental Advisory Committee and the Open Space Advisory Committee. Their work, in conjunction with individuals and companies alike, remain vital to the imperative mission Moorestown faces—transitioning to a sustainable township model. And by definition, that mission is a never-ending one.


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