Conserve Wildlife Blog

Watershed Institute Educator Pat Heaney Honored for Education Efforts

October 11th, 2018

As the Senior Educator at the Watershed Institute, 2018 Women & Wildlife Education Award Honoree Pat Heaney has spent over 30 years serving as both a steward of the environment and an educator about New Jersey’s wildlife. She has spent her career teaching about nature to diverse audiences in an engaging way, while also effectively leading organizations in promoting environmental education. She has worked with thousands of students over the years – thrilling kids by helping them catch and hold a frog so they could really feel the magic of nature.

Pat received a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey and then went on to earn a Master’s in Geography from Rutgers University. Pat worked as an Environmental Specialist conducting wetlands investigations and presented expert testimony before municipal planning and zoning boards. She then spent two years as a Recreational Leader in the Monmouth County Park System, where she worked to provide nature opportunities to low-income residents. Pat spent over 25 years at Kateri Environmental Center and Day Camp in Wickatunk, New Jersey. She engaged over 4,000 students per year, many of whom were at-risk youth or students with special needs. Among her many impactful programs was Project ECO. Pat was in charge of all aspects of this summer-extended school-year program for special education students. She was able to make the students feel comfortable outside, something these students had rarely enjoyed. Pat ran a variety of special events from vegetarian cooking classes to Women’s Outdoor Survival Weekends.

Pat has been a Girl Scout Volunteer for over 25 years. She spends time with both the girls and the adult leaders, presenting outdoor camping skills training, natural history workshops, and her favorite: campfire sing-alongs. Hundreds of girls in Monmouth and Ocean Counties have had outdoor experiences with Pat. For the past 5 years, Pat has served on the Board of the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE) where she helps to spread the mission of environmental literacy to teachers throughout the state.

Currently, Pat serves as the Senior Educator at The Watershed Institute in Pennington, New Jersey, where she continues to train naturalists, inspire students, and educate citizens of all ages. Whether it is explaining the complexities of the local watershed, or teaching about the significance of frogs as an environmental barometer, Pat continues to serve as a vital ambassador for wildlife and the natural world.

Join us to honor Pat and three other 2018 Women & Wildlife Honorees on Wednesday, November 7 beginning at 6 PM. Purchase event tickets and find more information.


We asked Pat a few questions about what inspires her to dedicate her career to New Jersey’s wildlife:

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love seeing the faces of children (and adults) when they discover something new about the outdoors. There is a special joy and excitement the first time they pet a snake or hold a tadpole. I love helping children overcome their fears and embrace the outdoors.

Name one thing you can’t live without.

As I tell my students, go outdoors everyday, put your head back and look up at the sky. I do this everyday, even if just for a few seconds.

Do you have a New Jersey wildlife species that you like best?

I have spent the most time with frogs: green frogs and bullfrogs. I love that they are an easy and friendly introduction to wildlife for many people.

Name one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to change the world.

Find others with the same goals. Join in and work together. Be nice!

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Much of my non work time is spent on volunteering in the field, either with Girls Scouts or ANJEE. When I take a break from that I like to swim and write, but not at the same time. Although I sometimes make up stories as I swim, the paper gets ruined.


Please join us on Wednesday November 7, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Duke Farms’ Coach Barn to honor the contributions that Pat Heaney, Sharon Petzinger, Beth Styler Barry, and Diane Soucy have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

We are excited to recognize the leadership, education, inspiration and legacy they provide for those working to protect wildlife in New Jersey.

One Response to “Watershed Institute Educator Pat Heaney Honored for Education Efforts”

  1. Julie Kirsh says:

    Congratulations, Pat! Great job!

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