Article and Photos by Rutgers Research Vessel Captain Chip Haldeman
In March of 2022, Rutgers junior and Leadership Scholar at the Institute for Women’s Leadership Kirstin Slattery inquired about the possibility of a trip aboard the R/V Rutgers along the Raritan River. She had been tasked with developing a social action plan centered around a personal passion, and as an environmental policy major, the Raritan River and its storied history were a perfect fit.
Kirstin reached out to R/V Rutgers Captain Chip Haldeman and initiated discussions in relation to what’s involved, how much it costs, and most importanly, what she’s interested in accomplishing. Feeling perhaps a bit of deja vu, Captain Chip connected Kirstin w/ Dr. Heather Fenyk, Board President and de facto Executive Director of the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership. Dr. Fenyk, one of our resident experts on history and current policies affecting the Raritan River, agreed to accompany the IWL scholars aboard and share her expertise. Additionally, Kirstin was also invited aboard by Dr. Fenyk for LRWP’s annual trip prior to her own discussing similar areas of interest and introducing new concepts as well.
Fast forward to October 28th, and Kirstin’s vision, dedication, and planning had come to fruition. Not only had she arranged the scheduling and logistics for the trip, but she had also secured the necessary funding for the vessel’s operation. This can often be a daunting task, but challenges are meant to be overcome, and this now-Rutgers senior delivered. Dr. Jeffra Schaefer, a professor in Rutgers’ Department of Environmental Sciences, volunteered to serve as deckhand, offering further expertise. Dr. Schaefer and Dr. Fenyk are the embodiment of women in leadership roles; perfect examples for aspiring Scarlet Knights. Many thanks to both for volunteering their time. The trip itself was informative and educational – the bonus being perfect weather and beautiful fall colors along the banks – but not without its obstacles. Moon phases and tides had conspired to flood the Rutgers crew boathouse docks, so the R/V Rutgers once again utilized its landing craft ability to board passengers on the banks of the Raritan near Boyd park. The remainder of the trip went off without a hitch, returning as planned and disembarking at the boathouse, just prior to RU crew’s afternoon practice. Congratulations, Kirstin, on a job well done. Truly a moment for Rutgers to be proud!