VERONA, NJ – He wears many hats in Verona—volunteer firefighter, adventure programmer and media services manager to name just a few. He is dedicated to his town and the environment. It is this passion and dedication that has earned Steven Neale the honor of Sustainable New Jersey’s December 2015 Sustainability Hero.
Neale’s love of the outdoors inspired his interest in the environment and sustainability. In addition to his duties as media services manager for the township, he serves as Adventure Program Manager, head of Verona's Green Team and as Chair of Sustainable Verona. This year, he extended his reach in the environmental community by moving from the steering committee to the Chair of the Sustainable Jersey Essex County Hub. He also serves on the Sustainable Jersey Public Information Engagement Task Force.
In Verona, Neale has guided his green team to achieve Sustainable Jersey certification, introduced Verona’s first Green Fair in May to raise awareness about environmental issues, and used his knowledge of technology and media to grow Sustainable Verona’s visibility within the township, establishing a webpage on the Township site as well as active Facebook and Twitter pages.
Neale uses these outlets to provide information on the green team programs, local organizations and resources and areas like garbage and recycling, waste reduction, buy fresh buy local, educational materials, course offerings and videos. The group also provides information in the Township of Verona e-Newsletter and actively advertises events via fliers in township buildings and ads on the VeronaTV bulletin. Neale does regular interviews with local news outlets and sends media releases about the program as well. In addition to social media discussions, he uses a Sustainable Verona email address to take any questions from the public.
Former mayor and council member Frank Sapienza, a who was an original member and advocate for the Verona Green Team said, “We were happy when Steve took on the added responsibility to lead Verona to get Sustainable Jersey certification. He was a true quarterback for our team, moving us forward and keeping us on track with his communication and organizational skills. He’s an all-around good guy that has been an asset to our team as our leader as we work to make Verona a more sustainable community.”
Sustainable Verona is made up of several municipal employees, including the recycling coordinator, the head of the Department of Public Works and the Mayor. It includes residents who are involved with businesses in town including, a funeral home which runs on solar, a green architect, energy consultants, the head of the Verona Environmental Commission and members of the Shade Tree Commission.
"“My advice to other green teams is to lock in a core group of people that have the ties and personal commitment to sustainability; a group that will work hard collaboratively to achieve certification and to make a difference,” Neale said.
Neale is a lifelong resident of Verona. After graduating from the Verona Public Schools, he earned a BA in Communication and Media Studies from Penn State University. He began working for the Township of Verona upon graduation, being first employed by the Buildings and Grounds Department. He has served as a firefighter with the Verona Volunteer Fire Department since 2008 and as a Member of the Verona Color and Honor Guard for three years. He resides in Verona and is engaged to Ashley Eagan also of Verona.