NYS SMM Stewardship Program

Are you interested in what happens to materials we throw “away”? The NYS Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Stewardship program provides a unique opportunity to explore the concepts of “away” and apply this knowledge in your community. This program focuses on prioritizing higher uses of materials based on the waste hierarchy (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot). Stewards focus on a variety of high priority materials including traditional recyclables, organics, single-use plastics, textiles, electronics, and more. The stewardship program is a remote paid opportunity for the duration of the Spring ‘24 semester with a one-time stipend received at the end of the program.

The goal of this program is to equip stewards with the knowledge to orchestrate hands-on community projects by applying their SMM training, while gaining valuable skills they can translate into their daily lives, the workforce, or academia. These projects can educate or integrate SMM practices into schools, organizations, businesses, and others throughout New York State. Stewards carry out these initiatives, while also developing leadership and communication skills, networking with SMM professionals, and gaining professional experience. 

NYS SMM Stewardship Program Symposium

Join us virtually to hear presentations about sustainable materials management efforts from the Spring ’24 cohort of stewards from across New York State!

When? April 29th, 10 AM – 3:20 PM

Where? Virtually via zoom

More details, including a schedule of events, coming soon.

Register Here


This program is a remote opportunity that is open to any and all students attending an undergraduate or graduate program in New York State.

 Fiona Koye (‘22, SUNY-ESF) presents to DEC Commissioner Seggos on reducing plastic waste at the SUNY-ESF Center for Sustainable Materials Management roundtable.
Fiona Koye (‘22, SUNY-ESF) presents to DEC Commissioner Seggos on reducing plastic waste at the SUNY-ESF Center for Sustainable Materials Management roundtable.

Program Requirements and Stipend

Stewards are expected to commit approximately 10 hours of training time and 40 hours of paid project time over the course of the Spring ‘24 program and accumulate the minimum amount of points for personal development, professional networking, and community engagement. These points include key required tasks, such as participating in the training program and the end-of-year symposium.

Participating stewards meeting the program requirements by the end of the stewardship program will receive a one-time stipend of $640 following completion of the program and submission of final materials.

Timeline and Deadlines

Application Deadline: Friday, October 20, 2023 by 11:59 PM EST

Receive Notice of Acceptance: Friday, November 3rd, 2023

Meet & Greet: Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Trainings: January – February, 2024

SMM End-of-Year Symposium: April 29th, 10 AM – 3:20 PM

Learning Objectives & Training Opportunities

Lisa Ruggero (Assistant Director of Programs at SU-CSCS) discusses the recyclability of different materials to a group of SMM stewards.
Lisa Ruggero (Assistant Director of Programs at SU-CSCS) discusses the recyclability of different materials to a group of SMM stewards.

Personal Development

Stewards will leave this program with…

  • An advanced knowledge of sustainable materials management, the waste hierarchy, and our current linear (take-make-dispose) economy.
  • A deeper understanding of key waste issues and opportunities, including, but not limited to: landfilling, waste incineration, planned obsolescence, life cycle analyses (LCAs), greenwashing, green consumerism, circular economy, reuse, deconstruction, repair cafes, plastic pollution, microplastics, food waste, food insecurity, recycling, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), and environmental communication.
  • An understanding of the essential shift of responsibility for materials from individual consumers to the industries and policies which manufacture, use, and dispose of materials, while emphasizing the impacts of consumerism on our materials economy.
  • A grasp of life-cycle thinking and the importance and limitations of life cycle analyses. 
  • Knowledge of sustainability marketing and how it relates to greenwashing and green consumerism.

Professional Networking

Stewards will gain…

  • Networking connections to various SMM professionals and organizations throughout New York State.
  • Public speaking experience toward various audiences and stakeholders, including a presentation at a regional Sustainable Materials Management symposium at the completion of the program.
  • Connections to other like-minded stewards throughout the state!

Community Engagement

Students will engage communities, resulting in…

  • First-hand experience with organizing and facilitating a community event focused on sustainable materials management. 
  • The broader dissemination of SMM knowledge.
  • A better understanding of how SMM is experienced by the community and the challenges they face.
  • A measurable and meaningful impact (number of attendees, bags of litter cleaned up, number of textiles exchanged, etc).
  • Creative approaches to SMM challenges, fit to the background of the steward and the needs of the community.

Past Stewards Project Examples

Picture of shoes on a table for a textile redistribution event at LaFayette elementary school.

Jemila Smith (‘18, Syracuse University)

Jemila engaged administrators, teachers, students, and parents of a LaFayette elementary school by organizing an in-school used textiles redistribution event for clothing, shoes, accessories, and more.

Screen caption of a short documentary film featuring Zaw Win, owner of Westside Value Redemption in Buffalo, NY.

Eva Sideris (‘22, SUNY-ESF)

Eva created a short documentary film about bottle and can redemption centers in Buffalo, NY, illuminating the hidden social and economic impacts of recycling in marginalized communities.

Steward Haley Dean leads a group of students at Watkins Glen Elementary School on conducting a waste audit.

Haley Dean (‘22, Rochester Institute of Technology)

Haley engaged administrators, staff, and students at Watkins Glen Elementary School by presenting on food waste issues and solutions and conducting a waste audit with ~200 students.

Steward Emily Bernal tables at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo next to a sign on composting.

Emily Bernal (‘23, SUNY-ESF)

Emily tabled at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s annual Earth Day event called “Party for the Planet,” engaging over 200 attendees on topics such as composting and the zoo’s future native pollinator garden.

Do you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the SMM Stewardship Program? If so, please contact CSCS Program Coordinator, Morgan Ingraham, at meingrah@syr.edu.