Rutgers Gardens Celebrates its Centennial Anniversary

Installation of permanent benches.

Installation of permanent benches.

During Rutgers Historic 250th Year its ‘Secret Garden’ turns 100!

Rutgers Gardens celebrated its Centennial on May 17th with an outdoor reception under a large tent in the Roy DeBoer Evergreen Gardens. Despite the rain, the tent was packed with faculty, staff, and many supporters and volunteers. This historic moment in the Gardens’ history was commemorated with the installation of two permanent benches, a plaque, and the naming of a new commemorative bearded iris hybrid ‘Centennial Charm.’  Bob Lyons, chairman of the Advisory Board proudly announced the Horticulture Landmark Designation Award from the American Society for Horticulture Science and Bruce Crawford, director Rutgers Gardens was also honored with the Rutgers Gardens Centennial Award of Distinction.

Dean Bob Goodman.

Dean Bob Goodman.

Dean Bob Goodman kicked off the gala with some remarks regarding his introduction to the Gardens.  He said that during the interview process for the position of Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Studies and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, he was given a tour of the Gardens and then was told that the Gardens would be under his supervision as Dean. “You mean they’ll be mine?” He was clearly delighted!

Bruce Crawford, Rutgers Gardens director, gave a brief history of the Gardens, which began in 1916, when 35.7 acres of land—known as Wolpert Farm—was purchased on May 17, 1916 from Jacob and Celia Lipman. The Gardens  were intended as a functional learning space for local farmers to teach them about the new trend at the turn of the century—ornamental horticulture—and were never meant to be public, leading some to call them Rutgers’ ‘Secret Garden.’ They were never denied to the public, however, and the love for and dedication to the gardens by students, faculty and the public blossomed along with the gardens!

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The 10th annual Run for the Woods Raised Over $1,000!

Run for the Woods - On the Course - Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen 2

Through the woods. Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen.

The 10th annual Run for the Woods was held on Saturday May 14. The weather was beautiful, the runners were fast, and the volunteers and organizers did a great job. This 5k trail race was organized by the graduate students of the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association (EcoGSA) to raise funds for restoration and care of local woods at the Rutgers University Ecological Preserve (EcoPreserve) and for their Association. Professor Richard Lathrop, faculty director of the EcoPreserve, has also used donations to fund undergraduate projects such as an ecology course focused on natural resource management. The Run was originally held in Helyar Woods, part of Rutgers Gardens. The location was changed in 2014 and now takes place at the EcoPreserve.

Run for the Woods - Starting Line - Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen

Starting Line. Photo Credit-Amanda Sorensen.

This year 44 runners and walkers crossed the finish line. The competitors were mostly local runners, and many come out every year.  The fastest male finisher, William Hulbert, crossed the finish line in 18:49 minutes. The fastest female finisher, Amanda Cirillo, finished the run in 25:44 minutes.

Joni Baumgarten, who has headed the organization for 4 years, described the course as a single loop through the EcoPerserve, featuring many spring flowers including spring beauty (claytonia virginica) and Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum).  Obstacles included narrow sections, roots, rocks, and—because of the recent rains—mud!  Despite this last messy challenge, Natalie Howe, one of the runners who also helped [Read more…]

John and Anne Gerwig Directors Fund Presents First Awards

Gerwig 1

Larry S. Katz, director-Rutgers Cooperative Extension, with Anne and John Gerwig.

The first John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Fund awards for Rutgers Cooperative Extension were given out on May 4, 2016 at an event at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health that celebrated the Gerwigs and their tireless devotion to extension and underserved populations in New Jersey. The Gerwigs were presented with the commemorative book, “Rutgers, A 250th Anniversary Portrait” by current RCE director, Larry S. Katz, and after some thoughtful and moving remarks by Mr. Gerwig, certificates were presented to Nicholas Polanin and his team for programing designed to empower women in agriculture, and to Michelle Brill and Jeannette Rey-Keywood for a professional development series to create programming for the developmentally disabled.

Gerwig 2

John Gerwig.

John and Anne Gerwig are the embodiment of Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE). John joined 4-H when he was 5, became the extension agronomist early in his career, and is the longest serving director (1962-1992) in its history. Anne led the university’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program reaching limited resource families and was instrumental in obtaining critical employee benefits for paraprofessionals in extension.

John and Anne Gerwig wanted to help all of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. This devotion and desire led them to establish a fund that will provide resources to extension professionals in perpetuity. The goal of their $200,000 is to empower cooperative extension professionals so that they can make a bigger impact on New Jersey’s communities. A portion of the fund will be reserved to award through a formal “request for proposal” process set up and managed by the RCE director’s office. Remaining funds will be used to support emerging issues, internships, awarding additional proposals, and other needs that arise.

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Scientists create world’s largest coral gene database

Coral reefs…have survived five major extinction events over the last 250 million years. Now, an international team of scientists led by Rutgers faculty has conducted the world’s most comprehensive analysis of coral genes, focusing on how their evolution has allowed corals to interact with and adapt to the environment… "There are a few key genes in corals that allow them to build this house that laid down the foundation for many, many thousands of years of corals," said Debashish Bhattacharya, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. "It couldn’t be any more fundamental to ocean ecosystems." (Also appeared in Science Daily, Science Codex, eScienceNews,, Science Newsline.)

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Bathroom not top priority

Thank you for your editorial "A transgender woman walks into a ladies room. So?" You rightly point out climate change is a "much more pressing" issue than which bathroom a transgender person can use… Arctic sea ice levels are on track to hit new record lows this year. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on earth. According to the Washington Post, "We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it," says Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University who has published widely on how Arctic changes affect weather in the mid-latitudes.

Read the entire article at York Daily Record »

Maine Voices: At Hiroshima, Obama should begin leading world back from the brink

When President Obama speaks at ground zero in Hiroshima on Friday, he must do more than recall the horrific consequences of the first atomic bombing… In a series of professional journal articles, Rutgers environmental scientist Alan Robock, University of Colorado atmospheric and oceanic scientist Owen Brian Toon and others document that the likely impact of a so-called "limited nuclear war" on climate and global food production would put the world’s population at grave risk of mass starvation.

Read the entire article at The Portland Press Herald »

Edible Jersey Profiles the ‘Rutgers Scarlet’ Strawberry: The Jersey Berry

Bill Hlubik, Middlesex County agricultural agent

Bill Hlubik, Middlesex County agricultural agent

If Bill Hlubik has his way, there will be strawberry fields forever— or at least a little longer each year— in the Garden State. Hlubik and his team at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station hope to someday introduce new varieties that will extend the growing season beyond the traditional four weeks for June-bearing strawberries. For now, however, it’s all about the flavor. Read more at Edible Jersey.


Cape May County 4-H Robotics Team Takes First Place

The "Fuzzy Logic" 4-H Robotics Club recently took first place in the Middle School Division of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 2016 Robot Challenge. The fifth and sixth grade students are part of a 4-H club that meets after school at Cape Christian Academy. The students had to build the robot from a block of wood, 4 motors, 16 D-cell batteries and a supply of other parts provided in the kit… "Students love robotics, and it’s a lot of fun- but it’s also a lot of work," said Mr. John Spriggs, the 4-H club leader. "This competition places emphasis on the mechanics of building a robot and presenting how you built it and what you learned. I also love teaching the students how to program the robots and how to think logically."

Read the entire article at Cape May County Herald »

Record-Breaking Heat Grips India Amid Rash of Farmer Suicides

Temperatures in India reached a record-breaking 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit Friday, according to the Associated Press, suffocating parts of the country, and drawing further attention to a tragic rash of suicide deaths among the nation’s impoverished farmers, who are battling drought and other environmental conditions that stifle agricultural production… "The heat wave in India is another example that our climate is changing," said Ben Horton, a scientist at the University of Rutgers who focuses on climate change. "We are now experiencing climate extremes that include droughts, wildfires, flood, storms, and tropical cyclones as well."

Read the entire article at WBT 1110 Charlotte »

Canada wildfires in ‘bullseye’ of warming trends

Experts say climate change is contributing to the wildfires raging across Canada, and the increasing frequency of such fires may overwhelm one of Earth’s most important ecosystems, the boreal forest… "There is almost certainly a connection between the exceedingly warm Arctic, especially so this past winter, and the early fire season in high-latitude land areas, which includes much of Canada," said Jennifer Francis, research professor at Rutgers University.

Read the entire article at The Japanese Times »