From the Ground Up: SEBS Staff Get Lesson in Organic Land Care

Amy Rowe introduced Organic Land Care to SEBS staff members on Oct. 21.

Amy Rowe introduced Organic Land Care to SEBS staff members.

As part of the SEBS Administrative Staff Community Initiative, which offers staff the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the school community and campus and get to know other staff members through a variety of activities during lunch hour sessions, an intro to Organic Land Care (OLC) was offered on October 21. Environmental and Resource Management Agent for Essex and Passaic Counties Amy Rowe (GSNB 2006) conducted the session, based on an extensive course that she and fellow Rutgers Cooperative Extension agricultural and environmental resource management agents Michele Bakacs, Jan Zientek, Bill Hlubik and extension specialists Joe Heckman and Jim Murphy have developed for professional landscapers as well as workshops for homeowners. [Read more...]

Alumni Story: Tom Pluta (Ag ’64, GSNB ’76), A Solid Foundation

Tom Pluta

Tom Pluta

The School’s open invitation to alumni to share their “stories” has resulted in scores of interesting, even inspirational, memoirs about work and careers and the influence that their Rutgers education and experiences had on the direction of their lives.

And in some cases, there have been several roads taken. Such is the case with Deacon Tom Pluta, a 1964 graduate from the College of Agriculture, who came back to earn his master’s degree in environmental science in 1976.

Born and raised in Linden, N.J., with, as he puts it, “the sight (and smell) of the Bayway Refinery,” he grew up in a large, extended Polish family (“my mother was one of 12”). He did all right in high school, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class of 400, but admits that he “probably couldn’t get into Rutgers today.” [Read more...]

Alumni Story: Lester Brown, Environmental Roots

Lester Brown (right) talks with Rutgers students after his 2013 visit to campus for a lecture and book signing.

Lester Brown (right) talks with Rutgers students after his 2013 visit to campus for a lecture and book signing.

Editor’s Note: One of the most prestigious honors conferred on alumni of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is induction into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni (HDA). The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences is proud of its 16 HDA honorees. This is one of a series of stories about them.

It’s one thing to see a problem. It’s another to doggedly advocate for – and provide – solutions. That is what sets Lester R. Brown apart from the crowd, the “ability to influence policy prescriptions for addressing global challenges.” [Read more...]

Alumni Story: Mark Robson, Making Rutgers His Home

Editor’s Note: In celebration of the 150th anniversary of our designation as the land grant institution in New Jersey, alumni are invited to tell their own Rutgers “story.” Mark Gregory Robson holds four Rutgers degrees – a B.S. (1977) in Agricultural Science from Cook College, a master’s (1979) and Ph.D. (1988) in Plant Science from the Graduate School-New Brunswick, and an M.P.H. (1995) in Environmental and Occupational Health from the School of Public Health. Here is his story, in his own words.


Mark visits with farmers in rural Vietnam to discuss rice production and pesticide exposure.

I like to joke that my mother dropped me off in 1973, and I am still waiting for her to come back. Actually, it was my Aunt Leah and Uncle Frank who dropped me off, and I am still here – 42 years, four degrees, three jobs, and one wife later.

My first exposure to Rutgers came as a kid at home on the farm. Robson’s Farm was a typical small family farm with 35 dairy cows, 3,000 laying hens and about 140 acres of vegetables and field crops. Our county agents were regular visitors to our farm. My brother, sister, and I all became members of the Meadow Clippers 4-H Dairy Club. Through 4-H, I started going to functions on the Cook Campus, State 4-H camp and other parts of Rutgers. All of this exposed me to the Rutgers College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES).

I applied to Rutgers in 1972 and came as a freshman in 1973 at the newly formed Cook College. I ended up living on campus in Helyar House, due to the influence of my neighbors, the Hlubiks. All six Hlubik brothers went to Rutgers, and all were part of the Cooperative Living Group, Helyar House or its predecessors: Patrick, Michael, Gerard, Raymond, Joseph, and William. Joe was my classmate, Joe went to Michigan for his Ph.D. and then went to Penn State as a faculty member. Later Joe became a Catholic priest and is now the pastor of St. Andrew’s parish near my home. Bill, the youngest brother, is the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Middlesex County Agriculture and Resource Management Agent. [Read more...]

Two Big Ten Universities Work to Develop Environmentally Friendly Lawns

In June, New Jersey homeowners looked at and walked on different kinds of grass grown at Rutgers' Horticulture Farm II in New Brunswick.

In June, New Jersey homeowners looked at and walked on different kinds of grass grown at Rutgers’ Horticulture Farm II in New Brunswick.

Maintaining a lush green lawn with less inputs of water, fertilizer and pesticides is a promising reality as Rutgers turf breeders Bill Meyer, Stacy Bonos and Austin Grimshaw team up with University of Minnesota researchers in search of the finest of fine fescues. Read more at Rutgers Today.