Urban High School Students Dive Deep into Science at Rutgers University

Summer Science Students.

Summer Science Students.

Annual 4-H Summer Science Program was held July 11-15 on the Cook Campus

Over sixty high school students from Elizabeth, Newark, New Brunswick, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton, Rahway and Atlantic City participated in hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities alongside Rutgers faculty at the 8th annual 4-H Summer Science Program on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus.

“The students spent a week with Rutgers scientists–touring their labs, learning about their research, and how their scientific inquiry is relevant to our daily lives,” said Chad Ripberger, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) 4-H agent, Mercer County. And because the students were living on campus, they also got a taste of university life.

[Read more…]

Fish exchange set to start back up in Lyndhurst

After a winter hiatus, a fish exchange program that allows people to swap fish caught in the Passaic River for tilapia raised in Newark is set to start back up. The fish exchange is operated by the Rutgers VETS program and funded by the Lower Passaic Cooperating Parties Group (CPG), an organization of different entities believed responsible for contaminating the Passaic River. The lower 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River, from Dundee Dam in Garfield to the mouth of the Newark Bay, is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site… Amy Rowe, Ph.D, is part of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and helps direct the training.

Read the entire article at The Record »

Spring is planting season, but ‘giving season’ for Rutgers vets is year-round

While the 2015 class of the Rutgers Veterans Environmental and Technology Solutions (VETS) program graduated in December and the ground outside isn’t ready yet for spring planting, some of the program’s graduates worked through the cold months of winter to make sure those at the Willing Heart Community Center always had fresh vegetables… Amy Rowe, VETS co-director, noted "The classroom portion of the VETS program provides unemployed veterans with the skills they need to get back to work, but the hands-on field experience has come through partnerships and engagement with the community. The trainees work to revitalize distressed neighborhoods through the installation of community gardens, landscape beautification, and by teaching the citizens of Newark how to eat healthy and grow their own food."

Read the entire article at Newark Inc. »

Dirty Little Secrets: In Your Fish

Standing on the bank where the Passaic River meets the Newark Bay in New Jersey, Oswaldo Avad reels in a small bluefish and a piece of a grocery bag. "One piece plastic and one fish," Avad said in broken English. The Passaic River is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country. More than 100 companies are potentially responsible for dumping toxic waste in it for decades before that was outlawed. Fifty-four of the liable companies have formed a consortium and given Rutgers University $1.1 million to create a fish exchange program. Rutgers buys young tilapia from a fish farm in New Jersey and raises them in a Newark greenhouse. The waste produced by the fish is used to grow lettuce and herbs for a local food bank.

Read the entire article at WNYC News »

Rutgers Clean Energy and Food Innovation Incubators Leading Efforts to Improve Environmental Sustainability within New Jersey Food Industry


Rutgers EcoComplex was awarded a $157,517 grant from the U.S. EPA, Region II Pollution Prevention Program that’s aimed at helping New Jersey’s food processors, storage and distribution facilities to become more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable through upgrading refrigeration systems, using safer chemicals, reducing water and energy use, and increasing employee training.

“This project will require working closely with the existing food processing, cold storage and distribution facilities to evaluate their current practices and provide them with customized technical assistance and training to improve their sustainability,” says Serpil Guran, director of the Rutgers EcoComplex and the project’s principal investigator.

Among the partners in this project, which will target food supply chain facilities in Newark and Jersey City, are the Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC), the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Newark Refrigerated Warehouse LLC. [Read more…]

Growing New Jobs in Newark for Veterans [Video]

"There wasn’t a lot of jobs in Newark asking for someone to survey or make maps," Rutgers graduate Rodney Spencer said. After serving his country in the U.S. Army, Spencer couldn’t find a way to put his skills to use at home. Now he’s a graduate of Rutgers Veterans Environmental Technology Solutions program – an effort to put unemployed vets in the Newark area back to work. "It’s just nice being here, seeing the community connect with a really valuable resource – the returning veterans," Senior Program Coordinator Jan Zientek said.

Read the entire article at NJTV News »

Newark’s Cherry Blossoms Thrive with Rutgers’ Help

Paul Cowie demonstrates proper pruning protocol during the Master Gardener training.

Paul Cowie demonstrates proper pruning protocol while training Rutgers Master Gardeners.

Arborist Paul Cowie (CC ’85) and Jan Zientek (CC’82), senior program coordinator of Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Essex County, play key roles in maintaining the nation’s largest collection of flowering cherry trees in Essex County’s Branch Brook Park, leading a group of dedicated Rutgers Master Gardeners from Essex County. Branch Brook was the first county park in the nation, conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for his work on Central Park, and was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm after he retired. The current collection of 4,300 trees, an expansion of the original 2,000 planted in the 1920s, is a testament to the efforts to restore the park to its former glory.  Read more at Rutgers Today.

Newark’s Cherry Blossoms Thrive with Rutgers’ Help

New Jersey is known for the industrial landscape along the turnpike and the landmarks of the Jersey Shore. But one of the state’s greatest treasures may be its least well known- the nation’s largest collection of flowering cherry trees in Essex County’s Branch Brook Park… For the last decade, Rutgers alumnus Paul Cowie has been part of an effort to restore and expand the collection that erupts with striking pink blossoms each spring… Rutgers’ connection to the state’s hidden treasure runs deep. A crew of volunteers trained through the Rutgers Master Gardeners Program works with Cowie throughout the year to prune, maintain and monitor the health of the cherry trees… The master gardeners started volunteering in the park after they took a pruning class with Cowie. The volunteers receive training through the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station as part of a national program to increase environmental awareness and share university research with the public. Their work in Branch Brook Park helps fulfill their mission of public outreach and education, said Jan Zientek, a department head for the experiment station who advises the master gardeners in Essex County.

Read the entire article at www.thejerseytomatopress.com »

Rutgers VETS Program Graduates Inaugural Class


VETS Program graduates and Rutgers trainers. Top Row: Jackie Long, Irvinia Moody, Jason Baker, Isaac Ezirim, Jan Zientek; Middle Row: Amy Rowe, Rodney Spencer; Front Row: Shawn Rhagnanan, Wendy Huggins, Verdie Williamson, Robert Robinson, Matt Smith

VETS Program graduates and Rutgers trainers. Top Row: Jackie Long, Irvinia Moody, Jason Baker, Isaac Ezirim and Jan Zientek; Middle Row: Amy Rowe and Rodney Spencer. Front Row: Shawn Rhagnanan, Wendy Huggins, Verdie Williamson, Robert Robinson and Matt Smith

Unique partnership among a university, a church and companies makes a difference for unemployed veterans in Newark

It was a proud moment at the Willing Heart Community Care Center in Newark, NJ, on March 3, where 12 local veterans graduated as the inaugural class of the Rutgers Veterans Environmental Technology and Solutions (VETS) program.

Each of the veterans had stories to share of struggle after returning from service, with limited opportunities to earn a living. When some entered the program last May, they were unemployed and had nowhere else to turn. [Read more…]

Former Essex County Agriculture Agent John Kupcho Honored For Distinguished Service to Agriculture

L-R: Richard Norz, President of the NJ State Board of Agriculture, John Kupcho and NJ Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.

L-R: Richard Norz, President of the NJ State Board of Agriculture, John Kupcho and Douglas Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture. Photo courtesy of NJDA.

Douglas H. Fisher

Source: New Jersey Department of Agriculture

John (Jack) Kupcho of West Caldwell, retired Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County Agricultural Agent, was honored February 4 with a Distinguished Service Citation to New Jersey Agriculture at the State Agricultural Convention held in Atlantic City.

“Jack Kupcho changed the way farmers do business in New Jersey, helping to guide the industry toward direct marketing and high value crops,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “The state agriculture industry owes a lot to Jack. He has been an innovator who has inspired younger agriculture agents as well as farmers.”

Jack Kupcho (GSNB – Soils and Crops ’74) earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Tennessee. He received his Master of Science in Environmental Science and Urban Planning from Rutgers University. He currently holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Rutgers. [Read more…]