Rutgers Annual “Monster Mash” Had its Origins as a Cook College Event in 2000

The early planning stages of the very first Monster Mash.

The early planning stages of the very first event that evolved into the annual Monster Mash at Rutgers.

In 2000, Justin Gayliard’s (Cook College ‘03) goal to create a safe and fun environment for disadvantaged children in the New Brunswick area to go trick-or-treating was achieved with the inception of what is now an annual Rutgers event known as Monster Mash. As we approach the 2015 event, let’s do the time-hop to remember the early years that started it all on Cook Campus.

What began as Gayliard’s community service project in October 2000 gave 15 children from Edison’s Ozanam Homeless Shelter an incredible Halloween. The event was originally called “Trick-or-Treating for Homeless Children” but was later named “Monster Mash,” after it expanded to a universitywide event based in the Cook/Douglass Recreation Center Gymnasium. [Read more…]

Tree-Killing Emerald Ash Borer Found in Six New Jersey Counties

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

New Jersey Department of Agriculture officials reported the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, is active in 14 towns in six counties.

A trapping program in 82 towns over the summer and reporting from homeowners has resulted in the discovery to date of the beetle in Hillsdale, Bergen County; Edgewater Park and Westampton, Burlington County;  Ewing, Hamilton Township, Hopewell, Princeton, West Windsor., Mercer County; Monroe and South Brunswick, Middlesex County; Bridgewater, Franklin Township and Hillsborough, Somerset County; and Allentown, Monmouth County.

“Just as emerald ash borer has swiftly spread through other states in the nation, it has now moved to New Jersey and we must prepare for the impact of this highly destructive invasive pest, which could lead to the death of ash trees,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “We ask that towns and counties act now to put plans in place to respond to the beetle.” [Read more…]

Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry-Infused Beer? Say Cheers!


Jake Makely in the strawberry fields at the EARTH Center of Middlesex County.

A desire to connect local growers with producers was the driving force behind Jake Makely’s (SEBS ’16) idea to combine two of New Jersey’s favorite warm weather delights, strawberries and beer.

Makely, an agriculture and food systems major, has been a student intern in Applied Analysis of Successful Agricultural Enterprises since February 2014, which has provided him with first-hand experience in working with the Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry (RSS) at the EARTH Center of Middlesex County. The internship, run by Professor and Agricultural Agent Bill Hlubik, truly allows students to pursue their individual aspirations in the “field.”

A series of blind RSS taste-tests were conducted at SEBS professor Beverly Tepper’s Sensory Evaluation Laboratory (SEL) on George H. Cook Campus. Makely, along with other students in the program, picked and cut up pounds of the RSS for the taste tests and delivered them to the lab. Participants were able to comment on the sweetness, acidity, overall flavor, firmness and aroma of four varieties of the strawberry, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.

The wheels in Makely’s head started spinning when he received an email from his second job at Carton Brewing Company in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, about a new device coming to the brewery. The brewery was going to begin using a Randall, which is a double-chamber filter that can be connected to a tap of beer and filled with flavor-enhancing ingredients.

“I kept talking to my co-workers at the Carton Brewing Company about the idea of using Rutgers Scarlet Strawberries in the Randall, but people didn’t take it as seriously as I wanted them to. Then I spoke to Bill (Hlubik) and he was excited about it – and I knew it was a great idea,” said Makely.

“The students in my class are incredible and I genuinely value their feedback. I encourage them to keep a notebook handy while in the field to note trends in crops,” said Hlubik. [Read more…]

Local Moth Night to Kick Off National Moth Week July 18 in Jamesburg Park

A sphinx moth. The Sphingidae family of moths are found throughout the world. Photo by David Moskowitz.

A sphinx moth. The Sphingidae family of moths are found throughout the world. Photo by David Moskowitz.

Nature enthusiasts of all ages are invited to grab their cameras and head over to Port Street alongside Jamesburg Park in East Brunswick, NJ at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, for the kickoff of National Moth Week, sponsored by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission. National Moth Week, celebrated this year from July 18 to 26, shines a spotlight on moths, calling attention to their beauty, biodiversity and ecological importance. It was started in 2012 by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and quickly became an international event attracting citizen scientists in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and over 40 countries.

A Mercury vapor light and white sheet will be set up and a long sugar bait trail will be created to attract moths after dark. The Jamesburg Park Conservation Area is part of the Middlesex County Parks system. It lies within the Spotswood Outlier—the northernmost area of New Jersey Pine Barrens habitat separated from the main area of the Pine Barrens to the south by about 15 miles. This protected area is situated in East Brunswick, Helmetta, Spotswood and Monroe Township. It is rich in vegetation diversity and should be an interesting place to look for moths. [Read more…]

NJ 4-H Members to Attend National 4-H Citizenship Conference

New Jersey 4-H representatives for the 2014 Citizenship Washington Focus Conference

New Jersey 4-H representatives at the 2014 Citizenship Washington Focus Conference

Thirty 4-H members have been selected to represent New Jersey at the 2015 Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) Conference. This conference, now in its 56th year, will be held July 5-11 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Citizenship Washington Focus is a 4-H leadership program for high school youth. Delegations from across the country attend this six-day program at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, located just outside Washington, D.C. The program is aimed at enriching young people’s lives by broadening their appreciation and respect for themselves and others in the world. Participants attend workshops, committee meetings, field trips and social events, giving them hands-on opportunities to learn and grow. They learn and practice skills that will make them better citizens and more successful individuals. [Read more…]