Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County celebrates new graduating class

The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County added 19 new members in a graduation ceremony at the NJAES Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office on Milltown Road in Bridgewater. Rutgers Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture programs and information to Somerset County residents.

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Researchers work on chestnut tree hybrid that can thrive in N.J. woods

They were among New Jersey’s tallest trees, majestically rising 120 feet from the forest floor. Their rot-resistant wood was prized to make shingles, railroad ties, telegraph poles – and coffins. Their nuts, which fell with reliable abundance each fall, not only provided food for wildlife, but also served as a cash crop for some people, who collected and sent the nuts to New York and other cities, where they were roasted and sold on street corners… The effort by Rutgers to study a protected stand of American chestnuts and American-Asian hybrids is taking place at Duke Farms in Somerset County. Workers removed stands of Norway maple and other invasive trees from the grounds several years ago, leaving gaps in the forest. The Rutgers research team, led by Brad Hillman, a plant pathologist and biologist, decided to use those gaps to plant chestnut trees. In November 2010, they planted 270 saplings that had been grown from seed in a greenhouse. So far, none are showing signs of blight, said Christina Kaunzinger, a senior ecologist at Rutgers.

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GARDENER STATE: Jersey Fresh: Loud and proud!

Jersey Fresh. Now, you might be thinking this may be more about that stray salad item that landed on your lap or the food fight tomato or pie in the face? While those may be embarrassing or even a bit funny, this is really about promoting NJ agriculture long before your backyard garden is ready for harvest… Now that the onion grass has started poking through your lawn and thoughts of gardeners everywhere turn to tilling the great outdoors, Rutgers Master Gardener programs across the state have opened their Garden Helplines. With weekday hours available for calls, emails, and of course walk-in gardening and landscape questions, these trained volunteers of Rutgers Cooperative Extension will research and assist in finding the solution to insect, disease, soil health, and many other seasonal questions.

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4-H youth from 13 N.J. counties learn about leadership

A group of 41 4-H members from 13 counties will be participating in the Discover the Leader in You! 4-H Leadership Conference being held Saturday on the George H. Cook Campus at Rutgers University in New Brunswick in Middlesex County. The conference provides an opportunity for middle school age youth to learn about and develop leadership knowledge and skills through large and small group interactive workshops and hands-on activities, according to Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

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GARDENER STATE: Just a few cures for your cabin fever

Are you suffering from extreme irritability and restlessness during these post-holiday weeks with seemingly no one visiting and nothing to do? The tree is long recycled or boxed and the lights and decorations are all put away. And even your New Year’s resolutions just seem like nasty reminders of things you haven’t done yet, and possibly give up on. There are plenty of post-holiday events, programs, destinations, and happenings that have nothing to do with winter, but everything to do with getting you out and about and thinking more about where you are, what you’re standing on, and what’s up above. The Gardener State column is written by Nicholas Polanin, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

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Somerset County Teens to Attend National 4-H Congress

Somerset County 4-H member James Meier has been selected to attend National 4-H Congress scheduled for Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in Atlanta… James will be part of the New Jersey delegation of 17 teen 4-H members from nine counties (Atlantic, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic and Somerset)… National 4-H Congress is the premiere national educational and recognition event for the 4-H youth development program. For over 90 years, youth from the United States and its territories have participated in this youth leadership development conference… The theme for 2015 event is "Excite, Spark, Ignite." The conference will focus on the Cooperative Extension System’s belief that young people can be significant partners in addressing the issues that face our nation, especially those affecting youth. The educational programs were developed for National Congress by a design team of youth and adults from around the country… The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

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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…]

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…]

Third Graders and the Rutgers Master Gardeners “Seeds to Salad” Team Harvest Bountiful Crops at Whiton Elementary

In mid June the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County completed their Seeds to Salad program with third graders at Whiton Elementary school located in Branchburg… It took many weeks of preparation to reach the much anticipated “Harvest Day.” In early spring the children planted various types of lettuce, radishes, beets, arugula, Swiss chard, carrots, spinach, onions and were also instructed in how and why it is important to weed, thin and transplant their crops as the plants grew. Master Gardeners also presented weekly lectures about several topics such as soil and soil temperature, “good bugs/bad bugs,” worms, tropism and much more… For many children “Harvest Day” was a highlight as they pulled up all the vegetables they had grown and shortly afterwards enjoyed consuming them at the “Salad Extravaganza” party. The program was a hit with third graders, their teachers and volunteers alike.

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Dias Receives the President’s Volunteer Service Award

Madara Dias of Bridgewater, an 11th grade member of the Somerset County 4-H Youth Development Program, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award… The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama. Somerset County 4-H Youth Development, part of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, nominated Dias for national honors this fall in recognition of her volunteer service… The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County, an off-campus division of Rutgers University. The 4-H Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to enable youth to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to become competent, caring and contributing citizens of the world. This is accomplished by using the knowledge and resources of caring adults. The goals of the 4-H Youth Development Program are to: provide informal, educational programs for youth in grades K-13 (one year out of high school);eEncourage responsibility, community awareness and character development in youth; strengthen skills for adults working with youth through publications and training; and improve community partnerships and collaborations.

Read the entire article at www.mycentraljersey.com »