Rutgers Cooperative Extension 2014 Annual Conference Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Smith-Lever Act

Rutgers Cooperative Extension 2014. Photo: Jeff Heckman

Rutgers Cooperative Extension 2014. Photo: Jeff Heckman

The 2014 Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Annual Conference convened on October 20 in the Cook Student Center. With 223 in attendance, this has been one of the largest RCE conferences to date, growing in recent years with SNAP-Ed/EFNEP members in attendance and the Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) joining the fold.

For 2014, the conference incorporated special activities to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which officially created the national Cooperative Extension System. Rachel Lyons, interim chair of the Department of 4-H Youth Development, served as presenter for the conference. [Read more...]

Ken Able Honored with NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation Award

Ken Able addressing a local group with a focus on fish and fisheries research at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station.

Ken Able addresses a local fisheries group at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station in Tuckerton, NJ.

Ken Able, distinguished professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences and director of Rutgers University Marine Field Station (RUMFS) at Tuckerton, NJ, was chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award from NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation.

“The Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award is the most prestigious award in the country given in recognition of an individual’s contributions to the restoration and conservation of marine and coastal habitats,” said Rich Lutz, director of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers. “What a wonderful honor it is for Rutgers to have one of its most sterling scientists recognized as the worthy recipient of this year’s Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award.”

Able’s research at RUMFS focuses on the life history and population dynamics of larval and juvenile fishes in the relatively undisturbed Mullica River–Great Bay estuary and along the east coast of the U.S. In 1989, Able introduced weekly monitoring of larval and juvenile fishes in the estuary. This weekly monitoring, which continues today by RUMFS, is part of a broader analysis of issues of habitat quality for estuarine fishes in natural and impacted estuaries that stretches from New York Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Habitat conservation and restoration are increasingly important issues in the management of the nation’s coastal resources and for that reason, my colleagues and I from the Rutgers University Marine Field Station feel particularly honored by this award,” said Able.

[Read more...]

N.J. Legislature Honors Rutgers on the 150th Anniversary of its Designation as the State’s Land-Grant Institution

L-R: Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16), Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), Robert M. Goodman, Executive Dean of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), Sen. Nick Scutari (D-22), Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney hold a joint N.J. Legislature resolution that honors Rutgers on the 150th anniversary of its designation as the state’s land-grant institution

L-R: Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16), Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), Robert M. Goodman, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), Sen. Nick Scutari (D-22), Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney on the floor of the New Jersey Senate.

The New Jersey Legislature commemorated the 150th anniversary of Rutgers’ designation as the land-grant institution for the state of New Jersey by passing a joint resolution in the Senate on Sept. 22.

In 1862, Congress passed the Land-Grant College Act, a landmark statute also known as the Morrill Act, which established a system of land-grant colleges in each state to train students in the mechanical arts and agriculture. In 1864, the New Jersey Legislature designated Rutgers College the land-grant institution for New Jersey following the efforts of two Rutgers College professors to have Rutgers named the state’s land-grant college, prevailing over Princeton and the State Normal School in Trenton. [Read more...]

Where the Weeds Are: Plant Biodiversity in Rutgers Parking Lots

Rutgers undergraduate Alisa Sharma and doctoral student Lauren Frazee examine weeds in a parking lot on the George H. Cook Campus.

Rutgers undergraduate Alisa Sharma and doctoral student Lauren Frazee examine weeds in a parking lot on the George H. Cook Campus. Photo: Paula Walcott-Quintin.

The idea of investigating weeds in a parking lot may not look very exciting, but to a botanist –and especially to an urban ecologist interested in plants and biodiversity – this car-filled area represents an extreme, urban treasure trove of thriving and flowering plants. These are mostly the same species as those pesky weeds that spring up in the cracks of our driveways at home that we can’t wait to remove with the latest weed killer. Yes, those very weeds. Hundreds of species bear seeds, produce flowers and propagate in parking lots all over the country, but not much is known about their survival and persistence.

In the spring of 2014, Lauren Frazee, Ph.D. student in the graduate program of Ecology and Evolution, found herself taking on a project investigating the biodiversity of weeds in Rutgers parking lots that was launched in 2012 by Lena Struwe, associate professor in the departments of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources as well as Plant Biology and Pathology, and her other graduate student, Jennifer Blake-Mahmud. A global botanist, Struwe is one of two co-advisors to Frazee in her doctoral program, along with Steven Handel, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources.

Frazee’s interest is in urban plants and how urbanization affects plant life. “Parking lots are fascinating, since they can serve as a proxy for answering many questions about extremely disturbed urban ecosystems.” [Read more...]

Rutgers Wraps Up Annual STEM Enrichment Program for Underserved Youth

Participants enjoy the closing luncheon of the sixth annual Rutgers Summer Science Program.

Participants gather before the start of the closing luncheon for this year’s Rutgers Summer Science Program.

The sixth annual Rutgers Summer Science Program, sponsored by Samsung, held its closing luncheon on July 11 at the Neilson Dining Hall on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick, wrapping up a weeklong campus enrichment experience for over 60 high school students, grades 9 to 12, from across New Jersey. This year’s cohort was drawn from Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties.

It’s hard to imagine when you experience this smoothly-run luncheon for the teens and their families, complete with student poster presentation lining the walls of the dining hall that this pre-college residential program for teens from underserved communities across New Jersey did not exist six years ago.

Chad Ripberger, Rutgers 4-H agent from Mercer County, co-founded this program with his colleague Janice McDonnell, 4-H SET agent, creating an active, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) environment for youth in a campus setting. Following a week of activities, taught by Rutgers faculty and graduate students on a range of topics, the teens return to their local communities as newly-minted Ambassadors, armed with a number of skills that they will pass on to other youths in their home communities. [Read more...]