Announcement by Laura J. Lawson, Interim Executive Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Interim Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
Dear SEBS and NJAES community,
I am delighted to announce Lauren Errickson will be the new director of Rutgers Gardens, effective January 3, 2022.
For the past five years, Lauren has been part of our Rutgers Cooperative Extension team and has been engaged in the development, management, and evaluation of multifaceted nutrition, agriculture, and food access programs, including the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market and Community Gardens, Rutgers Against Hunger, RU Ready to Farm: Getting Rooted in the Garden State, and What’s the Catch? New Jersey Seafood and Healthy Living. Lauren has worked in our home community of New Brunswick with city government, houses of worship, schools, cultural organizations, and senior centers – focusing on food, art, and the environment – to increase community engagement with Rutgers.
Lauren’s practical experience working with volunteers and collaborating with nonprofit organizations prepares her to lead our collective efforts to support Rutgers Gardens as a place of peace, beauty, safety, and enjoyment for all our visitors. She also comes prepared with business and management skills from her previous roles in environmental education and agriculture, including running an organic, off-grid, horse-powered farm with her husband.
Lauren is nearing completion of her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers, after having earned a M.S. in Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire and a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Stockton University. She has taught ecology, environmental studies, water resources, and health-focused courses at Rutgers and other universities. Lauren has secured funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, City Green: Garden State Good Food Network, and other organizations and individual donors. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed publications, such as the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development; Journal of Extension; and the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Rutgers Gardens remains a critical contributor to Rutgers’ commitment to diversity and inclusion. As we strengthen our educational and outreach capacity at the Gardens, post-pandemic, we are committed to expanding the diversity of its visitors and researchers and intentionally engaging and welcoming people who may not historically have known about this amazing green space. The 180-acre has evolved over time from research farm to public garden, and today embraces biodiversity via its gardens and plant collections. Just as natural systems benefit from diversity, the Gardens will prosper as a welcoming and beloved place that fosters community through respectful and responsive inclusion.
As Director of Rutgers Gardens, Lauren is looking forward to connecting with the people, plants, and ecology of this special place, while being responsible for leading the Gardens as an example of the Rutgers land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service in the 21st Century. Please join me in welcoming Lauren.
I also want to thank Ariana Arancibia for her work at the Gardens. Ariana has decided to move on to other endeavors and we wish her the very best.