April 2020

We hope this email finds you and your family safe and well during these challenging times. In keeping with social distancing standards set by the state of New Jersey, the Ocean County Soil Conservation District has been working diligently to create no-contact online education and outreach programs.
In lieu of our 23rd Annual Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable we have created a "Remote Roundtable" instead. We invite you to visit our website and explore an array of lessons, activities, videos and podcasts aligned with this year's Roundtable theme: "Happy Earth Day for the Next Generation, Full STEAM Ahead!". The lessons and activities engage students through S cience, T echnology, E ngineering, A rt and M ath, and many lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.
Join us on Earth Day, April 22, at 3:00pm, for a live webinar featuring our Roundtable Keynote Speaker, Kelly Gill, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation . Kelly will discuss the importance of pollinator conservation for the next generation. Pre-registration required.

Please visit the Ocean County Soil Conservation District Remote Roundtable webpage for more information.
Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day - What Have We Accomplished, Where Do We Go From Here?
April 22, 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans engaged in peaceful protest to voice their concerns about the ongoing environmental destruction of our planet and inaction of our legislators.
Earth Day is now recognized as the largest civic event on behalf of our planet, and led to the passage of landmark environmental laws including the Clean Air , Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts . Many nations adopted similar laws at the time. Despite the many successes, these efforts have not been enough. Today, we face enormous challenges including habitat destruction, plastic pollution and clean water shortages.
For many, technology has eased the hardships of life, but at what cost? New Jersey has lost 40% of its wetlands, 35% of the Pine Barrens, and only fragments of our state's natural shoreline remain. We are poised to be the first state in the nation to reach "build-out".
Habitat Loss
Habitat loss is the number one factor causing species extinction. Habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation of grasslands, forests and wetlands is pushing wildlife to the edge; and for many, to the point of no return. Human communities are replacing entire ecosystems.
Plastic Pollution
We are living in a plastic world. We see plastics on the roadside, washed ashore on our beaches and in our woodlands. These plastics continue to break down to microscopic sizes and are consumed by fish, birds and other wildlife. Studies show that people also consume plastics!
Clean Water Shortages
On average, NJ residents use 70 gallons of water each day. During peak water use, this amount rises to 155 gallons. In addition, pesticides and chemical fertilizers runoff our lawns and into nearby water bodies. This causes toxic algae blooms, or "eutrophication". Changing human behavior is paramount for a healthy society!
Local Action - We Can All Do Our part! Fortunately, there are many things we can do that will benefit the planet, human health, and our future.
Jersey-Friendly Yards
Create habitat! Backyards don't have to be a chemical desert. Replace your lawn with native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and your favorite flowering perennials. Learn how to select native plants appropriate for the conditions in your yard using the Jersey-Friendly Plant Database on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website.
Barnegat Bay Blitz
Help pick-up the trash! Volunteer your time as a team captain or be a participant in the Barnegat Bay Blitz, an annual watershed-wide citizen clean-up event, organized by the Barnegat Bay Partnership. This year's Blitz is tentatively set for September. (Please stay tuned for the most updated information regarding this year's Blitz.)
Water Conservation
Changing our behavior is paramount. Become a conscientious water user at home and in the garden. Landscape your yard using drought tolerant native plants. Minimize water usage on your lawn, and install a moisture sensor. Or, replace your lawn with a Jersey-Friendly garden!
Global Environmental Priorities: Climate Action! Each year, Earth Day Network , the original organizers of Earth Day, selects an environmental priority to engage the global public. No topic stands out more prominently than Climate Action .
The pressing issue of climate change has manifested through worldwide natural disasters at an unprecedented rate. The 2015 Paris Agreement , which opened for signature on Earth Day 2016, and entered into force on November 4, 2016, requires participating nations to step-up their commitments to the Agreement on climate change by the end of 2020. The enormous global threats humanity faces require a unified global response. The question remains, what are humans willing to do to reverse course?

4th Annual Jersey-Friendly Yards Conference
October 17, 2020
SAVE-THE-DATE for our 4th Annual Jersey-Friendly Yards Conference on Saturday, October 17, 2020. This year's conference theme is Wild About Jersey-Friendly Yards! Speakers will discuss the importance of backyard habitat for wildlife. Join us and learn how to create healthy habitat for wildlife in your Jersey-Friendly Yard.
Stay tuned for more information about online educational opportunities. Remember, stay home, stay safe and save lives!

Ocean County Soil Conservation District
For more information about education programs and events pertaining to soil, water, conservation and native gardening, please contact Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District: education@soildistrict.org . Or visit the Education pages on our website: https://www.soildistrict.org/educational-programs/