February 2020
Soil is the foundation of all life on earth! Attend one of OCSCD's educational programs, or engage with our many environmental education partners throughout Ocean County. Experience nature at its roots!
Seed Swap Day at Insectropolis
Insectropolis, the "Bugseum" of New Jersey, is hosting their 2nd annual "Community Seed Swap Day" on Sunday, January 26, 11am-2pm. Join Ocean County Soil Conservation District and an array of environmental and garden-focused organizations for seed swapping, workshops, demonstrations, exhibits and more. Bring seeds to swap or purchase some from onsite vendors. FREE! Location: Insectropolis, 1761 Route 9, Toms River, 08755. For more information contact (732) 349-7090 or visit www.insectropolis.com.
Build a Better Yard: Jersey-Friendly Yards Program Series
The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve is hosting a 2020 series of Jersey-Friendly Yards programs in collaboration with OCSCD and Barnegat Bay Partnership. Gain knowledge about selecting appropriate native plants, water conservation and other sustainable gardening practices. Attend one, or all 4 programs. Location: Cousteau Coastal Center at 130 Great Bay Blvd., Tuckerton. To register contact Kaitlin Gannon (609) 812-0649 x206 or gannon@marine.rutgers.edu

February 3, 6:00-7:30pm: The Importance of a Healthy Watershed. An introduction on watersheds, as well as green infrastructure, pollution reduction, and bay water quality monitoring.

February 10, 6:00-7:00pm: Jersey-Friendly Yards. How to choose the right native plants using the Jersey-Friendly Yards website.

February 17, 6:00-7:00pm: Start With Healthy Soil. Learn about the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of soil, soil testing, plus the fundamentals of composting.

February 24, 6:00-7:00pm: Water Wisely. Water conservation techniques, as well as storm water management, rain barrels, rain gardens and more.
Great Backyard Bird Count
It's free, it's fun, it helps scientific research! Join Ocean County Parks & Recreation naturalists and the Barnegat Bay Partnership at this Great Backyard Bird Count event at Cattus Island County Park on Saturday, February 15, from 8:30am-11:00am. Naturalists will begin with a short talk about how to spot and identify bird species that spend the winter here, followed by a bird walk and count. Everyone from beginning bird enthusiasts to expert birders are welcome. Please dress appropriately for the weather and bring binoculars if you have them (there will be some binoculars available for sharing). For more information contact Karen Walzer (732) 255-0472 ext. 2 or kwalzer@ocean.edu
Poster Contest for Kids
The NJ Conservation Poster Contest is an annual contest sponsored by the  NJ Department of Agriculture, the  New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts and the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. It aims to promote a better understanding of the connection between natural resources and humans, in a fun and creative way that engages students throughout the county, state and nation. It is open to all students from grades 2-12. The 2020 theme is: "Where would we BEE without Pollinators?" The Ocean County Grand Champion Winner will receive a $50 cash prize.  Find out more about the contest, the prizes and how to enter. All Ocean County entries must be received by  March 1. Contact Becky Laboy (619) 971-7002 ext. 114 education@soildistrict.org 
Program Series: Get the Dirt on Your Soil!
Healthy lawns and gardens start with healthy soil. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County is hosting a 2020 series of programs focusing on SOIL. Learn more about your soil and how to keep it healthy. Attend 1, 2, Location: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, 1623 Whitesville Road, Toms River, 08755. Please register by calling (732) 505-3671 or tbecker@co.ocean.nj.us Nonrefundable program fee of $10 each day.
March 4, 6:00-8:00pm:

Start with Healthy Soil: Don't treat your soil like dirt! This program will teach you the basics about your soil, so you can start building a healthy foundation for your garden! Presented by Becky Laboy, OCSCD

Get the Lay of Your Land: Learn more about the soil under your feet at home. We will walk you through the Web Soil Survey to map your yard or garden's soil. Presented by Dr. Steve Yergeau, Rutgers Extension of Ocean & Atlantic Counties
April 16, 6:00-8:00pm

Digging Deeper: What's Your Soil Telling You?
Get the scoop on your soil by taking a soil test! Come find out the importance of testing your soil, how to conduct a soil test, and how to interpret the results to keep your lawn and garden healthy and happy. Presented by Dr. Stephanie Murphy, Director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory
May 14, 6:00-8:00pm

Root Out Soil Compaction: Soil compaction is a major problem impacting your yard and garden. Come learn about what causes compaction, how it affects soil health, and how to correct soil compaction in the home landscape. Presented by Dr. Steve Yergeau, Rutgers Extension of Ocean & Atlantic Counties
Sights and Sounds of the Pines
Joel M. Mott IV, Principal Programs Specialist of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, will offer a virtual walk in the woods showcasing the flora and fauna of the Pinelands. The talk will focus on the importance of water to the area's vegetation, as well as the cultural and historical resources of the region, while revealing this unique but fragile treasure. Thursday, March 5, 6:30-8:00pm in the Mancini Room at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington Street, Toms River, 08753. Sponsored by the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey and the Barnegat Bay Partnership. For questions and information contact Karen Walzer, Public Outreach Coordinator for the Barnegat Bay Partnership,  kwalzer@ocean.edu (732) ext. 114
Pinelands Short Course: Combating Climate Change with a Jersey-Friendly Yard
The NJ Pinelands Commission will once again host their annual Pinelands Short Course - a day-long event featuring educational presentations that explore the unique history, ecology and culture of the Pinelands. OCSCD and Barnegat Bay Partnership are teaming-up to present "Combating Climate Change with a Jersey-Friendly Yard". Learn about the challenges that climate change poses to the residential landscape and how to mitigate the impacts.  March 14. Location: Stockton University 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205. Cost: Adult: $50, Senior: $45, Student: $45. For more information, contact Joel Mott (609) 684-7300, ext. 125 or  info@pinelands.nj.gov
Jersey-Friendly Yards
This program features spring planting and landscaping tips designed for homeowners that offer easy, yet comprehensive information about creating a healthy and sustainable backyard using native plants.  March 25, 2:00-3:00pm. Location: Berkeley Branch of the Ocean County Library, 30 Station Road, Bayville, 08721. Please register through the Library. Free! For more information, contact Becky Laboy education@soildistrict.org or (609) 971-7002 ext. 114.
Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist Program, Spring 2020
If you enjoy learning about wildlife, ecology and traditions of the Barnegat Bay, and sharing what you've learned with others, then the Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist Program is for you! Registration is now open for the Spring 2020 training course offered by the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) through the Ocean County College Continuing & Professional Education Department. Orientation begins April 8, 7-9pm. Field trips take place on Saturdays, lectures are on Wednesday evenings. More details, including exact dates, times and cost can be found on the BBP website. Or contact Karen Walzer, kwalzer@ocean.edu or (732) 255-0472.
Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable
SAVE THE DATE, April 22, celebrate Earth Day with us at OCSCD's 23rd Annual Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable! Engage in a variety of workshops and field trips that support STEM/STEAM-based activities and Next Generation Science Standards. Keynote Speaker, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Kelly Gill of Xerces Society will address pollinator conservation efforts through education. Event highlights also include networking opportunities, resource sharing, light dinner and dessert, and door prizes. Cost: $25. For more information or to register visit our website, or contact Becky Laboy (609) 971-7002, ext. 114 or  education@soildistrict.org
2020 Rain Barrel Challenge!
The Barnegat Bay Partnership is taking the lead on organizing the NJDEP's Rain Barrel Challenge. This is an annual art competition with an environmental theme for schools and youth organizations. The Rain Barrel Challenge aims to educate young people about the Barnegat Bay and its 660-square mile watershed and engage them in stewardship actions. The 2020 theme is: "Earth Day - Celebrating 50 Years of Protecting Our Planet!" Visit the BBP's website to learn more, or contact Karen Walzer, BBP's Public Outreach Coordinator, kwalzer@ocean.edu or (732) 255-0472 ext. 2.
Conservation Conversation
Soil is the Foundation of Life on Earth!
Soil Health:
Soil is a living, dynamic resource that supports life. Soil is healthy if it breathes, transforms nutrients, interacts with the environment and purifies toxic substances. Healthy soil is imperative for the successful implementation of "green infrastructure improvement" projects in Ocean County and elsewhere. Soil acts as a filter as it regulates the flow and storage of nutrients, pesticides and other compounds that are dissolved in water. We depend upon soil to perform vital environmental functions that result in clean air, clean water, diverse wildlife habitat and beautiful landscapes.
Downer Soil Series:
Just as New Jersey has a state bird (the American Goldfinch), New Jersey has a state soil. It's called "Downer". Downer soils are well-drained soils formed in loamy fluviomarine deposits in the North Atlantic Coastal Plain. Downer soils naturally support woodlands that include oak, pine, hickory, sassafras, dogwood and holly. Downer soils are desirable to people for growing field crops, vegetables, flowers, fruit trees and other agricultural uses.

Soils Vary:
Soil types vary from place to place and each type has both inherent and dynamic properties that set them apart. Inherent properties reflect the natural ability of soil to function based on what it was "born with" through soil formation processes such as parent material, climate, texture, drainage class or depth to bedrock. These properties are not easily changed or altered by use and management. In contrast, dynamic soil properties reflect human induced changes and are related to how the soil is managed.
Soil Supports Life:
Soils provide habitat for animals that live underground (from groundhogs and mice, to worms and fungi), which account for most of the living things on earth. Soil is capable of supporting plant life, and therefore plays an essential role in the earth's food web. Things that we depend on and need most for daily living include food, clothing, shelter, water and air. Consider how each of these basic needs depend on soil. Without soil, there would be no life on earth!
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, (609) 971-7002 ext. 114, or education@soildistrict.org . Or visit the Education pages on our website: https://www.soildistrict.org/educational-programs/