April 2021
In 2021 we celebrate the 69th year of the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. We remain committed to building and sustaining a conservation legacy by working with our partners and constituents to conserve, protect and restore our soil, water and natural resources by providing technical assistance, implementing restoration projects, and most importantly through education.
Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable
Professional Development for Educators
Please join us online or in-person for our annual signature event! Our Environmental Educators Roundtable theme for 2021 is, Inspiration for a Jersey-Friendly School Yard. With the help of our talented partners, OCSCD has put together a suite of Jersey-Friendly Yards inspired programs, designed specifically for teachers and environmental educators, that will guide you towards the creation of a Jersey-Friendly School Yard. This year's hybrid event will offer 3 online Wednesday afternoon webinars and 3 in-person Saturday morning Gardens & Grounds Tours, between April 14 and May 1. All programs are free! View program descriptions and register for webinars and tours on our website.
What's Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard?
Join us for our 2021 Jersey-Friendly Yards Webinar Series
In partnership with Barnegat Bay Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, Ocean County Soil Conservation District is excited to co-host our 2021 Jersey-Friendly Yards webinar series: What's Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard? This series of 6 monthly webinars focuses on the importance of "bugs" as a vital component of the backyard ecosystem. Presenters will share knowledge about the relationships between native plants and insects, how to identify beneficial insects as well as manage pests, and offer ways to create ecologically sound backyard habitat that supports bugs and the wildlife that depend on them for survival. Webinars take place from January through June, on the second Tuesday of each month, at 7:00pm. Free! Registration is required, click on program links below. For more information and to view previously recorded webinars visit the Jersey-Friendly Yards website.
April 13, 2021
Presented by Paul Kurtz, Entomologist, NJ Department of Agriculture
The invasion has begun! Two non-native species: spotted lanternfly and Asian crazy-worms have already made it into New Jersey’s agriculture, yards, gardens, and forests. Learn the tools to how you can fight back, including their identification, biology, impacts, research, and control measures. The talk will also include how non-native pests have a serious negative impact on ecosystems and their health.
May 11, 2021
Presented by Heather Holms
Most insects have a positive impact in our landscapes. Native plants can be selected to attract specific bees and beneficial insects including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings. Learn about the predator-prey relationships of these flower-visiting beneficial insects and how they help keep problem insect populations in balance. The life cycles, diversity, and nesting habitat of native bees will also be discussed along with examples of native plants for different site conditions.
June 8, 2021
Presented by Pat Sutton
This primer to the winged jewels known as dragonflies and damselflies will cover the most common species, their natural history (life cycle, seasonality, what they prey on, and who preys on them), and how to identify one from another. Sutton, a long-time successful wildlife gardener, will share how to lure these ferocious mosquito predators into your own yard by creating a no-fuss wildlife pond.
Get More Dirt on Your Soil!
Spring 2021 Webinar Series
The Get More Dirt on Your Soil - Spring 2021 Webinar Series is presented by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County and the Ocean County Soil Conservation District, as a follow-up to our 2020 soil webinar series: Get the Dirt on Your Soil. Healthy lawns and gardens start with healthy soil. Join this new webinar series to learn more about your soil and how to keep it healthy. Three new presenters will share their knowledge about life in the soil, organic matter as a soil gold mine, and composting at home. Webinars are free! Have questions? Please call 732-505-3671 or email: tbecker@co.ocean.nj.us
An Organic Gold Mine in Your Yard
Thursday, April 15, 7:00pm-8:00pm
SPEAKER: Mr. Fred Schoenagel, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Organic matter is an essential component in soil. Learn about the function organic matter plays and how it can improve the health of garden soil. Plant and animal material we think of as dead - old brown leaves, broken and rotting branches, torn-up roots - are an organic matter gold mine, which feeds soil life and keeps soil healthy. Different forms of organic matter that gardeners can add to a soil will be defined and described. Register
Breaking Ground on Composting 
Wednesday, May 5, 7:00pm-8:00pm
SPEAKER: Ms. Sandra Blain-Snow, Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management
Home composting is an easy way to improve your soil and help feed the organisms that live in it.  Learn how to turn your yard waste into an excellent source of food and shelter for your living soil. Register
Pinelands Short Course
Join us for a "Short Discussion"
Join Paul Leakan and Joel Mott from the Pinelands Commission on Saturday April 24 at 10:00am for an entertaining morning as they speak with fellow Pinelands enthusiasts! During this FREE virtual ZOOM event hear from:
  • Ted Gordon, Botanist and Historian
  • Terry O'Leary, Retired NJ Park and Forest Service Educator
  • John Volpa, Pinelands Outdoor Guide and Retired Teacher
  • Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District
  • Samuel Moore, Cranberry Farmer and Retired NJ Forest Fire Service Warden
*This lively discussion may continue beyond 11:30 a.m. This is a FREE virtual Zoom event. A link will be sent to your email a few days before the event. Register
Grand Champion Winner
Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities
Congratulations to our Grand Champion Winner, David Benson, Grade 5, from Stafford Intermediate School. David wins a $50 cash prize from the Ocean County Soil Conservation District for his winning poster! Our contest theme this year is, "Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities". David states, "If we don't help the forests they will look like the left side [of the poster]. But if we do, the forests will look like the right side." Great job to David and all the kids who participated in this year's Poster Contest. Visit OCSCD's website to view the First Place winners from each grade group, and to view winners from past years' contests. Many thanks to kids, teachers and parents for supporting our contest and our forests! For more information contact Becky Laboy (609) 991-1534 or education@soildistrict.org
Growing the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database
OCSCD is a proud partner of the Jersey-Friendly Yards initiative. The Jersey-Friendly Yards website was developed by the Barnegat Bay Partnership through a grant from the NJDEP. The JFY website provides information, tools, and resources to help property owners make healthy landscaping decisions that ensure clean water resources. The Jersey-Friendly Plant Database offers over 400 species of plants to choose from, and growing! Search for flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses, ferns, groundcovers and vines. Use the filters to select the light, moisture and soil type that match the conditions in your yard. Check-out these latest additions!
St. Andrews's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)

Bright yellow 4-petaled flowers bloom continuously from mid-summer through early fall, attracting bees, butterflies and birds. St. Andrew’s Cross prefers dry to moist, sandy to loamy soil, with a pH range from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. It is a relatively short-lived perennial. Its native habitat includes dry open woodlands and upland slopes. The Coastal Plain of New Jersey is its northern-most range limit. 
Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix)

Spike-like flowers bloom in late summer to early autumn; seedheads resemble a bottle brush and offer interesting texture in the garden. Bottlebrush grass is a hardy native that can withstand a variety of challenging conditions including heavy clay, full shade, alkaline soil and drought, although it perfroms best in part-shade with slightly moist soil. Pair with other part-shade loving plants that like semi-dry soil including Woodland White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Zig-zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) .
Giant Purple Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia)

Purple Giant Hyssop is a tall, late-summer blooming perennial. Purple flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Grows best in moist soil or wet conditions, in rich or sandy soils, in dapled shade, thickets and meadows. Does not tolerate hot dry conditions. It’s 6 foot height makes it a good choice for a back border. Seeds readily propagate and plugs easily transplant. 
Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea)

Dense clumps of soft, fine textured leaves resemble blades of grass. Green spikey flowers bloom for a short period in late spring to early summer, giving-way to attractive seedheads that turn brown and resemble a fox’s tail. Fox Sedge prefers full sun, but can withstand partial shade in consistently moist soils. Fox Sedge is valuable for wetland restoration and erosion control projects. Use it in bioswales, stormwater basins, rain gardens and drainage ditches.
Visit our website: www.SoilDistrict.org
For more information about education programs, events and projects pertaining to soil, water, native gardening and natural resource conservation, please contact Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District: education@soildistrict.org.