Ocean County Soil Conservation District wishes you and your family a safe and memorable holiday, as we celebrate Independence Day.
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.
Invasive Species Removal Project
Barnegat Bay Master Naturalists in Action
Photo: Master Naturalists Anne Tokazewski and Amy Kane, and their families, help remove invasive species at John C. Bartlett County Park, at Berkeley Island. By Becky Laboy
Ocean County Soil Conservation District has teamed-up with Barnegat Bay Partnership to assist with their Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist program. In May, a group of Master Naturalists assisted with an on-going Invasive Species Removal Project at John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park, at Berkeley Island. Building on the work that was done last fall, the Master Naturalists continued to remove the pernicious Mugwort. (Photo: Rich Tomasik, Master Naturalist, by Becky Laboy)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is native to northeastern Asia. It is a perennial herb that forms fast spreading colonies. You've most likely observed it growing on roadsides, trailsides, fields, meadows, pastures, and possibly in your own backyard. Young shoots can be mistaken for Chrysanthemum, as the two species have similar shaped leaves. If left unchecked, this hardy plant will quickly take-over a sunny area and choke-out natives. It tolerates poor soil and is drought tolerant. It can be removed by pulling out the plant by the root, although it's likely some roots will be left behind, enabling further growth the following year. It will take a few years to get Mugwort under control. (Photo: Casey Wolf, Master Naturalist, by Becky Laboy)
Once the Mugwort and other invasive species are removed, there will be more space and resources to allow natives such as Common Boneset, Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Beach Plum (Prunus maritima), Northern Bayberry , as well as naturalized Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa) to expand and establish. We offer many thanks to the Master Naturalist volunteers who offered their time this past spring, as well as last fall, to help with the Invasive Species Removal Project! (Photo: Denise Summers and Barry Schneider, Master Naturalists, by Becky Laboy)

If you're interested in becoming a Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist, or would like to volunteer your time to help with local projects, please contact Karen Walzer, Barnegat Bay Partnership's Public Outreach Coordinator, at
Sustainable Practices for Aquaculture Resources Conservation (SPARC)
2020 A Year in Review
The main goal of SPARC was to initiate conservation planning and technical assistance training for New Jersey coastal bays that emphasizes the natural resource needs and concerns of regional shellfish aquaculture producers and to provide access to various opportunities.  OCSCD used this grant as an initial and necessary first step in establishing a regional and inclusive approach to engaging soil conservation districts in building capacity to achieve fulfillment of an identified natural resource conservation need that focuses on estuarine shellfish farming and coastal aquaculture.

In addition to networking with aquaculture industry professionals, research scientists and NRCS planners, Ms. Adams participated in a total of 54 courses, trainings, and workshops, including the Rutgers Coastal Stewardship Program and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s “Equitable Negotiation on the Coast” course. Considerable time was spent participating in NRCS courses, trainings, nearly 30 field visits, as well as the structure and implementation of NRCS conservation planning. In June 2021, Kristin Adams was approved as an NRCS Apprentice Conservation Planner, indicating completion of all the necessary course work, on the job training and supervisor approved experience/knowledge checks required for this step.

Another goal for the SPARC project was to organize a broad-based Advisory Committee Partnership that connects with local shellfish farmers, primarily within Barnegat and Great Bays, in order to gain a better understanding of their specific natural resource concerns. The District was fortunate to gain the support from a diverse group of devoted partners, including: NRCS, NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ Department of Environmental Protection - Bureau of Shellfisheries, Barnegat Bay Partnership, Long Beach Township, Stockton University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, Parsons Mariculture and Jetty/Jetty Rock Foundation. These partners have and continue to aid in getting the SPARC project off the ground and will be a vital part of future projects in the aquaculture initiative as it evolves.  A dialogue between the District, NJ NRCS and partners has begun regarding the potential adoption of new conservation practice scenarios that would provide additional opportunities for aquaculture producers.  These include oyster reef restoration and setting tanks/raceways for the raising of shellfish larvae. 

NACD TAG2020 – SPARC Year 1 Grant Totals (August 2020 – June 2021)
Grant funded staff hours: 785
OCSCD match funded staff hours: 163
Grant funded staff salary and fringe benefits: $40,800
Grant funded training, travel & equipment: $1,589
OCSCD match funded staff salary and fringe benefits: $11,821
Total training and courses attended: 54
Total farm visits and conservation plans assisted: 27

SPARC has provided OCSCD a unique opportunity to expand its goals, mission and natural resource assistance to the ecosystems in the region. By connecting soil and water conservation efforts, the District has expanded outreach to all user groups that rely on a healthy and thriving watershed, including the aquaculture community.  Ultimately, the work of the District’s Aquaculture Initiative will expand opportunities for shellfish producers and will also help to improve the ecological health of the Barnegat and Great Bay estuaries and ecosystems. Being awarded the NACD’s Technical Assistance Grant for 2021, the District anticipates continued successes of SPARC and looks forward to meeting the needs of the unique aquaculture community in the region.
Jersey-Friendly by Design
Join us for our NEW Jersey-Friendly Yards summer webinar series
Our July-September webinar series, "Jersey-Friendly by Design", will teach you how to use landscape design principles to plan gardens that are both wildlife-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. All programs take place on the second Tuesday of the month, July, August and September, at 7:00pm. Free! Registration required - click each program link below.
July 13, 2021
Presented by Bruce Crawford, State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture, NJ Agricultural Experiment Station
The key to beautiful and healthy Jersey-Friendly Yards landscaping is planning. Bruce Crawford will discuss how to compose attractive native gardens designed to benefit pollinators, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. He will cover the fundamentals of landscape design, including the use of color and texture and concepts for creating outdoor spaces, to help you plan delightful native gardens that support the native web of life! (Photo: Helianthus angustifolium, by Bruce Crawford)
August 10, 2021
Presented by Elaine Silverstein, Horticulturist
Creating a Jersey-Friendly yard requires understanding what a habitat is and how its parts fit together. This program by Elaine Silverstein starts with a basic model of a native habitat garden and describes, step by step, how to create a garden that is both beautiful and welcoming to insects, birds, and other wildlife. The focus is on practical information: what is a native plant? Which native plants are best adapted to my site? How can I find native plants? How do I lay out the garden? How do I care for it once it’s installed? Elaine will provide a Resource List that includes sites to visit, references, and sources of native plants. (Photo: Monarda sp., Oenothera sp., Asclepius sp., by Elaine Silverstein)
September 14, 2021
Presented by Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District
Designing a successful Jersey-Friendly garden begins with an understanding of the basic elements that support plant growth – soil, water and light. Knowing these conditions in your yard will help guide your species selection and your overall garden design. Becky will provide you with information, tools and resources to assess these conditions in your yard, offer suggestions for appropriate plant species selection, and share ways to design your garden based on the soil, water and light conditions in your yard. (Photo: Jersey-Friendly Garden, by Becky Laboy)
Jersey-Friendly Yards
Evesham Green Team Hosting Jersey-Friendly Yards Webinar
The Evesham Green Team will be hosting Jersey-Friendly Yards - Landscaping for a Healthy Community with Native Plants on Tuesday, July 20, at 7pm, presented by Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District. All are welcome to attend this FREE 1 hour webinar, with Q&A. Pre-registration required! (Once registered, you will receive an email confirmation with the link to join the webinar, a few days before the event.) For questions, please contact
Jersey-Friendly Yards
Host Your Own Jersey-Friendly Yards Webinar
Calling all Green Teams, Environmental Commissions and Garden Clubs! Is your "Green Group" interested in hosting a Jersey-Friendly Yards webinar for your constituents? We'll provide a free 1 hour webinar discussing the importance of landscaping for a healthy environment. We'll start by introducing the tools and resources on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website, explain how to get your soil tested, introduce water conservation practices, suggest appropriate native plants, and offer ways to attract and support pollinators and wildlife. Contact Karen Walzer and Becky Laboy to schedule a program.
Attracting Birds to Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
Watch Now on Our YouTube Channel
Native plants are the key to attracting birds to your yard. They provide the habitat, food, shelter and nesting places that birds need to survive. By creating a landscape of beautiful native plants that are compatible with the soil, water and light conditions in your yard, you can create a Jersey-Friendly oasis for the birds! Presented by: Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD, hosted by the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library.
Visit our website:
For more information about education programs, events and projects pertaining to soil, water, native gardening and natural resource conservation, please contact Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District: