March 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.
Soil is the foundation of all life on Earth! Attend one of OCSCD's online educational programs, or engage with our many environmental education partners throughout Ocean County. Visit OCSCD's YouTube Channel to catch-up on programs you may have missed!
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 announce 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 visit the Jersey-Friendly Yards website.

January 12, 2021
Getting to Know the Good Guys: Beneficial Insects in the Landscape
Presented by Sabrina Tirpak

February 9, 2021
Myth Busters: The Truth About What’s Bugging You
Presented by Kelly Gill
March 9, 2021
Presented by Dr. Dan Duran
Simply put: all life on earth depends on insects, for more reasons than most people realize. This talk will explore some of the immeasurably important ways that insects keep ecosystems functioning, including nutrient recycling, pollination services, and trophic interactions. It will also cover ways in which we can conserve much-needed insect diversity in our own yards.
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:
Unearth the Life Beneath Your Feet
Thursday, March 25, 7:00pm-8:00pm
SPEAKER: Dr. Jennifer Adams Krumins, Montclair State University
A healthy soil has a healthy community of critters that live in it!  Learn about the variety, both big and small, of organisms that call soil home and their role in keeping your soil healthy and happy. Register 
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
Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities
Poster Contest for Kids!
Our annual Poster Contest is open to all students from grades 2-12. The 2021 theme is: "Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities". 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 the Ocean County Soil Conservation District, either hand delivered or postmarked, by March 11, 2021. For more information contact Becky Laboy (609) 991-1534 or
OCSCD strives to lead efforts to conserve our soil and water resources by working with homeowners, farmers, public officials, various state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations. Read about our ongoing efforts to restore, protect and conserve natural resources through our various projects and partnerships.
Lakewood Township Stormwater Basin Retrofit Project
Field Analysis for Basin Ranking
The Ocean County Soil Conservation District, in partnership with South Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council, Lakewood Township Department of Public Works and the Camden County Soil Conservation District, has officially begun field analysis to further rank stormwater basins for retrofit potential under the Lakewood Township Stormwater Basin Retrofit Project, funded by a Federal 319(h) Water Quality Restoration grant awarded by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to the South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council (SJRC&D).

On January 28, 2021, OCSCD staff, Ramon Mejia and Luis Almeyda, teamed with Craig McGee, District Manager at Camden County Soil Conservation District and Eileen Miller, Team Habitat Coordinator for South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council, to evaluate 5 stormwater basins. Stormwater basin ranking for retrofit potential was based on a list of characteristics, including the basin’s proximity to waterways or wetlands, soil conditions, type and condition of basin, as well as construction costs, feasibility and potential public acceptance. Selected stormwater basins will have individual retrofit designs targeted to improve both hydrological and ecological functions in an area highly impacted by development.
OCSCD strives to be recognized as a conservation leader with the ability to partner effectively and use every opportunity to further sustainable resource management and restore functioning ecosystem services for current and future residents of Ocean County and beyond. Enjoy the latest news and information from OCSCD!
Organic Matter in the Garden
Healthy soil is a gardener’s friend. By volume, soil is 25% air, 25% water, 45% minerals and 5% organic matter. The composition varies slightly depending on different soil types in various locations. Organic matter, although least in overall percentage of soil composition, is vital to good soil health.

Organic matter performs numerous functions that keep soil healthy. It creates pore spaces to hold water and air, stores and recycles nutrients, promotes soil aggregation and improves soil structure, increases water filtration and water-holding capacity, and provides food and shelter for soil organisms. 
Organic matter can be further broken down into its components: actively decomposing organic matter and organic matter that has been completely decomposed (which is called humus), make up the bulk of organic matter. Fresh plant and animal residue and living organisms are a smaller portion, although vitally important. 

Add organic matter to your garden in the form of compost, leaves, mulch, or a mixture of each. Dig deep and renew your appreciation and understanding of your soil. No time like the present to start planning next season's compost pile. Explore additional soil resources on our website,
Snow Birds Benefit from Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
New Jersey is "south for the winter" for many birds. Although Catbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers all leave our garden state and move further south for the winter, many migrants who travel south stop and spend their winter on the Jersey Shore. Look for White-throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows and Pine Siskins foraging in your backyard. By planting native berry producing shrubs and perennial flowers in your yard (and not trimming the stems in fall), you can ensure there is a natural food source available for the birds. Not sure which plants grow best in your backyard? Browse the 400+ plants in the Jersey-Friendly Yards Plant Database to find the right plant for the right place. Offering seed or peanuts at a feeder provides additional food resources, appreciated by the over-wintering Red-breasted Nuthatch pictured above.
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, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District: