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2013 Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Kenneth J. Osterman
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Nurseryman Ken Osterman has devoted his life to agriculture and his community. Osterman graduated from Middlesex High School in 1965 and completed college courses in Ornamental Horticulture and Business Administration. After active duty in the United States Marine Corps, he rejoined Osterman Nursery in Middlesex and Neshanic in 1971. At that time, the family business offered design/build landscape contracting. The 250-acre, permanently preserved farm now specializes in the production of specimen-sized ornamental trees and flowering shrubs for the wholesale market.
Osterman has been active in agriculture industry and community organizations since the 1970s. He served with distinction on the Executive Board of the New Jersey Association of Nurserymen, now known as the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association for nine of his 20- plus years of membership, chairing the Market Development Committee for three years, leading the association in developing new markets for membership development, as well as wholesale and retail markets for its members.
Ken has continually served as a member of the Somerset County Board of Agriculture since 1988 with a stint as President from 1991 to 1993. He formed the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County Advisory Board in 1991 and was its first president. After 21 years of membership, he is again the president. He served on the Rutgers Food Innovation Center Advisory Board. He continues to serve on the Hillsborough Township Agricultural Advisory Committee and is a New Jersey Farm Bureau director.
He was a member of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Board of Managers from 2000 to 2006 and served as president from 2003 to 2005. He rejoined the board last year.
Osterman has played a major role in many aspects of New Jersey’s agriculture industry over the years, from leadership within the University and Experiment Station, searching for Cooperative Extension faculty, to adding a calm and consistent voice to advisory boards and assisting in policy and legislation formulation. He has been a great steward of the land, working to continue preservation efforts and agricultural viability and sustainability all across New Jersey.
For Ken’s many contributions to the Garden State’s agriculture industry, he is a recipient of the 2013 State Board of Agriculture Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.