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Rutgers Master Gardeners "Seeds to Salad" Programs Flourish at Whiton and Pine Grove Manor Elementary Schools
Bog Turtle Named State Reptile
DEP Provides $19.4 Million in Clean Communities Grants to Municipalities and Counties
SJ4S: Meet Our June Sustainability Hero
Somerset County 4-H Names 2018 Scholarship Recipients
2018 ED-GRS Honorees Announced
32 Innovative Sustainability Grants Awarded
2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo Wrap-up
Rutgers Master Gardeners "Seeds to Salad" Programs Flourish at Whiton and Pine Grove Manor Elementary Schools             (Posted: 7-10-18)

In June the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County completed their Seeds to Salad program with third graders at Whiton Elementary school located in Branchburg, and with second and third graders at Pine Grove Manor Elementary School in Somerset.

The first half of the program took place in the classroom. Master Gardener volunteers gave interactive presentations introducing children to seeds, soils, making compost and the importance of earthworms and beneficial insects. Some classes planted marigold or bean seeds indoors to give them an early start and began keeping garden journals, carefully noting their observations.

As soon as the weather warmed up, the children, along with their teachers, joined the Master Gardeners in the school garden. They put into practice what they learned in the classroom. The first task included cleaning up and weeding the raised beds. This was followed by planting arugula, beets, onions, lettuce and spinach seeds along with transplanting the marigolds or beans and carrots.

At the beginning of each session, Master Gardeners gave short presentations, underlying the importance of tending the garden through watering, weeding, recognizing insects and disease. They explained the role of sunlight and temperature and talked about different types of roots and stems. Students also learned about the benefits of including herbs and vegetables in their everyday diets.

For many children "Harvest Day" was a highlight as they pulled up the vegetables they had grown and shortly afterwards enjoyed consuming them at "Salad Extravaganza" parties in each school.

Through experiencing a real connection with the environment, students gained respect for nature. They realized the fragility of growing food. The gardening experience provides an alternative way of learning about science and offers a practical exercise on working in teams. Tending their small plots instilled a sense of responsibility in the children. The program was a hit with the youngsters, their teachers and volunteers alike.

The Rutgers Master Gardener program is a volunteer organization of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. Rutgers Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity program provider and employer. Contact your local Extension Office for information regarding special needs or accommodations. Contact the State Extension Director's Office to with concerns related to discrimination, 848-932-3584.

Bog Turtle Named State Reptile             (Posted: 6-25-18)

Governor Murphy designates endangered turtle as State Reptile
F&W Spring/Summer Ridge Banner

DEP Provides $19.4 Million in Clean Communities Grants to Municipalities and Counties             (Posted: 6-11-18)

Click HERE.

SJ4S: Meet Our June Sustainability Hero             (Posted: 6-11-18)

301 Districts     752 Schools     Participating

June Sustainability Hero- Dr. Michael Salvatore, Superintendent Long Branch School District

Dr. Michael Salvatore has served as the Long Branch Superintendent of Schools for more than seven years. Under his leadership, all nine of the Long Branch Public Schools have achieved Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification and have become state and national models. "Our schools live and breathe green," said Dr. Salvatore. "We achieve this by incorporating sustainable principles into our teaching, learning, thoughts and actions."
Read more about Dr. Salvatore and the extraordinary efforts of the Long Branch team here.
50 Experts Lead 12 Sessions at 2018 NJ Sustainability Summit
Session Spotlight: Green Team 2.0 Building Your Capacity and Promoting Your Team
Water, energy, education, waste, social equity - you name it and we have a session planned. A total of 12 sessions will allow you to dig deeper into the dimensions of sustainability. Local leaders will guide each session and review current challenges.  You'll come away with a clear sense of the state of the movement, new ideas about what can be done to make progress, an expanded network of fellow practitioners, and the inspiration to go back and continue to drive change one municipality or school at a time. 

NJ Sustainability Summit: Thursday, June 21, 2018 at The College of New Jersey
More Info and
FINAL Opportunity to Apply for 
2018 Bronze/Silver Certification
June 22nd

If your school is participating in Sustainable Jersey for Schools and would like to be recognized for its sustainability efforts with bronze or silver certification at the October 2018 New Jersey School Boards Association Workshop, please keep in mind that June 22 is the final deadline for certification applications.  Applicants for Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification are supported through the process, with three opportunities to submit applications for review and feedback from January to June.  For more information click here or contact us at  For those looking ahead to 2019, please check out our informative webinar series "Preparing for Certification".
EPA Enviro Atlas Educator Resources

EnviroAtlas interactive tools allow users to discover, analyze, and download data and maps related to ecosystem services, or the benefits people receive from nature.  Ecosystem services underpin most aspects of human well-being, including water, security, and the economy. Check out these resources for your classroom!

EnviroAtlas in the Classroom: New K-16 Lesson Plans that Empower Tomorrow's Decision-makers
EnviroAtlas Educational Materials (Lessons and Case Studies)
EnviroAtlas: Interactive Tool that allows users to discover, analyze and download data and maps related to ecosystem services or the benefits people receive from nature...

August 6-10,  Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY
Join the Cloud Institute for a 5-day curriculum design studio in August, where educators, administrators, and program designers will learn how to design and embed EfS into curricula, assessments, and performance tasks without the need for additional class time!
Held at the beautiful Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, you will get access to expertise, resources, and tools to reorient and enrich curricula. Through working sessions, learning circles, coaching, peer review, and optional mini-sessions, you will create and develop units and protocols that educate for sustainability. Come yourself or bring a team! Register today. Space is limited. Scholarships available through Omega Institute. 
Recordings available here. 
Topics include: Gaining Buy-in for Optimal Ventilation, Mold Moisture & Money, Using Data to Address Asthma in Schools Healthy Schools & Healthy Students: Improving IAQ.
On Demand Food Waste & Recycling Webinars available here. 
Topics include: Systems Thinking, Diversity & Inclusion in Environmental Education, Telling Your Story with Web Mapping Technology, and more!
Upcoming Live Webinars in the series  

We hope you will join us to take steps to create a brighter future, one school at a time!  If you have questions, email us at or visit

Sustainable Jersey for Schools

Somerset County 4-H Names 2018 Scholarship Recipients             (Posted: 5-29-18)

Eleven students have been named recipients of Somerset County 4-H scholarships.  Open to members and alumni of the Somerset County 4-H Youth Development program, the 11 winners will receive a total of $21,000 for their continuing education.

Recipient of the Joseph J. & Florence K. Klimas Scholarship is Camille Duchamp of Princeton; 4-H Trainmasters Scholarship Anthony Siniscalco of Readington, 4-H Alpaca Club Scholarship and Rob Fellows Memorial Scholarship, Bridget Sona from White house Station; 4-H Prep Scholarship, Julie Pirro from Metuchen and Noah Rothenburger of Readington.  Recipients of the Somerset County 4-H Association Scholarships are Kirsten Clerico of Hillsborough, Kate Gallagher of Bridgewater, Alex Norz of Hillsborough, Molly O’Sullivan of Hillsborough, Julie Pirro of Metuchen, Noah Rothenburger of Readington, Ariel Staffin of Bridgewater and Madison Whiting of Somerset.

Kirsten Clerico has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past 13 years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the Little Woofers Club, Woof Club , Grade A Beef Club and Senior Council. In every club, she has held offices ranging from Fundraising Chair to president. She has done public presentations at both the state and national level. In addition, she has attended the North Jersey Teen Conference for four years, Leadership Washington Conference, Citizenship Washington Focus, where she ran the Mock Congress Trial, and the National 4H Congress and Conference. This fall, Kirsten plans to attend Rutgers, where she has decided to study Environmental Science, with a minor in Agricultural Science in college.

Camille Duchamp has been a Somerset County 4-H member for five years and a Junior Leader for two.  Throughout that time she has been a member of the Horsin” Around Club and Teen Horse Council.  Camille is currently a leader of the Horsin’ Around Club and Teen Horse Council. As a leader, Camille has continued to help at many 4-H events such as the Club Carnival, County Fair, and Horse project Tack Sale.  She is very active in researching ideas for 4-H and continues to mentor younger members and motivate them with her sense of humor and understanding of all teens struggles with today.  Camille just graduated from RVCC and this fall, plans to attend Rutgers, where she will be majoring in Education.

Kate Gallagher has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past nine years.  Throughout that time she has been a member of the PAWSabilities Dog Club, Woof Dog Club, Alpaca Club ad Senior Council. Within each of her clubs, Kate has demonstrated strong leadership skills and her passion of mentoring younger members. Her leadership experience ranges from executive positions such as president of the Alpaca Club and vice-president of Woof Dog Club. Often coinciding with her leadership, Kate has gone above-and-beyond to mentor younger members to make them feel comfortable with the dynamics of each respective club, but also to instill confidence in young 4-Hers about their contributions towards the program, as well as achievement of goals.  Kate exudes her passion for the Somerset County 4-H program through various outlets. A youth member who has applied and participated in various county, state, and national conferences; Kate has demonstrated incredible involvement and commitment to see the program grow and improve. Kate will be pursuing degrees in cognitive science and advertising from Indiana University in the fall.

Alex Norz has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past 12 years.  Throughout that time Alex has been a member of New Centre Dairy Club, Branchburg Beef Club, Dairy and Livestock Club, Grade A Beef Club, Udder Club, Exchange Club, Cattle’s Club and 4-H Tops Prep.  Alex has a passion for Agriculture and has been able to use 4-H as a tool to build and grow that passion. Alex will study Agricultural and Diesel Mechanics at the University of Northwestern Ohio in the fall.

Molly O’Sullivan has been a member of Somerset County 4-H for the past six years. Throughout that time she has been a member of the New Centre Dairy Club, Sheepfold Club, Senior Council and Grade A Beef Club. She  has participated in dairy, sheep, market lamb and beef projects, holding club offices such as vice president and historian. And while she has explored several project areas, it is clear her passion is for the dairy industry. Through her experiences with New Centre Dairy, Molly has represented Somerset County and the state of New Jersey at state and national dairy events such as national dairy quiz bowl and national dairy judging contests. Molly will pursue Dairy Science at Delaware Valley University, where she hopes to gain knowledge in genetics to help small farmers.

Julie Pirro has been a member of Somerset County 4-H for 12 years.  Throughout that time Julie has been a member of the Sidewinders Herpetology Club, Master Chefs Club, Tailfeathers Poultry Club, Crazy Frog Hoppers Club, Prep Chefs and Craft Clubs. One of Julie’s biggest contributions to our 4-H program was the spearheading of the 4-H Fair App Committee that planned, wrote and developed the 4-H Fair app that launched last year.  Julie generously gives her time towards programs such as 4-H TOPS Camp, 4-H Prep Program and the leader of a North Jersey 4-H Teen Conference workshop. Julie will be attending New York University in the fall and majoring in Music Engineering.

Anthony Siniscalco has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past nine years. During those nine years he has been a member of the Trainmasters Club and World Wide Writers Ink Club. Throughout all his clubs, Anthony has actively taken on leadership and mentoring roles, such as president and treasurer. He takes pride in mentoring the younger members and participates in several work sessions throughout the year to assist the leaders and helping new members build the model trains.  Anthony conceived, created, designed and maintains websites for both clubs. As a community service, he designed, built and installed a permanent model train display for Mediatech at the Flemington Public Library. Anthony will be attending Raritan Valley Community College in the fall.

Bridget Sona has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past 12 years. Bridget is a member of the Chaps N’ Spurs Club. Within her club, she actively helps and supports the prep members (grades K-3) to continue to thrive in the program. Whether it’s teaching members about horses or simply encouraging others to get involved in new events, she tries to mentor anyone that comes into contact with her. Bridget has been a TOPS Camp Counselors for the past two years and uses her great leadership skills to identify and rectify issues. This fall Bridget plans to attend Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland, where she will study biology and hopes to enter the medical field someday.

Ariel Staffin has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past 11 years.  Throughout that time she has been a member of the New Centre Dairy Club. Her leader cites her sharing nature, understanding for goal-setting and team-effort, and willingness to adjust her time to support club members' work. She has been able to instruct clearly and simply while fulfilling six club offices and several committee chairs, and serving as captain of many Dairy Quiz Bowl teams, state and national. She has attended Leadership Washington Focus and put her 4-H presentation skills to successes in several speech forums, including eight straight years as NJ State Holstein Public Speaking Champion. She promoted 4-H opportunities while serving as Somerset County and NJ State Dairy Princess. Ariel will be studying hospitality services and exploring a possible career in AgTourism at Cornell University.

Noah Rothenburger has been a member of the Somerset County 4-H program for the past 12 years. During those years, Noah has been a member of the Senior Council, Sidewinders Herpetology Club, Clover Explores Club and Mad Scientists Prep Club. Throughout his time in 4-H, Noah has held many leadership roles and executive positions including vice president and peer mentor. In these roles he assisted the president in all aspects of their job and mentored younger 4-H members in how to be better animal handlers. He participates in as many activities including North Jersey Teen Conference and Citizenship Washington Focus where he not only participates, but leads activities and encourages others to participate with enthusiasm. One of Noah's greatest contributions to the 4-H program is his participation as a teen mentor in the "Clover Explorers" 4-H club where he mentors special needs 4-H members. Noah works hard to build an atmosphere of growth and understanding by building relationships with all 4-H members.  He also volunteers his time to many 4-H events, such as TOPS Camp, Teen Winter Camp, Family Camp, 4-H Fair and Science-sational Day. Noah will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall.

Madison Whiting has been a Somerset County 4-H member for the past 10 years.  Throughout that time she has been a member of the Little Woofers Club, Woof Club, Hoofbeats Club, Stablemates Club, and Horsin’ Around Club. She has also been active in the Horse Teen Council and Mounted Drill Team performing at the Somerset County 4-H Fair and the State 4-H Horse Show. Maddi’s greatest accomplishment in the Horse Project was winning the Eastern National 4-H Horse Round-Up Team Presentations contest in 2016. A mentor to younger members of her horse clubs, Madison has given riding and showmanship lessons. Her various community service activities included raising $500 for a cancer patient by helping to coordinate a benefit horse show.  Madison ’s other passion has been High School Theatre. She plans to incorporate this passion with the scientific knowledge she gained in 4-H to major in Theater and Cognitive Neuroscience.

The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension. 4-H educational programs are offered to all youth, grades K-13, on an   age-appropriate basis, without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law. For additional information, contact: or

2018 ED-GRS Honorees Announced             (Posted: 5-16-18)

Green Strides Design

          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides


Award Honors Schools, Districts, and Postsecondary Institutions for Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs, Improving Health and Wellness, Offering Effective Sustainability Education

May 16, 2018

The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Across the country, 46 schools, six districts, and six postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. A state education official was also honored for her efforts to advance school sustainability in the state of Florida.

“I commend each school, district, and institution of higher education for their efforts to create a healthy, safe, and cost-efficient learning environment for students, faculty and staff,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.  “These schools have done innovative work to help prepare students for the challenges of the 21st Century while also teaching them how to be good stewards of the environment.” 

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 58 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.

New Jersey 

  • Highland Regional High School, Blackwood, NJ
  • North Brunswick Township High School, Brunswick, NJ

32 Innovative Sustainability Grants Awarded             (Posted: 5-15-18)

Click HERE.

2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo Wrap-up             (Posted: 5-15-18)

Click HERE.