From Russia – With Curiosity and Collaboration

2015-04_975The Wetlands Institute (TWI), Wetland Link International (based in the UK) and Wetlands International Russia (based in Moscow) teamed up to generate a beneficial international dialogue between wetland centers in the US and Russia. This project, Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program: Linking People and Wetlands is funded by a grant from the US State Department and will share best practices in environmental education and support the development of effective outreach and education activities among centers in both countries.

Program need stems from a desire to directly link peers to foster great cultural understanding, while exploring the different historical context and approaches to environmental education utilized in each country. The US has a long history of making natural areas accessible to people and embedding environmental education and outreach in to visitor programs. US wetland education centers are widespread and utilize a variety of innovative approaches to teaching in and about wetlands. In Russia, for most of their recent history, natural areas have been strictly protected and largely off limits to the public. In recent years, this has changed and new wetland education visitor centers are being opened and new programming is being developed encouraging outdoor and environmental education. The exchange program is designed to have paired centers work together and learn from each other.

The Wetlands Institute is partnering with the Smolensk Lakeland National Park, located in Russia, near the Belarus border about 7 hours west of Moscow. In April, Wetlands Institute Executive Director, Lenore Tedesco, and Director of Education, Brooke Knapick spent 10 days in Russia visiting project partners from Smolensk Lakeland National Park. The park has a newly opened visitor center and shares some interesting similarities with TWI. The park is located in an area with numerous beautiful lakes and has a visitorship that is heavily seasonal. The park is vast and has a strong focus on interpretive signage and self-guided educational programs. Their mission also includes preservation and education about cultural resources in addition to natural resources. While in Russia, Wetlands Institute staff visited many areas of the park, visited the local middle school, participated in a regional overnight environmental education and service project, and worked with park naturalists, foresters, and research scientists to get a greater understanding of the educational initiatives being offered by the Park. Full immersion into the Park’s programs allowed us to explore commonalities between the two centers and share ideas for new programs and initiatives, exhibits and signage and community involvement. Extending our education programs to an international level such as this is an important next step in the Institute’s development.

2015-04_397This exchange visit was the first in a series of wetland center exchange visits planned for this project. The six wetland centers participating in the program are divided equally between the US and Russia and include a diverse array of centers from different geographic regions and with different areas of expertise and educational focus. Together we are exploring approaches for using social media in environmental education, sharing data and program materials, and will produce a bilingual manual for wetland centers in both countries. The Khakassky State Nature Reserve, located in the Steppe zone of Khakassia, is working with the Driftless Area Wetlands Center in Marquette, Iowa. The Baltic Fund for Nature, located in St. Petersburg is an NGO focused on environmental education in the Baltic Sea basin. The Baltic Fund for Nature is paired with John Bunker Sands Wetland Center located in Seagoville, Texas. The first phase of the exchanges is now complete with each of the US teams visiting Russia. The Russian teams will visit their partners in the US in October. The teams will all come to The Wetlands Institute in mid-October for an international conference on wetland education. The conference will include an evening program that will be open to the public.

To learn more about the program, or follow the travels of the participating wetland centers, please visit You can also find us on Facebook.

Volunteers Needed to Plant Butterfly Gardens

Volunteers Needed to Help Plant Butterfly Gardens at Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary

SHBS-signFriday, May 22  from 9am – 12pm

Meet at the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Pump house on 3rd ave and 114th St.

Be prepared for sun and potentially bugs.  Please wear close toe shoes.  Equipment will be supplied, but if you have a favorite pair of garden gloves, please bring them.

Please RSVP your interest to

The Wetlands Institute and Burke Subaru teamed up to Share the Love

2015-05-03 Volunteers-repairing-fence-2Stone Harbor, NJ, Monday May 4, 2015 – The employees of Burke Subaru and their families were up early with their gloves on and sleeves rolled up to help protect the beloved Terrapin turtles at their Subaru Share the Love event on Sunday, May 3rd.  Ray Burke, President of Burke Motor Group and Chairman of the Board of The Wetlands Institute said, “We wanted to give back to this community we love so we enlisted the help of The Wetlands Institute knowing that they could lead a volunteer project that would have real impact.”

2015-05-03 Volunteers-repairing-fenceThe Wetlands Institute has been working to protect and conserve diamondback terrapins for more than 20 years.  A key component is the installation and maintenance of barrier fencing throughout local salt marsh roads. From mid-May through July, female terrapins leave the marsh in search of higher ground to nest and lay eggs.  This puts them in harm’s way as they cross roadways. Burke Subaru and Subaru America donated more than $4,000 to The Wetlands Institute as part of the Subaru Share the Love program.  The program also included a volunteer event to help The Wetlands Institute repair barrier fencing to prepare for the upcoming nesting season. For several hours, volunteers worked hard repairing the barrier fencing along Stone Harbor Boulevard. Volunteers from both Burke Motor Group and the Rotary Club of Mid Jersey Cape repaired fencing and did a trash cleanup. A bike patrol and roadside assistance helped make the event run smoothly. “Barrier fencing has been shown to be highly effective at reducing mortality of adult terrapins.  Diamondback terrapins are a keystone species in the marsh that provide critical services to help protect and sustain a healthy marsh ecosystem.  Their populations are in decline throughout their range, and this work is critical to helping reduce their mortality”, says Executive 2015-05-03 volunteers-picking-up-trashDirector Lenore Tedesco, Ph.D. “Last year we had more than 500 nesting terrapins killed along local roadways, so it’s critical that everyone do their part and slow down and be aware.” The Wetlands Institute conducts road patrols to rescue terrapins on roadways, help injured terrapins, and for those that are killed, eggs are retrieved, incubated and hatched.  Hatchlings are fostered for their first year of life and then released back into the marsh to try to help offset the losses on roadways.  After such a harsh winter, the fencing was in need of repair and the Burke Subaru volunteers got the job done and even cleaned up the litter along the way.

2015-05-03 Burke-Subaru-Share-the-Love-check-1The Burke Family has owned and operated in Cape May County since Raymond Burke, Sr. opened the original Wildwood location in 1912.  Spanning four generations, the Burke Dealerships have grown and expanded to meet the changing automotive needs of the Jersey Cape area. For more than 100 years, the four generations of Burkes have shown their commitment to the community. “Creating and participating in community projects is a Burke family tradition. We all felt great about actually doing something to preserve and protect these beautiful native creatures”, says Burke.  Event coordination was by Francey Burke.

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About The Wetlands Institute:

The Wetlands Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting appreciation, understanding and stewardship of wetlands and coastal ecosystems through our programs in research, conservation and education. We inspire visitors of all ages to appreciate and steward wetlands and coastal ecosystems by teaching them the importance of those systems and how they relate to their own lives. Visit our website at to find out more about our programs and mission.

Bill to Reclassify Terrapins as Non Game Species



Dear Terrapin Conservation Supporters,

On May 4, New Jersey’s Senate Environment and Energy Committee will meet to consider whether Bill S-2615 which provides diamondback terrapins protection as non game indigenous species, should move forward to a full Senate vote. The Wetlands Institute is supportive of the bill and would like to provide information related to the hearing and contact information for Committee members if you would like to add your voice in support of additional protections for diamondback terrapins and to end their harvest. 

Environment and Energy Committee

For those who would like to submit comments directly to the committee please find details below.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will meet on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 10, 3rd Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey.

The public may address comments and questions to Judith L. Horowitz or Michael R. Molimock, Committee Aides, or make bill status and scheduling inquiries to Pamela Petrone, Secretary, at (609)847-3855, fax (609)292-0561, or e-mail:  Written and electronic comments, questions and testimony submitted to the committee by the public, as well as recordings and transcripts, if any, of oral testimony, are government records and will be available to the public upon request.

Wetlands Institute Celebrates 3rd Annual Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival

Stone Harbor, NJ – The Wetlands Institute is pleased to announce our 3rd annual Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival.

SSHCFest2Located on the Cape May Peninsula between the Delaware Bay and Atlantic beaches, The Wetlands Institute is situated in an area considered to host one of the “wonders of the world.” With an act of timing only Mother Nature can provide, horseshoe crabs climb onto the beaches of the Delaware Bay to lay their eggs, while thousands of shorebirds time a pit stop during their spring migration to feed on these energy-packed horseshoe crab eggs. With so much life and a myriad of exceptional species on our beaches, it is impossible not to appreciate this phenomenon!

Come join The Wetlands Institute for a festival that celebrates an amazing spectacle of nature – the shorebird migration and horseshoe crab spawning season. Guests of all ages can enjoy shorebird banding demonstrations and volunteer participation, back-bay kayaking tours, back-bay birding and wildlife boat tours, reTURN the Favor horseshoe crab rescue walks, a horseshoe crab spawning survey, horseshoe crab teaching tank and aquaculture tours, horseshoe crab themed children’s activities, guided shorebird viewing walks, and more! For a full schedule of activities and pre-registration information, visit

Proceeds from the event will help support the Delaware Bay International Shorebird Project and The Wetlands Institute’s conservation and education programs focused on shorebird and horseshoe crab conservation.

2013-05-Horseshoe-Crabs-webThe Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival is sponsored by Lucky Bones Backwater Grille. It is held in collaboration with: Borough of Stone Harbor; Celebrate Delaware Bay; Cape May Bird Observatory; Township of Middle; and US Fish and Wildlife Service – Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

Two-Day Ticket: Non-Member:  $15 Adult, $10 Child.  Member:  $13 Adult, $8 Child.

One-Day Ticket: Non-Member:  $10 Adult, $8 Child, $30 Family Pack of 4. Member:  $8 Adult, $6 Child, $25 Family Pack of 4.


About The Wetlands Institute:

The Wetlands Institute is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) educational and research facility focused on wetlands and coastal ecosystem preservation.  Annually, the Institute educates over 17,000 visitors, of which 11,000 are school aged children. The Wetlands Institute’s mission is to promote appreciation, understanding and stewardship of wetlands and coastal ecosystems through programs in research, conservation, and education.  The Institute was founded in 1969 by the late Herbert H. Mills, (former Chairman of the Board of the World Wildlife Fund, and Executive Director of the National Audubon Society), to further coastal environmental knowledge. From its inception, the Wetlands Institute has pioneered a number of research, education and conservation programs about wetlands and coastal ecosystems, and worked with numerous regional, national and international organizations to foster stewardship of these resources worldwide.



2015 Special Events Calendar Announced

events-2015We are pleased to announce the 2015 Festival and Special Events Calendar for The Wetlands Institute. 2015 will be filled with many great opportunities to play, learn, volunteer, participate and enjoy the coastal and wetland ecosystems of southern New Jersey. This year’s festival line up continues to showcase the remarkable natural phenomena of migration with both the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival and Fall Migration Festival. Both provide a full weekend line-up of activities spread across several locations in the area. We will again offer program components that allow for active participation in horseshoe crab, monarch butterfly, or shorebird tagging and banding. Guided beach and marsh walks are sure to excite everyone from beginners to those looking to brush up on their bird identification skills or learn about conservation programs in the area. Naturalist led kayak and boat tours will provide access to the more difficult to spot birds, and a close-up encounter with the marsh and back bay ecosystem.

Our three 1-day events are themed, event days packed with games, contests, educational programs, and a host of great activities for families. TurtleFest is again on the Saturday of Easter Weekend, with a pancake breakfast, turtle egg hunt, crafts and fun. Crabulous Crab Day spotlights the delicious, interesting and even little known crab species that make the salt marsh their home. Wetland Wonderland returns again on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and celebrates the wonders of winter and the adaptations of animals to this difficult time.

The most exciting change to the event schedule relates to the Wings ‘N Water Benefit Auction. After 32 years of holding the benefit auction under the tent at the Institute, the host committee is reimagining the auction and its venue. All things must change as the only constant is change. The host committee, comprised of board members and community leaders, is pleased to announce that the benefit auction will be restructured under a new name and at a new venue. The Inaugural Wetlands Institute Summer Celebration will be an exciting, cocktail party and benefit auction to support the mission and programs of the Institute. The celebration will be held at the Reeds of Shelter Haven on Saturday night, August 1, 2015. The evening’s festivities will include great food and drinks, entertainment, the spectacular scenery and view to the Institute, and a live auction. Our emphasis will be on raising funds in direct support of mission-based programs. The new venue provides the perfect ambiance for the renewed focus. The Summer Celebration is the Institute’s premier fund-raising event and a critical event to support the continued growth and development of the Institute into a world-class research, conservation, and education facility. Newly structured sponsorship opportunities are a perfect way to support the Institute, and distinctive VIP ticket packages are being formulated. We will be announcing news and highlights as the planning continues. Save the date – Saturday, August 1 – you don’t want to miss all the excitement.

View our calendar of events

Diving Deeper Into Science Education

09-30-14_SanfordSchool61_SEASThere is no better way to learn about the environment than to get out and explore it! However, exploring certain habitats, like our underwater worlds, can be quite tricky. That is why The Wetlands Institute offers Science Education at Sea (SEAS) programs for students in grades 4 through college. The SEAS program is a unique field trip experience, originally developed by former Outreach Coordinator, Travis Davis. The program allows students to learn about their local marine ecosystems while experiencing them firsthand. This three hour, boat-based program allows children to explore the ocean and bay habitats through activities such as crabbing, dolphin watching, fish and invertebrate sampling, and a live plankton lab. The SEAS program focuses on marine biology and combines hands-on, live marine animal interactions with traditional science concepts such as food webs and life cycles. While interaction with live animals is an important component in engaging students, we wanted to dive a little deeper and expand the scientific content of the SEAS program. Utilizing new methods and materials, our goal is to challenge students, allow them to formulate questions, and get them thinking about the bigger picture when it comes to the health and future of our oceans.

09-30-14_SanfordSchool92_SEASTo reach our goal, we began by enhancing our most popular activity on the boat, the trawl net tow. A trawl net is used by both research scientists and commercial fishermen to collect marine organisms on the bottom of the sea floor. Students are involved in deploying the net into the water and hauling it back on board. This part of the program is always a huge hit and the students are amazed that they actually get to see what’s living beneath the surface of the water! To expand this activity, in spring 2014 we introduced a biodiversity assessment component to the program. The biodiversity assessment mimics how actual marine biologists analyze the health of a marine habitat. Just like the scientists, students record weather and water conditions and then identify, count and record the specimens collected in the trawl net. While conducting the biodiversity assessments, we have seen students utilize skills such as species identification, math, and team work, while also still engaged in the activity and having fun. The biodiversity assessment will also provide The Wetlands Institute with some useful data and allow us to identify species population trends over time. In time, our goal is to have this biodiversity assessment data available for teachers to use as an educational tool in the classroom.

09-30-14_SanfordSchool_BiodiversityAssessment_SEASBut wait, we’re not done yet! After the success of the biodiversity assessments, this year we plan on incorporating a water quality component into the SEAS program. During this new activity, students will test and analyze the physical and chemical properties of both bay and ocean water. The water testing will complement the student’s biodiversity assessments, helping to explain why we see specific species inhabiting a certain marine environment. Differences in salinity, temperature, or dissolved oxygen are all big factors in determining how much (or little) biodiversity is present. Water quality testing will also help open discussions on topics that affect students and their community, such as storm water, water treatment, watersheds, marine debris, just to name a few.

It is important to us that the SEAS program continues to be an impactful experience, one that students will remember for years to come. With these enhancements to the program, we hope students will not only have a lasting impression, but will leave the trip feeling empowered to become environmental stewards in their community. Stay tuned as we continue to dive deeper into science education!

Stone Harbor Point Project to Improve Habitat for Coastal Birds and Increase Resiliency to Future Storms

Stone Harbor Point Project to Improve Habitat for Coastal Birds and
Increase Resiliency to Future Storms Completed and Beach Reopened

The beach restoration phase of a habitat and coastal resiliency project on Stone Harbor Point was successfully completed ahead of the arrival of piping plovers and the onset of nesting of beach nesting birds. The project teams worked tirelessly through incredibly harsh weather conditions that included severe flooding, high winds and several snowstorms.  In the end, more than 50,000 cubic yards of sand were transferred from the southern end of the point near Hereford Inlet to construct elevated habitat areas for beach-nesting and migratory birds.  Sand harvesting removed the upper 2 feet of sand from just above the high tide line and was used to construct three small platforms that are now above spring tide flooding elevations.  The areas are difficult to detect as they only rise a few feet above the surrounding beach elevation and wind and tides have already sculpted them into a natural-looking beach feature.  The project also enhanced an existing dune to provide protection to the community from southerly approaching storms.  The dune crosses the access road and has been constructed to continue to allow permitted vehicles access to Stone Harbor Point for emergency access, patrols and seasonal fishing. Access to Stone Harbor Point was reopened on March 12th.

The restoration is a collaborative project funded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant Program. New Jersey Audubon Society is working in partnership with Niles and Associates, LLC., The Wetlands Institute, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the Borough of Stone Harbor.

Project updates and additional information can be found at:

NJAS project site


The Wetlands Institute project website

Borough of Stone Harbor

Burke Subaru Shares the Love With The Wetlands Institute


For Subaru’s Share the Love Campaign, BurkeSubaru of Cape May County has chosen The Wetlands Institute as their local charity of choice. Burke Motor Group will donate $250 to The Wetlands for every new Subaru sold until January 2nd.

“In this, our seventh year, Subaru of America will have donated $50 million, one Subaru at a time”

To date, Subaru of America has helped support nearly 300 animal shelters, grant more than 600 wishes, fund over one million meal deliveries to seniors, and support over 70 national parks through the “Share the Love” event. This year, Subaru of America is partnering with more than 600 local charities nationwide, helping even more of the causes we all care about.

Stockton, the Wetlands Institute Will Collaborate on Educational Programs and Share Facilities

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, Professional Training, Student Teaching and Internships to be Developed

Source: Maryjane Briant
News and Media Relations Director
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey


Galloway Township, NJ – The Wetlands Institute of Stone Harbor, NJ and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey today agreed to collaborate on a wide variety of educational and research programs using the facilities of both institutions, in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed at a meeting of the Stockton Board of Trustees.

Stockton and The Wetlands Institute share a strong interest in coastal and environmental issues and each promotes public education in marine and environmental science and ecological stewardship.

The two institutions will work together to expand undergraduate and graduate degree programs and professional training courses, seminars, student teaching opportunities and internships.

“This collaboration is designed to meet the increasing regional, state and national needs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to strengthen the regional economy,” said Stockton President Herman Saatkamp. “STEM is critical to the United States’ efforts to preserve Earth’s environment and to compete in a global economy.

“Stockton and The Wetlands Institute will work together to expand the economic base of southern New Jersey through educating more future scientists, researchers and educators,” President Saatkamp said. Industry projections indicate there will be 269,000 jobs in New Jersey alone for science majors by 2019.

TWI-Stockton-webThe Wetlands Institute, located on 6,000 acres in Cape May County, includes a center and an aquarium, an elevated marsh walkway, two research boats and docks, and a dormitory to house eight students or visiting scientists.

The institute will provide sites where Stockton classes can meet and Stockton will open its facilities to Wetlands Institute programs, such as at the Carnegie Center in Atlantic City, the Nacote Creek Field Marine Science and Environmental Field Station in Port Republic, NJ and other locations.

Marine Science and Environmental Science are two of the flagship programs in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NAMS, which awards more than 22 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in science and math among New Jersey’s public colleges and universities. On campus, NAMS facilities include in the 66,350-square-foot Unified Science Center, which opened in September 2013. A 59,843-square-foot expansion, to be called Unified Science Center 2, will open in 2017.

“The Wetlands Institute has a long history of research, conservation, and education in coastal and wetland ecosystems and we are pleased to enter into this agreement with Stockton College to provide additional opportunities for collaboration among our staff and faculty, staff and students at the college,” said Dr. Lenore Tedesco, executive director of The Wetlands Institute. “This is a win for the State of New Jersey.”

The Wetlands Institute has more than 1,500 members, over 200 volunteers and receives over 20,000 visitors annually, including 6,000 school-aged children. Its Education Department focuses on hands-on experiences, including community events that reach 1,500 people annually, 350 children attending summer nature programs, and more than 1,800 students in boat-based marine education programs.

The Wetlands Institute has long been known for its research and conservation efforts with the diamondback terrapin, through its Education, Research and Conservation Departments. Stockton will continue to support such conservation, including incubating recovered eggs and rearing hatchlings, as well as caring for injured terrapins.

The Wetlands Institute is also expanding its work to include avian ecology, specifically coastal birds, along with fisheries science and conservation and wetlands ecology.

The two institutions will also explore jointly seeking grants from federal and state agencies as well as private foundations.

In other business, the board of trustees approved an all-inclusive tuition/fee rate of $650 per credit for online master’s degree programs and online graduate educational endorsements and graduate certificate programs, beginning in Spring 2015. Online programs reduce the overhead costs of physical facilities, so Stockton is reducing the cost to students in those fully online programs.

In-state graduate students would save over $92 per credit in tuition with the fully online master’s and other included programs; out-of-state students would save over $399 in tuition per credit on such programs. Students in these programs would save an additional $80 as the college is waiving its transportation fee.


Dr. Lisa Ferguson, left, director of research and conservation at The Wetlands Institute, Dr. Lenore Tedesco, executive director of The Wetlands Institute, Stockton President Herman Saatkamp and Anne Galli, right, secretary of institute’s Board of Trustees, participate in the signing of the agreement that will allow the two institutions to expand their collaboration on education and research programs.

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Click here for the original release.

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