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.

Meaningful Gifts Just Got Easier!


Great news!

Giving the meaningful gift of conservation just got easier with The Wetlands Institute’s new gift cards!

Now you don’t have to decide whether to give a terrapin or horseshoe crab adoption, birding optics, handcrafted art,  jewelry, a warm fleece or sweatshirt, an annual membership, tickets to a special event, registration to a Summer Nature Program…  You can leave it up to them to pick and choose how they want to enjoy their gift with a gift card for The Wetlands Institute!

Cards can be purchased at The Wetlands Institute or by phone at 609-368-1211.

Wetland Institute Volunteers Receive Disney Conservation Hero Award

Stone Harbor, NJ, November 6, 2014 – The Wetlands Institute is thrilled to announce that Joe Grottola, and Steve and Susan Ahern – part of the Storm Drain Terrapin Rescue Team – have been honored with a Disney Conservation Heroes Award from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The award recognizes local citizens for their tireless efforts to save wildlife, protect habitats, and educate communities. There were 19 Conservation Heroes selected from around the globe this year. Recipients were nominated by non-profit environmental organizations, and each honoree and their nominating organization will share a $1,500 award from DWCF.

“I’ve always found great satisfaction working with Diamondback Terrapins as they are such an interesting species,” stated Joe Grottola. “After 25 years I still get excited every time we pull a terrapin hatchling from a storm drain.  Being named a Disney Conservation Hero Award recipient is an honor that can only help to increase awareness of the challenges facing the Diamondback Terrapin. Many local people, even those who’ve lived here for years, don’t realize we have these very unique terrapins living in the saltmarsh.”

In 1990, Joe Grottola, first noticed the issue of diamondback terrapin hatchlings becoming trapped in storm drains and developed a method to retrieve these hatchlings. Joe then involved students and educators from Lower Cape May Regional High School in the rescue, care and release of these threatened creatures. In 2010, Steve and Susan Ahern were trained to join him in this work, expanding the project to other New Jersey barrier islands. These three individuals, along with several others, took action to reduce the potential impacts, working on a volunteer basis to rescue terrapins, raise money for terrapin conservation, and engage other volunteers at The Wetlands Institute and students from local schools each year to rescue terrapin hatchlings from storm drains throughout southern New Jersey.

“Little did we know that rescuing these hatchlings would be such a rewarding experience,” commented Susan and Steve Ahern, who have engaged elementary school students from Sea Isle to help with various projects. “In addition to giving them a second chance, it has given us the opportunity to interact and share information with so many residents living near the salt marsh in Sea Isle City, who do important things every day to protect terrapins in our community. Our efforts have been supported not only by The Wetlands Institute but by our local Environmental Commission, who has partnered with us in several other terrapin protection activities. We are very proud to be part of The Wetlands Institute’s Terrapin Conservation Programs and honored to be recognized by Disney as Conservation Heroes.”

Their efforts have been inspiring, and have attracted numerous volunteers to get involved in this community-based conservation project organized by The Wetlands Institute. To date, the project has rescued over 5,000 terrapins from storm drains and released them back into the marsh.

In addition to their efforts to rescue terrapins trapped in storm drains, the team has contributed extensively to terrapin conservation efforts in their communities and to the continued success of the terrapin conservation program at The Wetlands Institute.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund focuses on protecting wildlife and connecting kids and families with nature. Since 2004, Disney has honored more than 100 leaders around the world for their extraordinary conservation efforts.

For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2014 Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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About The Wetlands Institute:

The Wetlands Institute is a non-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 and well-being. Visit our website at wetlandsinstitute.org to find out more about our programs and mission.

Thank you Volunteers!

VolunteersThe dedication our volunteers show to helping further our mission is an inspiration to all of us. Their generous contributions of time and talents are instrumental to our success. We recently held a celebration to thank these individuals but we wanted to further acknowledge them by sharing some of their accomplishments.
This year alone, 51 Junior Volunteers gave a total of 1473 hours; 59 Adult Volunteers providing us with 1830 hours of service; and 37 One Day Volunteers assisted us for 133 hours. Together, these devoted individuals were responsible for an aggregate 3436 donated hours.

Several of our volunteers helped at the front desk or with special events. Others gave their time teaching or assisting in the Aquarium and with Summer Nature Programs. Some also helped with terrapin projects such as spotting nesting females, installing nest exclosures to protect eggs from predation, and monitoring the nests for hatchlings.

Our top junior volunteer for the year was Taylor Tedesco who gave 132 hours of service. Taylor’s contributions expanded from planting marsh grass to tagging terrapins and horseshoe crabs. She joined in on reTURN the Favor walks and helped to conduct horseshoe crab surveys. Her dedication to recapturing terrapins for our monitoring projects lead her to focus on diamondback terrapin habitat and conservation in her coursework this semester.

Our top adult volunteer for 2014 was Dianna McFadden with 238 hours donated. Dianna volunteers a significant amount of her time helping at the front desk and in our Tidepool Shop. She also helps with special events and this year, she lent her amazing ear for birds to the Marshketeers by joining them for the World Series of Birding.

The contributions of our volunteers are extremely valuable. The Wetlands Institute Staff and Board of Trustees are deeply grateful to these generous individuals for their selfless commitment.

Thank you for all that you do!

Better Windows for Birds

By Dr. Lisa Ferguson, Director of Research and Conservation


Each year in the United States, an astonishing 100 million – 1 billion birds are estimated to die after colliding with homes, public buildings, and highrise buildings. Of particular risk to birds are windows and glass panes, which are near invisible to the birds as they flit about searching for food, cruise to evade predators, or become attracted to brightly lit windows. Their surroundings are reflected in the expanses of glass, creating a seamless yet risky scene for navigation. The issue of window strikes for birds has been an active field of study, with The Wetlands Institute’s board member Dr. Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College leading the way, and there are many simple recommendations for making your home or office less of a danger zone for our feathered friends. New advances in window design are on the market, and several low-cost solutions are available for upgrading your existing windows for birds.

Over the summer, The Wetlands Institute applied horizontal stripes to our lower level office windows where bird strikes were known to occur. These stripes, pieces of bird tape from American Bird Conservancy spaced two inches apart, make the windows visible to quick-moving birds. Since taking this measure, our staff has not reported a single bird strike – and the view from our building is even more enjoyable with this safeguard in place. We will continue to evaluate our needs and options for retrofitting other windows across our building to make our grounds a safer place for birds.

For more information on the issue and steps to reduce the risk of bird collisions at your home or office, check out the American Bird Conservancy (abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/collisions/glass) and Fatal Light Awareness Program (flap.org).

Marsh Musings – Winter 2014-15

By Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

As I write this column, The Institute has just shifted to our winter hours. It’s a bitter sweet time for us. The Institute is quiet most of the week and we all miss the energy, excitement and discovery of our visitors.

It’s an important time for the Institute as staff shift their attention and focus to strategic endeavors related to planning and implementing new programs, increasing operational efficiencies, and updating and maintaining the physical plant and our programs.

Letter-front-sidebar1This winter we are busy repairing and updating the Tower, implementing new operations to support research programs, creating new terrapin-based activities for teachers, designing new signage for the walkway, and creating some new exhibits in the aquarium. We remain very busy and it’s refreshing to change our focus seasonally.

It’s also a time for reflection. We have had an amazing year and have accomplished so much. We have all of you, our members and supporters to thank. The walkway has provided unparalleled access to the marsh we all love without overly impacting it. Your support and donations have made the walkway a reality and enriched all that we do.

We are so thankful to the people that have contributed to our Capacity Building Initiative and supported the growth in staff and the enhancement of our facilities to support the diversification of programs. Special thanks to Ray and Ellen Burke, The Davenport Family Foundation, Dr. Connie Dent, Bert DeVries, Anne Galli, Dr. Ann Gundry, Julian and Betsy Miraglia, Wayne and Kay Renneisen, Chip and Nancy Roach, Hank and Julia Schellenger, Jim and Barbara Summers, Spike and Mary Yoh, and Ken and Jennifer Zeigler.

Major gifts have made it all possible, but we still have a long way to go. Your contributions make a difference for the plants and animals of coastal and wetland ecosystems every day and fuel the achievement of our mission.

If you would like to learn more about the Capacity Building Initiative and how you can help, please contact me. We are making no small plans, and our progress is evident every day. Join us on the road to excellence.

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