Federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition is on!

2014-JDS-DisplayThe Wetlands Institute is proud to be the official State of New Jersey site for Junior Duck Stamp entries and judging.  Nearly 175 young artists from all over New Jersey entered their artwork in the 2014 competition which will be judged on Monday March 31, at The Wetlands Institute. All of the entries are beautiful interpretations of waterfowl submitted by students from grades K through 12.

Judging will be done by local artist, birder, and carver Anthony Hillman; local artist Janet McShain; local philatelist Gary Rudy; US F&W biologist Elizabeth Ciuzio Freiday; and retired teacher and president of the Friends Group of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge John King.

A Junior Duck Stamp design is a “term paper” in which students use visual rather than verbal articulation to show what they have learned. Participants select a species of North American waterfowl, do research on this species and its habitat, then depict the waterfowl in an artistic medium.

K-12 students attending public, private, or home schools in the United States are eligible to enter; so long as they are U.S. citizens, resident aliens, or nationals. First Place National Winner receives a $5,000 cash award and a free trip to participate in the First day of Sale ceremony in Late June or Early July.

Entries are judged in 4 grade groups (K-3rd, 4th-6th, 7th-9th, and 10th -12th), with three first place, three second place, three third place, and sixteen honorable mention ribbons awarded. The state Best of Show is selected from the 12 first place winning designs and competes in the national competition in Washington, DC. All National and State winning designs are on display during the year and are returned to the students the following spring.

The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is an integrated art and science curriculum developed to teach environmental science and habitat conservation. Be sure to check the US Fish & Wildlife Service Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program web site each year, to get up to date artwork requirements, permitted species, and National awards information. Each year a downloadable entry form is available here, as well as the newly required Reference Form.

Some of the winning artwork will be displayed on The Wetlands Institute’s website at wetlandsinstitute.org. There you will also find information on how to enter the competition.

New Elevated Walkway Construction Underway

Original walkway, post-Sandy


Hurricane Sandy was devastating, but it also presented The Wetlands Institute with amazing opportunities to rebuild and improve. Our new dock was reopened in September and it is truly built better than before. The next phase of improvements – a new 720 foot long elevated marsh walkway with new research and education stations is under construction.


Original Walkway – photo taken after completion in 1987

The original walkway, built in 1987, was a linear structure that offered access to a small area of the marsh for research and education programs.  Hurricane Sandy washed away a section of the walkway, leaving nearly half the structure unusable. But nature’s timing was appropriate and further fed the momentum of Executive Director Dr. Lenore Tedesco’s Plan for the Future.

And what began as an ambitious vision is now quickly taking shape. Demolition and removal of the old walkway was done with the utmost concern for minimal disturbance of the wetlands and so is construction of the new structure which is quickly progressing. “It is imperative that we finish the rebuilding effort before the Osprey return” stated Dr. Tedesco.

The new walkway will be elevated above the marsh and access the east side of the marsh from our Salt Marsh Trail.  It will feature a grated surface to allow light to reach the marsh surface and a healthy marsh to prosper. It is in a much better location and will provide excellent views of the osprey platform, the salt pannes and flats with all of the wading and shorebirds, and a complex of tidal creeks.  There will be two areas with stairs to allow access to the marsh for research and education.

Installation of pilings for new elevated walkway

Installation of pilings for new elevated walkway

The walkway will also provide access to a high-precision marsh elevation research station.  The station will allow Institute staff to document how the marsh is responding to changing water levels as storms and sea level rise continue to stress the ecosystem. “Not only will the new walkway offer unparalleled access to the salt marsh for our visitors to enjoy but it will greatly enhance our research and education capabilities” commented Dr. Tedesco. The Wetlands Institute received a FEMA grant to cover less than a third of the rebuilding cost. The next phase of our Capacity Building Initiative will seek donations with naming rights to offset the balance of the cost. If you would like to find out more about these naming opportunities, please contact Dr. Lenore Tedesco.


Walkway Work has Begun!

The next phase of Hurricane Sandy recovery is officially underway! The old marsh walkway which was built in 1987, has been removed and work on the new structure is soon to begin.  The newly designed elevated walkway, in a much better location, with new research and education stations. It will give visitors unparalleled access to the marsh so they can get up close and personal with the coastal ecosystem.

It is imperative that we finish the rebuilding effort before the Osprey return in March – or we forfeit our FEMA grant that will cover a portion of the rebuilding costs.  This is a remarkable opportunity to enhance our public education programs, while expanding our wetland research capabilities.

Wildlife Interpretation Workshop


Friends of Cape May NWR volunteer walk leader Joe Smith

Join Friends of Cape May NWR for a free Wildlife Interpretation Workshop on Jan. 9, 7-9 pm, at The Wetlands Institute in StoneHarbor.  This workshop is designed for anyone who is involved in helping others learn more about nature: volunteer walk leaders, environmental educators, nature program developers, science teachers, home school families, docents, and the general public. This workshop will last two hours, with a short break in the middle.

Learn the meaning of “interpretation,” and see how it can become a powerful communication tool.  Discover why interpretation is so important, and learn about some of the latest trends and best practices in the field of interpretation. Discover the different kinds of interpretation, including emotional, behavioral and educational. Presenters will additionally discuss the developing draft of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Management Plan, and will explain how it can benefit leaders at the Refuge and other environmental organizations in Cape MayCounty.

The workshop will be led by John Veverka. John is a Certified Interpretive Planner and Certified Interpretive Instructor with 35 years of experience at domestic and international sites.  He has developed interpretative programs for two World Heritage sites in Canada, several U.S. national parks and a few well-known sites, including Stonehenge and the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.  He is the author of three college textbooks on interpretation.

John will be assisted by Lynn Knight, a Certified Economic Developer with more than 25 years of experience in tourism.  Lynn is the project manager for the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Management Plan, and is looking forward to building awareness and soliciting public feedback into the plan.

Meet at The Wetlands Institute, 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone HarborNJ08247 at 7 pm. This program is free, but we request that you call or email any one of the following if you plan to attend:

Lynn Knight, Lknight@mainet.com
John King, Friends of Cape May NWR, jhking47@verizon.net
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, 609-513-9349
Katie Sellers, The Wetlands Institute, ksellers@wetlandsinstitute.org

Toys for Tots

The Wetlands Institute is collecting new, unwrapped toys as part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.  Your donations will be delivered to less fortunate youngsters in Cape May County.

More information

Give the Gift of Conservation

When you Keep the Cheer Here, we all win!


Feature-Keep-cheer-hereFirst, you support our mission.  Then, you support our community.  But that’s not it!  You can also enter for a chance to win $500 in gift cards (see details).

Dollars spent at local businesses have three times the impact on our community and simultaneously creates jobs, funds more services, invests, improves and promotes Cape May County as a whole.  Local merchants return 68% of their revenue back to the community.

And to top off the list of great benefits; by making a purchase you are qualified to enter for a chance to win $500 in gift cards as part of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce Shop Local contest!


Here are some of the ways you can support us while crossing names off your gift shopping list:


Annual Fund Appeal

Dear Friends,

This year many shore communities were rebounding from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Our beaches and wetland ecosystems were no different. And The Wetlands Institute rebuilt and rebounded as well – and we continue to rebuild to be better than before.  There is so much more to do.

At this defining moment, as The Wetlands Institute continues to transform into a center of excellence, we turn to our members and friends – to you – to provide a measure of support that will solidify our foundation and propel us forward to the next levels of our development.

2013 was a transformational year at The Wetlands Institute.  We undertook a major staff restructuring effort and added several very talented people to our ranks. We renovated the dormitories to better accommodate new staffing needs and better serve our summer research and education interns.

In mid-September, after Herculean efforts to expedite permitting and construction, we opened a brand new dock that replaces the dock that Hurricane Sandy completely destroyed, and it truly is built better than before.  Gifts from you – our supporters made this possible! We have a new dock work station that allows us to expand our research efforts.  We are planning a water quality monitoring station that will help us build baseline data sets to better understand the bays and estuary. Our research boats are in the water again.  A new Disney Conservation grant will allow us to buy sonar equipment to significantly upgrade our capabilities in terrapin and fisheries conservation. Our education team now has the ability to significantly enhance program offerings to the public and to school groups.

Along with our project partners, we beat the clock and successfully restored Sandy decimated beaches ahead of the horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird migratory stopover. Dedicated philanthropic gifts are fueling the beginnings of our avian conservation work and our research team has been out working with the Delaware Bay Shorebird team to trap and band juvenile shorebirds on their way south for the first time.  These birds were given a chance because of the remarkable beach restoration project that we were thrilled to help spearhead and that we continue to work on.

We launched a Return the Favor horseshoe crab rescue program and our staff and volunteers rescued nearly 2,000 crabs.  Our Marine Debris program has installed 15 monofilament recycling stations around Cape May County to help reduce wildlife impacts from lost fishing line.

We continue work to reduce terrapin mortality on our roadways and in our waterways.  Along with a record number of volunteers, we were able to replace nearly 3 miles of terrapin barrier fencing displaced by Sandy.  Our summer interns, staff and volunteers saved 142 terrapins crossing busy roadways and recovered 760 eggs from roadkilled terrapins.  Three hundred and seventeen orphaned eggs hatched and are being raised for Adopt-A-Terrapin and other releases next year!  This summer, we held 18 public education and school programs to release more than 200 of the babies we reared over the winter.

Our next big efforts are underway.  The newly designed elevated boardwalk, in a much better location, with new research and education stations, is in final design stages and work is set to begin.  It is imperative that we finish the rebuilding effort before the Osprey return in March – or we forfeit our FEMA grant that will cover a portion of the rebuilding costs.  This is a remarkable opportunity to enhance our public education programs, while expanding our wetland research capabilities.

I wish you could be here to see the excitement of our staff as they come up with new ideas to educate and inspire all who visit, and to see the faces of teachers and students as they experience the joys of learning first-hand about the salt marsh and beaches. I am proud of all we have accomplished and look forward to continuing on our amazing journey.  At The Wetlands Institute, we are only as strong as our members and supporters. That’s why I’m asking you to support our 2013 Annual Fund Drive to help us to continue the transformation of our programs and facilities.  100% of your gift will fund program enhancements and facilities upgrades and will be put to work immediately.

When you are part of the annual fund donor community, The Wetlands Institute’s many accomplishments and contributions are your accomplishments and contributions.  Please give this year. It really does matter.

Thanks for helping us to continue our critical conservation work.



Lenore P. Tedesco, PhD

Executive Director


P.S. Please visit our donation page to to help with a secure online gift.



Stranding Volunteer Workshop








Registration Required


Sarah Miele, Education Coordinator

(609) 266-0538

or email- edummsc@aol.com.


Volunteer Opportunity

Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Invasive Species Work Day

SHBS-featureMaintaining native vegetation is a critical component of natural areas maintenance. Help us restore the sanctuary.

We are coordinating a volunteer work day at the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary on Saturday November 2 from 9am to 12pm.

We re looking for 10-15 volunteers for work removing vines and underbrush in the bird sanctuary. Volunteers should wear closed toed shoes and long sleeves and be prepared for cold weather. Water will be provided.

Must be able to do manual labor that is somewhat intensive.  All tools will be provided.  Meet at the bird sanctuary 2nd ave entrance.

RSVP at 609-368-1211 or email office@wetlandsinstitute.org

The Wetlands Institute Receives Disney Conservation Grant



The Wetlands Institute has been awarded a $24,450 grant  from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The conservation grant recognizes The Wetlands Institute’s efforts to promote appreciation and understanding of the value of wetlands and coastal ecosystems through its programs in research, education, and conservation.

The Wetlands Institute is honored to receive a conservation grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for the third consecutive year. Disney’s support enables The Wetlands Institute to continue and strengthen the positive outcomes of our conservation program for Diamondback Terrapins and their habitat in coastal New Jersey.

This award from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will contribute resources for projects at The Wetlands Institute aimed at diminishing the impact of human related threats such as vehicle strikes, abandoned crab traps, and storm drains to Diamondback Terrapins. Additionally, several innovative programs that educate schoolchildren, college students, and the public on conservation topics related to our terrapin conservation project will be supported by the Disney grant.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund works to protect species and habitats, and connect kids to nature to help develop lifelong conservation values. Since its founding in 1995, DWCF has supported more than 1,000 conservation programs in 112 countries.

For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature visit www.disney.com/conservation.


About the Wetlands Institute

The Wetlands Institute is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) educational and research facility focused on salt marsh and coastal ecosystem preservation.  Annually, the Institute educates over 20,000 visitors, of which 6,000 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, education and conservation.  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.

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