Cape May County Herald
*Note:  Festival dates are July 12, 13, 14* 

STONE HARBOR — It’s a new day at the Wetlands Institute.

Expect an increased thrust getting the community engaged in events, more research projects, especially focusing on water, and more programs geared to young students in science and technology.

Dr. Lenore Tedesco, executive director, who recently marked 120 days on the job, having replaced the retired Cindy O’Connor, told members of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce Thur., Feb. 16 at Rio Station among changes would be a shift to July 13-14 for the 30th annual Wings ‘n’ Water Festival.

She also promised increased emphasis on the “water” part of the celebration.

Tedesco cited flagging festival attendance for the reason to “bring new life to the f festival to do something more exciting.”

The multi-venue event, held in September since inception, had a one-price ticket. That, too, will change, said Tedesco, who noted there would be a change in ticket packages to enter only certain events.

With the advent of more local vineyards and a local brewery, Tedesco said the festival would include them, too.

Transportation issues would be overcome by an increased number of trolleys operating between all points of the festival.

Also look for a Friday boat cruise and other events.

“Make no small plans,” Tedesco said.

Tedesco, who “grew up on the tidal marshes of Long Island,” spent 20 years at Indiana/Purdue University. Immediately prior to her arrival at the institute, she was professor, Department of Earth Sciences, and director, Center for Earth and Environmental Science.

Tedesco told the chamber she brought three water-related research projects to the institute. She also reassured the group that many of the educational programs and summer camps many have grown to enjoy will continue and expand.

She said there will be a new thrust to get children excited about science and technology, but there will also be programs to entice teenagers and college-aged young people as well as adults.
The institute will expand its solar panel array, done in conjunction with the Cape May County Technical School, and have exhibits that feature that solar arrangement.

In time, Tedesco hopes to also redesign the aquarium in the Diller wing. She also hopes to have the opportunity to create traveling exhibits.

She recognizes that funding is becoming increasing more difficult from organizations private and public, but hopes to be able to entice some, including federal funds.

To that end, corporate sponsorship will take on added importance.

The institute’s conservation work has become synonymous with diamondback terrapins and salvaging their eggs, if females are found crushed on roadways. To that work, Tedesco hopes to have volunteers erect ever more low barrier fencing for the terrapins, and increase diligence on storm drains, since many tiny terrapins can be washed into them, she said.

To that work will be added more scientific work with birds and diverse creatures, such as horseshoe crabs.

A lecture series, the first of which will be on July 18 with Dr. Ellen Prager, will deal with marine creates entitled, “Sex, Drugs and Sea Slime.”

Whatever it does in the scientific world, Tedesco wants the institute to relate that in laymen’s terms to the average person. So armed with knowledge, it is her hope that the public will be better informed and can make better decisions on those topics.