Lighthouse Camp for Natural Resource Education

Environmental Educators Roundtable

Join us for our 23rd Annual Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable on April 22, 2020

Terry O'Leary and McDuffy Barrow, of the Forest Resource Education Center, teach a group of educators about bees at the 2010 Environmental Educators Roundtable.

Terry O’Leary and McDuffy Barrow, of the Forest Resource Education Center, teach a group of educators about bees at the 2010 Environmental Educators Roundtable.

The Ocean County Soil Conservation District will host our 23rd Annual Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education, Waretown, NJ. Teachers and educators can register for this indoor/outdoor event that offers an array of workshops to choose from, various exhibiting environmental organizations, a delicious dinner, keynote speaker, door prizes and professional development certificates. Registration will open in January, 2020, so check back with us soon!

The Ocean County Soil Conservation District has been effectively and successfully coordinating the Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable since 1997. A primary task of the Steering Committee who represent nearly twenty area groups and agencies, is to assist local educators in the inclusion of Barnegat Bay watershed-specific information and materials into their lessons, activities and programs. The Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable provides a mechanism for environmental educators to share resources and information related to the watershed. The enthusiasm instilled in educators is carried back to their schools, nature centers, science institutions and colleagues, and helps to promote environmental education opportunities within the watershed. It is the perfect venue for professional development opportunities for both school teachers and informal educators. The program and itinerary for the Roundtable varies each year, with additional partners and customized programs adding to the appeal for educators to attend.

“Excellent workshops I will use in my own class and will share with other teachers in our school! Thank you!!”

The Roundtable has a proven success rate with Ocean County educators. The educational programs and opportunities available from all participating agencies, organizations and groups allows a comprehensive approach to watershed education and provides educators with a “one-stop-shopping” approach. It is well known that educators are more likely to present and teach topics with which they are familiar and comfortable. The main goal and objective of the annual Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable is to provide this opportunity and to ultimately improve and protect the health of the Barnegat Bay watershed.

2019: 22nd Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable

This much anticipated event was spearheaded by OCSCD in 1997 through a partnership of representatives from many local environmental groups and agencies. By working together, we can accomplish our collective goal to educate others about the ecological, cultural and historical aspects of the Barnegat Bay watershed.

Participants enjoyed networking with other educators and exhibitors representing over a dozen environmental organizations in the Barnegat Bay watershed. The Barnegat Bay Partnership, ReClam the Bay, NJDEP, Save Barnegat Bay, BTMUA, Project Terrapin, Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists, Master Composters of Ocean County, Ocean County Parks & Recreation, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Double Trouble State Park, NJ Sea Grant Consortium, and many more organizations shared information about the importance of a healthy bay and watershed.

An array of workshops, aligned with this year’s theme: “Changing Climate, Changing Watershed”, were offered by knowledgeable and dynamic presenters. Through interactive and engaging discussions and activities, participants learned about the effects of our changing climate on the vital and unique natural resources in the Barnegat Bay watershed.

Our Keynote speaker, Lisa Auermuller, Assistant Manager of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, shared the latest resiliency tools against anticipated storm events through her presentation, “The Resilience Puzzle”.

Read below to see the variety programs offered in 2019!

2 Hour Workshop (4:30-6:30)

A. Field Trip to Cedar Bonnet Island  Led by Dr. John Wnek and students from MATES AcademyJoin MATES “Project Terrapin” crew on a trip to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at Cedar Bonnet Island. MATES Center for Research and Applied Barnegat Bay Studies (CRABBS) is monitoring changes in soils and vegetative coverage on the island to determine the effects of climate change, sea level rise and other factors that may have a resulting impact on nesting Diamondback Terrapins. Methods used for collecting data are inexpensive and can be easily incorporated into your curriculum. Dr. Wnek and his students will provide a hands-on experience along with lessons that you can take back to your classroom. MATES students will share some of their research and preliminary theses.  **A pre-arranged van will transport you from the Lighthouse Center to Cedar Bonnet Island and back again. Seating is limited, register early. Please dress appropriately for outdoor learning.

1 Hour Workshops Offered During Session One (4:30-5:30)

1B. System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP): Real-time Monitoring Data at Your Fingertips  presented by Kaitlin Gannon, Education Coordinator, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The NERRS System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) collects environmental monitoring data such as water, weather and nutrients on coastal habitats. This data can be accessed by anyone, used by local decision makers, aquaculture farmers, and researchers. SWMP can also be a great educational tool to enhance data literacy. This presentation includes a SWMP introduction, how to access SWMP, and lessons that incorporate the data.

1C. Piping Plover, an Endangered Beach Nesting Bird in New Jersey: What Does its Future Hold in an Age of Climate Change?  presented by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.  The piping plover, a state endangered shorebird that nests on New Jersey’s beaches, is at-risk from a number of threats, including predators, human disturbance, habitat loss, and flooding. As climate change and sea level rise accelerate, what impacts will that have on this tiny shorebird that already faces a precarious existence living on an ever-changing beach habitat. Todd Pover, who has studied and protected piping plovers and other beach nesting birds for 25 years, will provide a glimpse into their fascinating behavior and biology, as well as what is being done to protect them. He will discuss how climate change may impact their recovery, a surprising complicated scenario linked to their unique habitat needs.

1D. Paddle for the Edge: Citizen Scientists Monitoring Our Changing Shorelines  presented by Martha Maxwell Doyle, Project Coordinator, and Emily Pirl, Field Technician, Barnegat Bay Partnership “Paddle for the Edge” is an annual citizen science data collection event. Volunteer paddlers are trained to use a smart phone app to collect data about the condition of Barnegat Bay shorelines. The data is useful to planners and resource managers in many ways – providing information about flooding and storm impacts, predicting how shorelines may react to sea-level rise, and identifying potential restoration areas. In this session, educators will learn about the types of data collected and how scientists and students can use it.

1 Hour Workshops Offered During Session Two (5:40-6:40)

2E. Connecting Students with Climate Change  presented by Mindy Voss and Rosemary Higgins of NJ Sea Grant Consortium.  Educators will learn strategic framing techniques to effectively communicate climate change, especially to children. In this session, educators will learn best practices on how to introduce climate change in a classroom setting, teach impacts with inquiry based hands-on activities, and create student driven solutions to encourage positive action while encouraging appreciation for the environment. The activities include lesson plans for each participant that satisfies Next Generation Science Standards.

2F. Biodiversity, Living Shorelines and Water Quality  presented by Chris West of ReClam the Bay.  The effects of climate change are evident in our watershed, including in the Barnegat Bay. Biodiversity and living shorelines can offer resilience, resistence and stability. Shellfish play an important role in these defenses, and also ensure high water quality. Through interactive, hands-on lessons we will demonstrate how to teach these concepts to your students and provide them with the tools and inspiration they need to become stewards of our changing watershed.

2G. The Water Cycle and Climate Change  presented by Dr. Steve Yergeau, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean CountyWatersheds undergo changes due to development, landscape management and increased impervious cover that all impact the water cycle. Less water infiltrates into the soil, more frequent floods happen and more polluted stormwater enters our rivers and lakes. Climate change will bring increased precipitation and stormwater, causing these problems to only get worse. Hands-on activities will be modeled for use with students to introduce them to watersheds, the water cycle and the impacts due to climate change. We will also discuss the possible solutions that people can do on a daily basis to mitigate effects of our changing climate.

For more information, please contact Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, or 609-971-7002 ext. 114.

2018: 21st Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable

The Ocean County Soil Conservation District held our 21st Annual Barnegat Bay Watershed Environmental Educators Roundtable on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education, Waretown, NJ.

The goal of the Roundtable is to provide educators with ideas and lesson plans that offer meaningful ways for instilling a sense of place in their students and build upon existing curricula by making it locally relevant.

This year’s workshops were centered around the theme: “Back to Our Roots”. Presenters shared lessons that reflected the importance of the cultural, historical and natural resources that make the Barnegat Bay watershed a unique and ecologically important place. Workshops included: “A Field Trip to Cloverdale Farms”, led by Patti Trasferini of Ocean County Parks & Recreation, “Aquatic Invasive Species” by Karen Byrne of Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center, “Native Carnivorous Plants” presented by Terry O’Leary, “Ospreys” presented by Ben Wurst of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey,  “The Effects of Climate Change on Barnegat Bay’s Natural Resources”, presented by Rosemary Higgins and Mindy Voss of NJ Sea Grant Consortium, “Enviroscape: Teaching about Pollution Prevention” presented by GraceAnne Taylor of Save Barnegat Bay, and “Building Ecological Solutions for Coastal Community Hazards” presented by Allison Mulch of NJ Audubon and Jim House of Egg Harbor Twp. High School.

Our Keynote Speaker, award-winning educator and local film producer, Angela Andersen, showcased her new documentary “The Oyster Farmers”. The film highlights the renaissance of the aquaculture industry in the Barnegat Bay watershed. From the raw bar to the reef, it is just a drop in the bucket for the community to lend a hand in restoring the bay.

2017: Celebrating our 20th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable

The Ocean County Soil Conservation District celebrated our 20th Annual Barnegat Bay Watershed Environmental Educators Roundtable on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education, Waretown, NJ. Doors opened at 3:00pm for networking, resource sharing and a delicious light dinner. Workshops began at 4:30pm. Our Keynote Speaker, Dr. John Wnek and his MATES students enlightened participants about the great they are doing to enhance Diamondback Terrapin habitat and remove derelict ghost crab traps from the Barnegat Bay, in an effort to reduce unnecessary terrapin fatalities.

Our 2017 workshops showcased lessons and activities from “Discovering Barnegat Bay!” – the OCSCD educator’s curriculum. All participating educators received a free curriculum guide containing 40 lessons based on soil, water, natural wonders, people and places, history and geography of the Barnegat Bay watershed.

2016: 19th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable

The 2016, 19th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable supported the theme “We All Need Trees”, a topic promoted by the NACD (National Association of Conservation Districts) for the 2016 nationwide Poster Contest. Workshops emphasized the importance of trees in the Barnegat Bay watershed and in our lives. Presenting organizations included the Forest Resource Education Center: “Tree ID Walk & Talk” and “Sounds From the Forest”, New Jersey State Forest Service: “Silviculture and Sustainable Forest Management”, NJ Sea Grant Consortium: “Weather, Climate, Trees and the Importance of Understanding Storm Surge”, New Jersey Pinelands Commission: “The NJ Pinelands – More Than Pine Trees”, Ocean County Parks & Recreation: “What Trees Lived Here Before My school Was Built?”, Kateri Environmental Center: “Tree Mysteries”, and Cedar Hollow Consulting, Naturally!: “EcoTour – Streaming the Rivers and Creeks of the Barnegat Bay Watershed”. Keynote Speaker, Karen Walzer of Barnegat Bay Partnership, introduced participants to Jersey-Friendly Yards, a new website designed for the home or school gardener, offering step-by-step support to create an environmentally friendly garden or landscape using native trees, shrubs and perennials.

2015: 18th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable


Participants get “Sedimental About Beaches” with NJ Sea Grant Consortium

The 18th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable celebrated the “International Year of Soils” by offering a variety of engaging workshops that allowed participants to dig a little deeper into the workings of soil. Keynote Speaker, Rob Tunstead of NRCS, shared his research that centers on mapping the soils on the bottom of the Barnegat Bay. Presenting organizations included Ocean County Parks & Recreation: “Guided Tour of the SHIP Gardens at Jakes Branch County Park” and “Shifting Sands”, Kateri Environmental Center: “What’s a Wetland?”, Cedar Hollow Consulting, Naturally!: “Touring the Pygmy Pine Forest”, NJ Sea Grant Consortium: “Sedimental About Beaches”, and NRCS: “Get to Know Your Soil”.

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2013: 16th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable

Heide Winzinger, an NJ born folk singer, performs at the Roundtable.

Heide Winzinger, an NJ born folk singer, performs at the Roundtable.

The 2013, 16th Annual Environmental Educators Roundtable was hosted on April 24, 2013 by the Ocean County Soil Conservation District.  As with previous years, the 2013 Roundtable included a variety of hands-on workshops where teachers gained free valuable activities and knowledge to bring back into their classrooms. In addition to the workshops, participants had access to free resources and the opportunity to take home educational door prizes.

The 2013 Roundtable hosted fun and creative workshops along with a great perofrmance from NJ folk singer Heide Winzinger. For more information about Heide Winzinger, please click on the following link:

Ocean County Soil Conservation District
714 Lacey Road
Forked River, NJ 08731
(609) 971-7002