Quarterly Reporter – March 2019

These are held at the conclusion of the next two membership meetings

These workshops are perfect for people who want to become
Implementing the stewardship projects at home earns points towards designation.
Dr. Chris Obropta Rutgers Agricultural Extension

Gardening for Rain and Plant-Germination Workshop
Dr. Christopher Obropta
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Meeting 6:30 pm
Presentation at 7:15 pm
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Dr. Christopher ObroptaJoin us on Wednesday, March 13th for a do-it-yourself presentation on rain garden installation. Dr. Christopher Obropta of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service will provide practical information on this topic.

In addition Karla Rossini, CU Maurice River’s Program Manager, will lead a germination workshop so attendees can plant rain-garden-appropriate species seeds in trays. The necessary materials will be on hand the night of the presentation. Everyone is welcome to attend. However, if you wish to take your own tray of rain-garden-planted seeds home, please 1. RSVP and 2. donate $8.00 for the materials the night of the presentation. Materials are limited, so please RSVP as soon as possible. If you prefer not to plant a seed tray but just wish to listen and learn that’s okay too.

Dr. Obropta is the Extension Specialist in Water Resources with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and he is an Associate Professor with the Department of Environmental Sciences at the School of Environmental & Biological Sciences, Rutgers University. He has a doctorate in Civil Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, and an M.S. and B.S. in Civil Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Rutgers, Dr. Obropta was an environmental consultant for 12 years at Omni Environmental Corporation. His specific experience includes watershed restoration, onsite wastewater treatment system design and management, wasteload allocations and TMDL studies, stormwater management, wetland design, effluent dilution analyses, longshore sediment transport, computer-aided design, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Rain Barrel Workshop
Emma Melvin
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Emma MelvinEmma Melvin is the American Littoral Society Delaware Bayshore Program Director. She is working with the Delaware Bayshore office team on conservation and restoration projects throughout the target area. Her understanding of watershed and environmental issues in our region makes her a great choice to discuss conserving water and how you can start reusing this resource by installing a rain barrel. There will be a modest fee of $10.00 to be paid at the door for those who wish to create and take home a rain barrel. Materials are limited and RSVPs are required. Be sure to make space in your car for carting your barrel home afterwards. Thus far, all previous participants have had auto models that have accommodated them, but we recommend leaving the real mini vehicles at home.

SAVE THE DATE – July 10, 2019
Speaker Dennis Palmer Director of Landis Sewerage Authority
Eco-Leader: LSA’s Green Initiatives

Moo La celebrating a successful Holiday Match
Moo La celebrating a successful Holiday Match

This was a smashing success: a tad zany but well-received. We not only met the $20K challenge but exceeded it by about $3,000. Well done and thank you, everyone!




Having fun at the Ah Why Knot Oyster Bar
Having fun at the Ah Why Knot Oyster Bar

A HUGE DAY of fun! – The 2018 Annual Ah Why Knot Awards and Pig Roast, with special guests, the International Shorebird Recovery Team.
Saturday May 18th is the big event! All members and volunteers are invited to attend the annual Pig Roast and Pot Luck with the shorebird team, where we will also present our Ah Why Knot Awards for the year. This is a great celebration at the river, and we want you to come! Please RSVP to Doreen and let us know whether you would like to bring an appetizer, side dish, or dessert. Additional entrees, especially vegetarian and vegan options, are appreciated. Folks are welcome to arrive starting at 2:00 p.m. for a paddle or some time outdoors, and volunteers are also welcome to arrive at 2:00 p.m. to help with set-up. Please email Doreen or call 856-300-5331 if you can help with set-up and/or clean-up. This year’s music will be offered by the Package Goods Orchestra, selected by the AC Press as the region’s best cover band. Dinner will take place around 5 p.m.

Cheryl Howell receives 2018
Cheryl Howell receives 2018

DAWN SONG – On the morning of May 18 join the 2019 World Series of Birding Fish Hawks team members Tony Klock, Kathy Michel, Mary Watkins, and hopefully our newest addition, James Blumenstein, for a great guided walk. Who knows – possibly past team members like Clay Sutton, Laurie Pettigrew, Karen Williams, Diane Jones, Karen Johnson, or others might show up as well. The walk begins at 6:30 a.m. at Hansey Creek Rd. in an effort to hear spring migrants singing. Tony is likely to arrive even sooner than that; one never knows. The road tends to have great attributes: little to no traffic, wonderful birds and, being on the macadam, fewer ticks. Afterwards you may decide to join Karla and Tony for a Bayshore Paddle before heading to the Ah Why Knot Pig Roast.


The day will begin with a 4th Saturday Walk – meeting at 9 a.m. in Waltman Park. At 5 p.m. new members will be invited to a Meet and Greet followed by a 6:30 p.m. Campfire & Potluck at the Russells’ home. This is one of our most popular sites for a campfire, and a super location to see the Maurice River across from the iconic Burcham Farm. Tim and Mary Ann Russell’s hospitality is a fantastic component to this enjoyable evening.



Above is this year's design, which will be on a wheat-colored t-shirt with wheat lettering.
Above is this year’s design, which will be on a wheat-colored t-shirt with wheat lettering.

Support the FISH HAWKS! On May 11 our World Series of Birding Team will hit the trails looking for as many different species of birds as they can identify along the Delaware Bayshore. The team is comprised of Mary Watkins, Tony Klock, Kathy Michel, and James Blumenstein.

Jim is a new addition. He lives in Audubon, NJ with his wife and three kids, and has been teaching social studies at Sterling High School in Somerdale since 2005. He loves connecting his students with nature through bird watching and other outdoor activities. Jim has participated in the WSOB several times in the past, always in Cumberland County, but this will be his first year as a Fish Hawk. He is pleased to have the opportunity to help raise awareness and funding for CU.

Please pledge to support your team. There are two ways to do so: a straight donation of a particular amount or a pledge per species seen (the team generally spots around 130-145 different species). Those who donate $50 or more receive a designer Fish Hawks t-shirt; this year it is a wheat color and features an osprey that has captured a fish. It is very dramatic! Supply us with your size if you’re eligible.


Century Savings Bank logo

Thanks to Century Savings Bank for being a key team sponsor!



CU’s absolute best family night of fun and education. Spend the evening looking for and identifying the hoppiest nature around. Learn to recognize frogs by their breeding songs. Bring a flashlight or head light and be prepared for soggy conditions – knee high or higher boots preferred. Touch tanks and camera opportunities. No fee. Please register by email to receive more information. If you do not have internet access and would like to attend, call 856-300-5331. Location will be made known to registrants.


Pictured: turkey tail fungus commonly seen on the Maurice River Bicycle and Walking Trail
Pictured: turkey tail fungus commonly seen on the Maurice River Bicycle and Walking Trail



Our members have asked that we reinstitute Saturdays at Waltman Park. By popular demand, these Saturdays along the Maurice River Bicycle and Walking Trail are back! Join CU Naturalists and Nature Enthusiasts for this series’ kick-off walk for 2019 on Saturday, March 23, 9:00 a.m. at Waltman Park. Nature excursions will be held on the fourth Saturday of March, April 27, June 22, July 27 (paddle), August 24, September 28, October 26, and November 23. Participants from previous years mention that beyond the fellowship of like-minded people offered by these outings, they also appreciate experiencing how our urban oasis changes from month to month. This Green Acres preserve, managed by the City of Millville, has a great diversity of habitat, wildlife, and flora. Each month there is something new to see. If you don’t have a CU brochure to The Maurice River Bicycle and Walking Trail be sure to ask for one at our office. We also have checklists for fauna along the walk and an email guide to plants. We invite you to join us after the walks for a picnic lunch at Glasstown Brewing Company. While the brewery does not serve food, you can pack your own brown-bag lunch or bring food in from another establishment.

Unsheltered by Barbara KingsloverBOOK CIRCLE

The book-reading circle for “Unsheltered,” by Barbara Kingsolver, was postponed from February 20th until March 14th due to inclement weather. Suzy Merighi will be leading the discussion at Bogart’s Books in Millville, followed by lunch at Andrea’s Restaurant. This is listed in the newsletter, so we would encourage you to be sure to check our calendar and email postings on a regular basis.


On a number of Wednesdays we have planned work parties; there is one nearly every month. The next scheduled work dates are March 20 and April 24. The May 14, 21, and 28 work parties will primarily involve Return the Favor horseshoe crab rescue. See particulars for these dates in emails.

March 20 will be a tree planting in conjunction with the American Littoral Society at Giampietro Park. The work will commence at 9:00 a.m. at the site near Landis and Lincoln in Vineland. Email Karla if you would like to participate, and indicate whether you would like to work with students or focus on planting trees. Extra shovels and boots will prove useful.

Osprey Platform Construction and Installation
Sunday, March 24th

Raising an osprey platform

Sunday, March 24th, we will be building an osprey platform and then erecting it at Money Island. The platform will be replacing a nest removed when homes were taken over by the bay and then demolished by the Blue Acres program. Construction will take place at 1 p.m. in Millville; the platform will then be transported for installation at Money Island. We expect to have concluded our work by about 4 p.m. If you like the out-of-doors, are strong, good with tools, and own boots, this is the perfect project for you to consider. If you’re interested email Jane Morton Galetto or call 609-774-5853.

Associate Artist Show – Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts
Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday, March 15 CU will be sponsoring the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts Associate Artist Show from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 22 N. High St., Millville, NJ 08332. The exhibit features local artists who often depict the beauty of our region, inspiring others to appreciate the great out-of-doors through their works.


Saturday, March 16 Trash Hunt with CCIA & CU – Meet at the CU Maurice River office at 9 a.m. The City of Millville’s Bicycling & Walking Trail abounds with habitat types that are home to a variety of wildlife. By participating in this park clean-up, you can help the local environment and the community, all while enjoying a fulfilling outdoor experience with family and friends. The Cumberland County Improvement Authority’s Annual Trash Hunt inspires many community members and groups to get outdoors and care for some of our most treasured public spaces. CU Maurice River has committed to cleaning up the Waltman Park Bicycling and Walking Trail for this countywide effort. We hope you will join us. To participate, please sign up and then meet us at 9 a.m. at Waltman Park off North Brandriff Avenue in Millville.

Horseshoe crabs Photo credit: Joanna Burger
Photo credit: Joanna Burger

Saturday, April 13 Return the Favor Training with Karla Rossini and Laura Chamberlain in the East Point Lighthouse. Learn how to help stranded horseshoe crabs! Not only are crabs saved but the data collected make a difference in planning for the conservation needs along the Bayshore, which in turn helps many riparian creatures. This training session is only for new RTF volunteers. Experienced volunteers should come by the CUMR office to pick up their permits once we have them available.

Saturday May 18 Dawn Song with the Fish Hawks. Join some members of our World Series of Birding team to experience the early morning singing of local and migrating birds through our region. The team members traditionally lead this event one week after the World Series. After the walk, you may decide to join us for a Bayshore Paddle. This event takes place on one of our BIG DAYS in May – the CU Pig Roast and Ah Why Knot Awards.

Saturday, June 8 learn about nesting birds at Belleplain State Park. Birding enthusiast Bert Hixon will be leading this outing.

For each of the upcoming events watch for emails for specific details. If you don’t have internet access contact Karla at 856-300-5331.

Barn Day will be June 2, a great day of camaraderie. We will need CU Ambassadors to assist in greeting and helping with CU Paint a Landscape. If you have not been to the Barn Studio you won’t want to miss this wonderfully old-fashioned fun day with artists. To volunteer as a CU Ambassador email Doreen or call 856-300-5331.


WheatonArts Spring Kick-Off Event – On April 6 Jane Morton Galetto and Christine Brown will be leading walks at 10:30 and 1:30 along the WheatonArts Nature Trail. Come to this event where we celebrate all that WheatonArts has to offer visitors! Experience the Spring Festival: see the Asian New Year Celebrations, explore the Emanation 2019 exhibit in the Museum of American Glass, create unique make-and-take projects, and discover the arts of wheel-throwing and glassblowing with special demonstrations. Admission to all WheatonArts exhibits and artist studio demonstrations are FREE and open to the public for the day, part of Family Days! Presented by PNC Arts Alive!

WheatonArts Ecofair Saturday, May 4th – For a number of years CU Maurice River has been an active participant in WheatonArts’ Ecofair. We been hosting the keynote speaker and introducing the participants to the interpretative trails installed by WA and CU.

Pat Sutton on the left leading a wildlife garden tour at her home
Pat Sutton on the left leading a wildlife garden tour at her home

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce that this year’s keynote will be Pat Sutton. For her regular fan club know this presentation will unveil a new program: “It’s a Jungle Out There: LIFE & DEATH in the Wildlife Garden.” Pat and Clay Sutton have witnessed some amazing natural history happenings in their 41-year old wildlife garden, some heart-warming and some heart-stopping. Be prepared for an eye-opening view into the natural world, occurrences that happen every day out in the wild but are rarely seen, unless you’ve created a wildlife garden so welcoming that wildlife feels quite at home!

Pat Sutton has keenly studied the natural world for 40 years, first as the naturalist at the Cape May Point State Park in the 1970s and 1980s and then for 21 years as the naturalist and program director at the Cape May Bird Observatory (1986 to 2007). Pat has an undergraduate degree in Literature and a Masters Degree in Environmental Education. She and her husband (Clay Sutton) wrote the landmark book, “Birds and Birding at Cape May” (Stackpole Books, 2006), the in-depth result of their efforts over many years documenting and protecting the migration and the Cape May area that they so love. Other books by Pat and Clay include “How to Spot Butterflies” (1999), “How to Spot Hawks & Eagles” (1996), and “How to Spot an Owl” (1994). Today Pat is a free-lance writer, photographer, naturalist, educator, lecturer, tour leader, and wildlife habitat / conservation gardening champion. She is a passionate advocate and wildlife habitat gardener for butterflies, moths, bees (all pollinators), birds, dragonflies, frogs, toads, and other critters. Pat has taught gardening for wildlife workshops and led tours of private wildlife gardens for over 30 years. Sutton’s own wildlife garden is a “teaching garden” featured in many programs, workshops, and garden tours. For more information visit Pat and Clay’s website: www.patsuttonwildlifegarden.com

Join us on May 11 for the grand opening of the Neighborhood Wildlife Garden. Over the past couple of years CU has coordinated the creation of a wildlife garden in downtown Millville at 213 N. 3rdStreet. The Millville Development Corporation has supported this project through grant distributions.


Wild About CumberlandMarch 26 & 27 Wild About Cumberland

This year we will once again coordinate and partner with the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, The Nature Conservancy, Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, and PSEG to get Cumberland County 4th graders into the great out-of-doors. Teachers, students, and chaperones will be treated to a half-day outdoors on nearby trails with CU leaders and volunteers, and a half-day indoors at the Bivalve Center with sessions that emphasize “sense of place” and focus on local habitats and species. A very special thank-you to the National Park Service and OceanFirst Bank for making this program possible.

We are holding an informational training session for this program on Monday, March 18th. If you are new to this education program and are interested in joining us, please email Karla.

March 30 Family Day at The Ellison School
We are looking for CU Ambassadors to represent CU Maurice River at our table. For this event Meghan and Karla will be leading a bee hotel construction activity, while Ellen Pederson will plant seeds of bee-friendly flora species.

Month of May – Hosting the International Shorebird Recovery Team
If you would like to provide a meal or be part of a cooking crew for the shorebird scientists please email Jane or call her at 609-774-5853. She will be contacting past participants and/or their team captains. For those new to this undertaking, we have been feeding the scientists and their assistants, who come from a number of countries to continue their research on shorebirds, for over 10 years. A team or over-energetic chef basically makes a meal for 25 to 30 folks. It is much easier than it sounds. It is buffet style and the scientists will lend a hand if necessary. You do not have to clean up or set tables (although everyone’s approach is different). It is an experience you won’t want to miss. If you are a newbie to the process we can connect you with a team to provide a side or dessert.


The upcoming Tuesdays on the Fly will take place April 16, May 7 and June 4.
On April 16 Jane Morton Galetto and Christine Brown will meet the caravan in Susquehanna State Park where they will have scouted out some ephemerals with MD native and CU member Diane Jones. After a morning in the park we will go to Havre de Grace for a fun dining experience.

May 7 will focus on shorebirds. June 4 will be a surprise.

Look for more details and sign-ups on line. If you do not have access to the internet please contact the office and let them know you are interested 856-300-5331.


Ambassador Training
A small group of interested volunteer attended the Ambassador Training at the CU office January 31. People who have attended a training session often become our representatives at local events.

Laughing eagleEagle Festival
The February 2 Eagle Fest was a great success. A big thank-you to the Cumberland County Planning Office for coordinating the event. The presentation roster was assembled by Leslie Ficcaglia, and everyone did a super job of making the day interesting. The children’s venue was hosted by the Clay College and Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts. The area’s historical societies were opened for the day to offer a cultural component to the festivities. East Point Lighthouse, Mauricetown Historical Society, and Maurice River Township Heritage Society all provided opportunities to learn more about the history of the area. The naturalists from NJ Audubon and CU did a great job of creating enthusiasm on a brisk but sunny day. The walks by CU, Natural Lands, and Bayshore Center at Bivalve were well-attended. The Mauricetown Firehall prepared meals and it is reported that the Bayshore Center’s soup festival was a success, selling out on all offerings. As is traditional the day ended with an owl walk where many of the event’s leaders and participants all joined for one last communal farewell to a great festival.

CU Social with Emile DeVito
Our first CU Social of the year was Dr. Emile DeVito’s presentation on Pinelands plants and animals. He did a stellar job of sharing information; passion and fun are his trademarks. The event once again drew a full house.

Garden Report
At the first Volunteer Work Group of 2019, 13 people mulched the back half of the Neighborhood Wildlife Garden with salt hay. Last year that area was planted with native bush and tree species. Mulching was important not only for aesthetic reasons, but we hope that the cover will help keep some of the invasive weeds at bay. Karla has gotten Lakeside Middle School and Cumberland County VoTec involved in a 3 part workshop series. They will grow plants, develop botanical signs, and install both at the garden in the spring. CU Maurice River continues to partner with the Holly City Development Corporation in order to offer green solutions for Millville’s downtown neighborhood.

Presentation to Garden Club
In Franklinville – Karla presented The Giving Garden: Environmental Stewardship at Home for Community Health, at the Country Garden Club. Over 50 attendees were present.

Coalition for the Delaware
We signed on to the Coalition for the Delaware Watershed’s letter requesting federal funding for the Delaware River Watershed Restoration Program.

New Eco-Leader Designee
CU Maurice River is proud to announce its newest Eco-Leader designee, Espoma Company. This local business develops organic gardening products. During their designation ceremony attendees viewed the construction of a large solar array, which will make Espoma’s facilities self-sufficient. Their list of green initiatives is extensive: organic-approved products, zero-waste manufacturing, bio-preferred packaging, LED high-efficiency lighting, energy-star-rated cool roofing, a pollinator garden, and a recycling program, among others.

County Leaders Select Not to Receive Hazardous Waste
A special thanks to the Cumberland County Freeholders and the Cumberland County Improvement Authority for rejecting a proposal to accept hazardous materials in our landfill from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. When we heard of plans to bring polyfluoroalkyl-substances-filled soil (essentially from a hazardous fire retardant foam) we contacted county officials concerning our understanding of what some of the associated risks might be. The Freeholders and CCIA Director Gerard Valazquez III listened to local, state, and regional entities and they reconsidered. We have had a good relationship with the CCIA on many clean-up projects and wish to salute the Director on his decision to decline the material. Thank you, Gerry!

The annual Chili Bowl on March 9th was great fun and very successful. Once again it was sold out, and the attendees enjoyed a scrumptious variety of chilis, from mild to spicy and from vegan and gluten-free to conventional. The auction items were superb and the bidding was enthusiastic. Thank you so much to the many people who did a super job!

Nature Around Us cu snj logoSNJ TODAY

Pick up a copy of SNJ Today at local establishments and take note of their expanded Nature Around Us series. We have articles appearing here and in the Feature section, where we are collaborating to bring material of interest to their readership. We offer a special thanks to SNJ Today for their curiosity about our region’s natural wonders. Click here to read a recent article.

Further we are also joining the Xspero network that helps raise money for nonprofits and brings customers to local businesses. Please keep an eye out for ways you can participate.


A great deal of time is spent on planning educational experiences for our members and local children, each directed toward building an awareness about our natural resources. We hope you will take advantage of the great variety of things we offer, be it field trips, workshops, presentations, campfires, or advocacy. Please look over our calendar and website and join in the fun.

We have put a lot of effort into a new way of tracking donations and all related notifications to our members. You will notice that if you donate electronically we will now respond using the same medium, providing you with an immediate acknowledgement and a letter for accounting purposes. This feature is efficient and we hope you will find it friendly and personal, as we have been continually tweaking our correspondences.

We have also designed a new tracking method for our volunteer efforts.

The Chili Bowl has been a great undertaking and our Events Committee worked very hard to make it a successful event. Thanks to everyone.

We continue to coordinate with Green Acres on preservation efforts.


Kindly help us by ensuring that your membership is up-to-date and/or invite a friend to join. Membership is set at $20 for individuals and $30 for families, although our average annual donation is approximately $75. Mail your check to PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332 or join online. Thank you!

And a special thanks to all those who give the equally important gift of your time. We couldn’t do this without you!