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Public Education and Outreach ProjectsUniversity of Pennsylvania students learn about benefits of sustainble landscaping in Seaside Park.

The Barnegat Bay Partnership supports a number of public education and outreach projects and initiatives throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed.  Find information about our current and ongoing efforts below. If you have questions about any of these projects, please contact the Partnership's  Public Outreach Coordinator, Karen Walzer.

communication and education grant program

For over ten years, the BBP's Public Participation and Education Grant ("Minigrant") Program funded projects that helped increase awareness about the importance of the Barnegat Bay and its watershed and promoted participation in its protection and restoration -- important objectives of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Barnegat Bay estuary program.

In 2007, BBP partners and stakeholders assessed progress on the CCMP and developed a revised set of priorities which reflected the changes in the estuary’s condition and emerging threats, such as climate change. The resulting Strategic Plan (2008 - 2011) focused the efforts of all partners on the priority challenges with commitments to specific actions. In 2012 the Strategic Plan was updated, and the current Strategic Plan (2012-2016) is being used to guide the efforts of the BBP and its partners through 2016. 

In 2010, the BBP developed a Communication and Outreach Plan and formed the Communication and Education Committee (CEC) to support the educational objectives of the Strategic Plan.  The plan established clear objectives, approaches, and methods to engage distinct target audiences that are important to protecting the Barnegat Bay ecosystem.  The CEC reviewed and evaluated the existing Minigrant Program and recommended changes in the program to better reflect the priorities of both the new Communication and Outreach Plan and the Strategic Plan that it supports. 

The CEC has established a new grant program, called the BBP Communication and Education (C&E) Grant Program.  As before, the grant program aims to advance projects that produce tangible results through education and outreach.  The new program increases the maximum award amount to $10,000 and encourages projects that address particular topics and audiences in need of more outreach effort. To learn more about this grant program, click here.

2010 Public Participation and Education Grant Projects

The following projects were selected for funding during the last round of the Minigrants Program. These projects reached thousands of residents and visitors in the Barnegat Bay watershed.  

Berkeley Shores Homeowners and Civic Association, Bayville

"Allen Road Beach:  A 'Living Shoreline'"

Volunteers worked to create an area of salt marsh habitat (a “Living Shoreline”) along the Allen Road Beach in Berkeley Township by planting Spartina grasses at the interface of land and water. The objectives of this project include helping to stop the erosion of the beach; decreasing turbidity in the adjacent waters; and educating the participating volunteers about the project and its benefits to Barnegat Bay. The Berkeley Shores Homeowners and Civic Association has successfully organized American beach grass plantings along their beach for the past three years; this project was the next phase in the overall restoration to natural habitat of their local coastline.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Trenton

"Barnegat Bay Birder-In-Residence"

Through a partnership effort, project leaders developed a Birder-In-Residence Program that educated visitors to Island Beach State Park and the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone about the rare and imperiled birds that live, nest, and migrate through this area in the summer. The expert birder stationed at the popular state park used charismatic wildlife species such as osprey, falcon, and American oystercatcher to peak the curiosity of visitors and used that as a springboard to educate them about the overall health of the Barnegat Bay and how they influence it.

The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, Toms River

"Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink"

Through a series of three outdoor education programs, project leaders brought girls and their families together to discover the importance of protecting water resources. Through age-appropriate environmental activities, girls and their families interactively explored and learned about the water cycle, ground water, watersheds, and non-point source pollution, with a special emphasis on how individual behaviors impact our watershed and the Barnegat Bay. Participating Girl Scouts were encouraged to take a leadership role in their community by creating a community service project that educated individuals about the importance of ground- and surface-water protection.

Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Loveladies

"Got Milkweed?"

Building on the success of their 2009 BBP Minigrant (which created a coastal rain garden at their facility on Long Beach Island), project leaders made improvements to further the ecological effectiveness of the garden and improve its role in educating visitors about protecting Barnegat Bay. Utilizing the Monarch butterfly as their “mascot,” they  developed five distinct programs to achieve the project objectives. They are: milkweed plantings to attract Monarchs; establishing the garden as a “Monarch Way-station” through a partnership with the Monarch Watch organization; adding bat houses, bird feeders, and butterfly houses; adding four rain barrels to the facility and using them to teach visitors how to install them at home; and focusing their weekly summer arts and science camp on rain garden-related themes.

The Borough of Seaside Park

"Multi-objective Stormwater Management Demonstration Projects for Coastal Communities"

Working with the Citizens for Sustainable and Resilient Coastal Communities organization, the Borough of Seaside Park also built on their successful 2009 BBP Minigrant. Their 2009 project established 15 native, sustainable gardens on residential properties throughout town and created educational programs and a guided walking tour for viewing the gardens. Phase II of this project expanded the residential native garden sites into denser micro habitats and created an additional native garden on Borough property in front of the Recycling Center. This garden includes public signage and an educational property-owners guide about best practices. They also provided demonstrations to the public about creating and installing rain barrels and rain gardens. These demonstration educational events helped to raise the profile of their native gardening projects in town so others can learn about protecting Barnegat Bay and building a more sustainable coastal community through responsible practices.  Visit coastal-sustainability.org for more information about this project and new initiatives of the Citizens for Sustainable and Resilient Coastal Communities.

Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Whiting

"A Garden of Native Plants"

Parish leaders and volunteers worked to establish native plants and low-maintenance, bay-friendly landscaping practices on the grounds of their church in Whiting. The demonstration gardens serve as teaching tools for parishioners and visitors as to how they can establish similar projects at home that will help to reduce stormwater runoff and the need to apply fertilizers and pesticides.

The Tuckerton Seaport, Tuckerton

"Just Enough:  Working the Cycle, Past Present, and Future"

Experienced project leaders created a new exhibit designed to educate visitors about the connections between the baymen and their environment. The exhibit features an interactive, touch-screen learning kiosk, a victory garden, an eel grass cleaning station, compost bins, oak eel pot replicas and other educational signage. They also created a series of interdisciplinary lesson plans to enhance learning for visiting students and outreach program participants. The title of the new exhibit is “Just Enough:  Working the Cycle Past, Present, and Future,” which refers to the baymen’s ability to work and support their families throughout every season of the year from the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay region (“Working the Cycle”) and their ability to use those resources responsibly and sustainably (“Just Enough”).

Previously-funded Public Participation and Education Grant Projects

The Barnegat Bay Partnership has had an active Minigrant Program since its inception in 1997.  Click here to read brief summaries of some of the previously-funded projects. 

Potter Creek Crusaders & Kettle Creek Crusaders ProjectsEducational signage installed as part of the Potter Creek Crusaders Project in Bayville_Photo by Joyce Meilner.

With the help of creative and dedicated teachers at their school, sixth graders at Berkeley Elementary School in Bayville have had the opportunity to participate in an afterschool group that explores the nature and history of their local sub watershed, the Potter Creek.  During their meetings, students interact and learn from area natural resource and history experts, many of them partners of the BBP, they go on field trips into the preserved wetlands and forests surrounding the Potter Creek near their school for learning in the field, and document their learning and adventure through photographs which then are used for creating a photo essay book, as well as presenting their information to their fellow school-mates during Earth Day assemblies.  Logo of the Kettle Creek Crusaders

After its first year, the Potter Creek Crusader concept spread to a second school further north in the Barnegat Bay watershed through another creative and dedicated teacher and the Kettle Creek Crusaders at Lake Riviera Middle School in Brick was formed.  Open to all students in the school, the Kettle Creek Crusaders also explored their local sub watershed, the Kettle Creek, had visits and field exploration with local and regional experts, and designed and created a coloring book about their local sub watershed for use in educating second-graders in their area.  Both groups, Potter Creek Crusaders and Kettle Creek Crusaders, designed and erected signage on public spaces in their sub watershed to inform passers-by that they are entering an important ecological area of the Barnegat Bay watershed.  For more information about the Potter Creek Crusaders click here and for more information about the Kettle Creek Crusaders, click here.   

Annual Education and Outreach Retreat for the Barnegat Bay Watershed

This retreat brings together the education and outreach professionals working on Barnegat Bay-related topics to discuss their work and how to better improve their coordination and messaging.  The retreats have been held annually since 2009 at various locations around the Barnegat Bay watershed.   For more information about this event, contact Karen Walzer.

Sea nettle Warning System and Public Outreach Pilot Project

The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) and the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) are working together to help heighten awareness and understanding of sea nettles (stinging jellyfish) in Barnegat Bay and help prevent swimmers from getting stung.   The BBP and the OCHD launched the Sea Nettle Warning System project in 2010 and continued the project for a second year in 2011.

Bay or river beaches in the following nine Ocean County municipalities participated in the project in 2010: Seaside Heights, Brick, Point Pleasant Borough, Island Heights, Beachwood, Toms River, Pine Beach, Ocean Gate, and Lavallette. Employees of the Ocean County Health Department worked with lifeguards at the participating beaches to collect data and monitor the abundance of sea nettles present during the summer season (when lifeguards are on duty). At each beach, information about the probability of being stung that day was posted on a sign hanging from the lifeguard stand (see image below).Each of the four colors depict the potential threat level of being stung based on the number of sea nettles observed in the designated swimming area at these beaches. This basic advisory information may help prevent a sting.

In addition to signage and monitoring at the pilot beaches, the Ocean County Health Department also created a new web page on their site with information about what to do if you are stung by a sea nettle or other stinging jellyfish and ways to avoid being stung.  Visit www.ochd.org/jellyfish.htm for details.  For more information about sea nettles in Barnegat Bay, visit our Hot Topics page.

Bayscape for Barnegat Bay Outreach and Education Program

The BBP is working with the American Littoral Society's efforts to increase bay-friendly landscaping practices and understanding of how lawn and garden care impacts bay and watershed health through a 9-month focused campaign called Bayscaping for Barnegat Bay.   The Littoral Society is focusing on faith-based groups and environmental commissions in the watershed.  The project includes presentations, demonstration garden construction, educational guided tours of existing gardens, and a help-line for those beginning to implement bayscaping practices at their home.  For more information about this effort, contact Helen Henderson, Atlantic Coast Project Manager with the American Littoral Society at helen@littoralsociety.org.