Two-thirds of crop varieties require animal pollination for production, and many crops are improved by insect pollination. Bees are the most important pollinators in most ecosystems, with domesticated honeybees commonly used by farmers. Rachael Winfree, a new faculty member in Rutgers' Department of Entomology, has been examining native bees as pollinators and has found them to be capable of extremely effective plant pollination, even in traditional agricultural settings. Her findings on the efficiency of individual native bee species as pollinators, and of the effects of land disturbance on native bee biology, have led to recommendations for New Jersey farmers and land owners on how to use this natural biological resource most effectively.
The NJAES Master Gardeners program was launched in 1984 in Bergen County by then County Agent Ralph Pearson. Over the past 25 years, the program has grown into a widely respected and awardwinning statewide initiative of Rutgers University. More than 5,000 New Jersey residents have been trained and have volunteered over that time, with over 2,000 remaining active. Master gardeners have selflessly volunteered over 1.2 million hours--a nearly $18 million value--to the residents of New Jersey. They provide gardening demonstrations and clinics, answer questions through a telephone helpline and at county fairs, assist faculty in research projects, aid in horticultural therapy, and harvest food for the hungry.
The IR-4 Project represents an important partnership among Rutgers, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, and the USDA. The IR-4 Project is the only publicly funded research program that facilitates the registration of the newest generation of reducedand lower-risk pesticides for specialty crops and other minor uses. The project conducts the research necessary to support a wide variety of specialty crop pesticide applications needed to maintain a stable and affordable supply of food and ornamental crops. Scientists funded through IR-4 conduct this critical research at the Rutgers Fruit and Ornamental Research Extension Center at Cream Ridge. In its latest strategic plan, one of IR-4's new initiatives with significant statewide and global impact is to support the registration of public health pesticides.
The New Brunswick 4-H program was launched in May 2009 in response to a call by Latino community leaders to establish youth development programming in their community. The program utilizes the structure and philosophy of 4-H, while working with community organizations such as Lazos America Unida. Over 175 youth have enrolled in the program, which focuses on culture, dance and arts, leadership, sports, English as a second language, and gardening. More than 30 adults have been trained as volunteer club leaders, and a companion Rutgers student organization has been formed to assist with fundraising and to provide assistant volunteer leaders. Partnerships have been formed with local businesses and organizations to provide resources and support for the program.
Just three years after its inception, the Rutgers NJAES Center for Vector Biology has matured into a facility that meets NJAES and state mosquito control needs while providing an internationally recognized research program in vector (insect)-borne diseases. Weekly surveillance reports and risk assessment models assist mosquito control agencies with intervention decisions, while workshops provide training on topics such as mosquito biology and identification, wetlands management, trap calibration, and aerial insecticide application. The center produced 19 refereed papers and received grants totaling nearly $1 million in 2009, including $300,000 awarded by the Deployed War Fighter Protection Fund, a program to safeguard U.S. soldiers from vector-borne disease.
Forty-four high school youth from Camden, Hackensack, Paterson, and Trenton participated in the first Rutgers 4-H Summer Science Program, held on the George H. Cook Campus. During their week-long residential experience, the youth explored science through hands-on activities at the Equine Science Center, the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and the Department of Food Science. They learned about campus life from an undergraduate student panel and participated in leadership and team-building activities, including a trip to the Rutgers Challenge Course. This enabled students to become 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology Ambassadors. In this role, they will work with their local 4-H program to promote 4-H and science to other youth.
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