New Jersey ranks forty-sixth in geographical size but ranks first in population density, with 1,134 people per square mile, fourteen times the national average. This increasing population density and intense land use have degraded our state's water resources. In 2009, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection joined forces with Rutgers Cooperative Extension on a pilot program that hired five county environmental and resource management agents to work directly with municipalities, counties, and watershed groups to help develop and implement solutions to address these water resource problems. Since their hire, the agents have delivered a number of educational and outreach programs on water resource management.
The first commercial plantings of three Rutgers cranberry varieties, Crimson Queen, Mullica Queen and Demoranville, came into maturity in 2009, and superior crop yields have been realized in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. One of the first beds of Crimson Queen, planted in Wisconsin in 2005, yielded nearly three times the state average of about 250 barrels per acre. Licensees have planted these varieties in virtually all major North American cranberry growing areas. Two authorized growers of the Rutgers cranberry varieties have orders for over 370 new acres in 2010, and pre-orders are running into the year 2012. Initially available only to a limited number of cranberry growers, the Rutgers varieties will be made available to all cranberry growers in the near future.
To promote entrepreneurial and innovative education in the agricultural sciences, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, in partnership with NJAES, has retooled its oldest major with a goal of creating a nationally ranked program to meet local and global agriculture needs. Existing courses are being updated and new courses added, with faculty on and off campus--including those in Cooperative Extension--delivering the curriculum. In addition to targeting traditional Agricultural Science undergraduates, plans are underway to significantly expand enrollment by targeting non-traditional audiences--recruiting individuals seeking to change careers or those who have degrees like economics or planning, but who may wish to learn about the food production system, either as a producer or in a position related to the food industry.
Eating meals as a family can strengthen bonds and provide valuable life skills, such as good manners. It can also help to develop healthy eating behaviors by establishing habits that are likely to last into adulthood, according to Kathleen Morgan, chair of the Department of Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS). As an added bonus, children who eat more family meals get more of the nutrient-rich foods that build strong bodies and brains: more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat milk; fewer fried foods and soft drinks. To assist families in planning meals, FCHS has recently authored four new Family Mealtimes fact sheets and developed a new educational program called Eating Together, Eating Well.
To coordinate and communicate bioenergy research and outreach activities, the NJAES Sustainable Energy Working Group (SEWG), led by Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, was established in 2009. The SEWG aims to become more familiar with NJAES faculty and staff research interests, identify and coordinate grant opportunities, and create more synergy at NJAES in the area of bioenergy. The group is developing collaborative research and outreach projects in bioenergy crop production, technology, economics, policy, education, and training. In December, a training seminar attracted 60 attendees from state agencies and nonprofit organizations responsible for bioenergy funding or project management. Topic areas included understanding basic energy principles, energy conservation, and carbon sequestration.
The NJAES Office of Continuing Professional Education partnered as training provider and grant administrator with Cooper University Hospital, the largest healthcare provider and employer in Camden. Cooper was awarded a $1.4 million Customized Training Grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. More than $1.1 million was used to train Cooper's 4,000 doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff on Epic, a new, state-of-the-art electronic health record system. Grant money also funded classes on computer, life support, language, customer service, leadership, and management skills. "We're excited to partner with Rutgers. Their trainers are outstanding in every area they teach," said John P. Sheridan, Jr., Cooper Hospital president and CEO.
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