HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) of Hunterdon County released their 2019 Annual Report citing volunteer and community service, sustainable agriculture and home horticulture instruction and training, and many other vital services to Hunterdon residents, according to Freeholder John E. Lanza.
Lanza, the Board’s liaison for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, said, “The RCE continues to not only be instrumental in helping farmers in Hunterdon County, but also, as the RCE Annual Report shows, the agency does so much more. Programs included in the collaborative County and University enterprise are; the 4-H Youth Development program, workshops on food safety, assistance with farm certifications, teaching local residents how to grow fruit trees, and educating farmers about healthy soil. All of these efforts are vital to our agriculturally strong county.”
Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent Megan Muehlbauer regularly makes one-on-one field visits to local farms, assisting on all facets of agriculture from tree fruit pruning and orchard design to providing soil fertility recommendations. Ms. Muehlbauer advises Hunterdon County farmers on innovative field research projects funded by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant program.
The Rutgers University Tree Fruit Integrated Pest Management Program, lead locally by Atanas Atanassov, aids in protecting trees and fruits from the devastating effects of disease and insects. Atanas guides farmers in minimizing the use of pesticides, to keep farmers, consumers, and the environment safe.
Sandra Grenci, Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS) Educator, and County Extension Department Head, says “RCE has continually adapted to serve the needs of new and existing audiences under changing and challenging times. Our outreach has expanded to include virtual and online programming, and the use of social media to keep consumers informed on important issues.”
FCHS offers webinars on timely wellness topics, such as healthy eating, chronic disease prevention, safe home food preservation, and stress management. In-person diabetes support groups lead by Sandra are now offered online, to help residents with continued self-management.
Sherrie Peterson, 4-H Program Assistant, leads the 4-H Youth Development program in a myriad of events aimed to support youth and volunteers in Hunterdon County. Innovative, hands-on, virtual workshops are provided to help youth manage the stress of remote academic learning, on topics related to arts, crafts, and foods! Favorite 4-H annual events, such as the Holiday Workshop and Annual Achievement Night, will transition to a virtual platform this year, to allow youth and families to fully participate in these important events.
Horticultural Consultant and Research Associate Rebecca Magron leads the RCE Master Gardener program training and outreach. With over 100 trained and active volunteers, educational outreach programming reaches thousands of community members, including local schools, vulnerable populations, civic organizations and individuals. The Master Gardener Helpline is a unique service available to residents, assisting hundreds in answering questions and solving problems in horticulture each year.
The RCE is part of the Federal Land Grant University system serving as the education outreach arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. Providing research-based information for more than 90 years, the RCE strives to better the lives of Hunterdon residents through a cooperative agreement between Rutgers, the State University, and the Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The goals of the RCE are to support healthy lifestyles for residents, provide productive futures for youth, adults and communities, enhance and protect environmental resources, and ensure economic growth and agricultural sustainability.
To contact the RCE, call 908-788-1338 or visit their website.