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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
November 16, 2011
Invasive Pest Activity Station -- New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today unveiled an invasive pest activity station at Insectropolis, an insect learning center in Toms River, as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Pest Outreach Survey Program’s efforts to educate people about invasive pests that can damage trees and forests. The interactive educational resource, consisting of a computer screen set inside a fabricated tree trunk, is meant to teach people more about invasive pests, what they should look for, how they impact the ecology and environment, and steps to take to prevent them from spreading. It also points out the differences between damaging invasive pests and beneficial invasives. The activity station was a cooperative effort between the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Pest Quarantine and Insectropolis.
FFA and Farmers Against Hunger – On November 14, Secretary Fisher joined members of the Ocean County FFA Chapter at the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Jackson Center to help them bag apples, potatoes and sweet potatoes for Farmers Against Hunger, who is donating the Jersey Fresh produce to the needy as part of Thanksgiving dinner baskets.
Gypsy Moth – After surveying more than two-thirds of the municipalities that requested egg mass surveys to determine if they qualify for the NJDA’s Gypsy Moth Spray Program in 2012, no spray blocks have been identified. Fifty-two towns requested the surveys and more than 36 are now complete. The surveys are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Populations of gypsy moth had declined throughout the state as a result of effective treatments and high Entomophaga maimaiga activity since the spring of 2009.
Beginning Beekeepers Class – State Apiarist Tim Schuler in October taught this year’s third Beginner Beekeeper class, in cooperation with Rutgers Office of Continuing Education. This class had 55 students who spend 2.5 days at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown learning about the honey bee and beekeeping practices. This is the fourth year that the apiarist has taught 3 beginner beekeeping classes in the year. Since that time, more than 1,000 people have been trained in beekeeping.
Agricultural Emergency Management Workshop – The NJDA Division of Animal Health, along with USDA Veterinary Services, hosted an agricultural emergency management collaboration workshop on November 2. The objective of the workshop was to improve collaboration between the 15 various agricultural partners, stakeholders, and agencies in attendance. The workshop presented a hazard scenario involving feed contamination in a New Jersey dairy, which led to a number of issues impacting food safety, animal and human health, and the environment.
Annual Commodity Food Show – The Division of Food and Nutrition will host its annual show of processed food items for school meals on Thursday, November 17 at the Sun Center in Trenton. The show is held for school food service representatives and highlight new and healthy products. Students from Green Brook and Old Bridge school districts will be on hand to do a food tasting to help assist districts in selecting the most liked and nutritious products.
2012 Agricultural Fair Ambassador Crowned -- Allison Lessig of Milford will serve as the 2012 New Jersey Agricultural Fair Ambassador. The 17-year-old Delaware Valley Regional High School Senior was selected by the Agricultural Fair Association of New Jersey at the group’s annual meeting on Sunday, November 6 in Eastampton. As ambassador, Lessig is charged with visiting the state’s agricultural fairs in 2012, discussing the fairs, promoting agritourism to the public, and bringing people together to support the state’s agriculture industry. While Lessig did not grown up on a farm, she lives in an agricultural area, raises chickens and breeds Labrador Retrievers. She does landscaping work at a veterinary hospital and has worked in a kennel grooming dogs and maintaining the facilities. She was selected as the 2012 Hunterdon County 4-H Fair Ambassador, is the President of the Hunterdon County Fur N Feathers Club, and breeds and shows Fancy Poultry.
NJ FFA at the National FFA Convention -- Biotechnology High School FFA members placed first in six of the 20 Agriscience Fair categories and third in two of the categories at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October. The Agriscience Fair is a competition for FFA members who are interested in the science and technology of agriculture. It is held annually at the national convention. The competition recognizes students studying the application of scientific principles and emerging technologies in agricultural enterprises. The students conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture and food science industries and present their findings to a panel of judges with a display and report. Nineteen Biotech students participated in the Fair after placing first in the state event held last spring. In addition, Ami Adams of Cape May Tech FFA was named Agriscience Student of the Year Runner Up for her research on terrapin turtles.
Trivette Honored – Nancy Trivette, NJDA Program Leader for Agricultural Education and State FFA Advisor, was honored on October 18 with the 2011 Outstanding NASAE Member Award at the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education Conference in Indianapolis. The award recognizes a member who has made outstanding contributions to agricultural education state supervision. This is the first time a woman has won the award, as well as a person from New Jersey.
COSDA – At the annual meeting of the Communications Officers of State Departments of Agriculture, NJDA’s Jeff Beach was installed as the 2012 President, which means New Jersey will host the 2012 COSDA conference.
Conservation Poster Contest Winners -- Twelve winners were selected for the 2011 Conservation Education Poster Contest, sponsored by the NJDA, NJ Association of Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The theme of the contest was “Forests For People, More Than You Can Imagine.” The Poster Contests’ 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners were selected in 4 categories: Grades 2-3; 4-6; 7-9; and 10-12. The winners received awards and recognitions from the Conservation Partnership in early April.