New Summer Pinelands Short Course Offered

May 31, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Batsto Lake canoe trip is part of the Pinelands Summer Short Course.

Registration is now open for the first-ever Pinelands Summer Short Course, offering guided nature hikes, a Batsto River canoe/kayak trip, history and blueberry tours, live music and presentations on winemaking, butterflies and the American Revolution.

The field trips and daylong educational programs are centered at Stockton University’s Kramer Hall, 30 Front Street in downtown Hammonton, on July 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Pinelands Summer Short Course is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and Stockton University.

“The Pinelands Commission has held the Pinelands Short Course in early March for the past 28 years, and that event is thriving,” said Nancy Wittenberg, the commission’s executive director. “While we will continue to hold the regular Short Course in March, we felt it was important to create a new tradition that enables the public to explore the Pinelands during the peak of summer, when wildlife abounds.”

Some of the programs include: a two-hour, guided tour of the Atlantic Blueberry Co.’s commercial farm in Hammonton; a full-day, environmental specialist-guided canoe trip along the Batsto River with a focus on plant life; a full-day van tour focusing on the traditional industries in the Pinelands; a full-day hike between the Mullica and Batsto rivers with naturalist John Volpa; and a two-hour, guided walk of Hammonton’s historic downtown. Also offered are a two-hour, guided walk at Batsto Lake, with a focus on dragonflies and damselflies; a two-hour presentation that highlights the history of winemaking in New Jersey with Tom Consentino, executive director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association; a presentation on butterflies and moths of the Pinelands; a presentation on the Battle of Chestnut Neck by historian Norman Goos; and a presentation on the health benefits of blueberries by Amy Howell, an associate research scientist with Rutgers University.

Nicholi Vorsa, director of Rutgers University’s Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension, will provide details on the domestication of high bush blueberries. Agriculture has long been a vital industry in the New Jersey Pinelands, and Keely Ditizio of Salem County Vocational Technical High School will deliver a hands-on presentation focusing on the unique soils and ecology in the Pinelands. There is a live music performance by New Jersey native Gabe Coia, whose original songs celebrate the history, folklore and ecology of the Pinelands.

Space is limited, so it is critical for participants to register early, as the event may sell out. The Pinelands Short Course is registered with the New Jersey Department of Education, and professional development credits are available to New Jersey teachers who attend. Registration is $60 per person. For more information about the courses, call 609-894-7300, extension 125. Full course descriptions are available on the commission’s website: To register online, visit To register by phone, call 609-652-4227, Monday through Thursday.

— Pat Johnson

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