Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Close Look at the Pinelands

Stockton College stands proudly alongside the iconic pines that it’s unique location is named after and is committed to being an environmental steward to protect the Pinelands National Reserve. What existed in the Pinelands many years ago? How were the land and its resources used?

I met with Mark Demitroff, who calls the Pinelands National Reserve home, to learn more about the Pinelands’ past and about the plant life that I have walked by thousands of times on campus without fully understanding.


The Paleo-Indians were the first inhabitants of the Pine Barrens, which Demitroff calls an “urban wilderness.” It’s highly unlikely that they developed green thumbs. The very name Pine Barrens hints at it’s poor soil quality. The Pine Barrens provided wood for shipbuilding, charcoal and tar production; sand for glass production; and ironstone for constructing buildings. Demitroff details a full timeline of this region in a blog post on the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

As we walked along the Light Path, Demitroff stopped frequently to point out plant life and how it was once used. He uprooted a Queen Anne’s lace flower. He held up the root and asked, “What does this look like?”

A carrot, I replied.

That’s exactly what the common wildflower is–a wild carrot.

He pointed to the sassafras tree. Root beer was once made from the root of sassafras he said.

He tore off a piece of stem from a woody plant and showed how it’s tough fibers were used as a toothbrush.

In just a few feet, we passed black cherry, bayberry, Atlantic white-cedar, buttonbush, and of course pitch pine.

The brief walk showed me how little I knew about the diversity of plant life along Lake Fred.

Don’t let the name mislead you–there’s much more than pine in the Pine Barrens.

Photos: Stockton College Moth Night

Hairy Woodpecker Rescued at Stockton’s Unified Science Center

A juvenile Hairy woodpecker flying towards Stockton’s Unified Science Center saw an extension of the woods instead of a wall of windows. The young bird, fooled by the life-like reflections, crashed into the glass. Lucky for the stunned, motionless bird, Lester Block, a professional services specialist, spotted him on the sidewalk below the windows on his way into work.

The bird was taken to John Rokita at the Animal Care Facility and by late morning was ready for release. He passed the flight test inside the lab with flying colors, so Block, John Rokita, and student Tom Gleason brought him to an open space to set him free.

The Hairy woodpecker, which feasts primarily on wood-boring beetles, is very similar in appearance to the Downy woodpecker. The main difference: the Hairy woodpecker has a larger bill, as long as the bird’s head.


Photos: Backlighting with Dr. Jamie Cromartie

Butterfly Brigade Counts Species, Monitors Local Diversity  

Dr. Jack Connor, professor of Writing, and his wife, Jesse, caught a glimpse of blue flashing by a mimosa tree bursting with blooms. They tracked the streak through binoculars and watched it land on one of the pink puffs. The fluttering specimen proved to be a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), a rarity in our region, which nectared on a flower for 15 minutes giving the Connors enough time to get a good enough look to identify the species.

“That was a thrill,” said Jack Connor, and one of the highlights of the Galloway Township 4th of July Butterfly Count for he and his wife who have participated in the annual species census for more than a decade. Although he wished he had his telephoto lens, Connor did capture a few macro shots from a distance. To see the photos, visit his Smugmug page.


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Summertime Nature Walk

Stockton College to Host Moth-ing Event on Galloway Campus for National Moth Week

From the Stockton College News Archive

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey’s resident entomologist Dr. Jamie Cromartie will lure nighttime nature to a backlight for observation on Friday, July 25, 2014 during the third annual National Moth Week.

Nature enthusiasts of all ages will have the chance to see some of the estimated 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species that inhabit our planet. Participants will meet at 8 p.m. in the unpaved parking lot on Vera King Farris Drive across the street from the Arts and Sciences Building. The rain date is Monday, July 28.

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