Christine Schairer: Curator of Stockton’s Greenhouses

Christine Schairer’s “second office” is a tropical microenvironment that always feels and looks like summer. The professional services specialist in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics curates and manages the care of more than 500 orchids, cacti, succulents and rare plants that grow in Stockton’s greenhouses.

“It’s my favorite place,” she said.

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Blake Beyer, Haley Hancharuk Learn the Art of Horticulture at Stockton’s Greenhouses

Blake Beyer, a senior Environmental Science major with a concentration in Wildlife Management, and Haley Hancharuk, a junior Computer Science major, are diversifying their Stockton experience by learning the art of horticulture at the Stockton greenhouse.

Both are student employees working for Stockton alumna Christine Schairer, who is now a professional service specialist in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Although they have very different coursework and aspirations, Beyer and Hancharuk have a common interest in gardening, botany and horticulture.


Left: Blake Beyer, a senior Environmental Science major with a concentration in Wildlife Management, walks through the F-Wing greenhouse, with Christine Schairer, of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, in the background. Right: Haley Hancharuk, a junior Computer Science major, arranges a terrarium.

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PHOTOS: #StocktonBiodiversity

Since the @StocktonBiodiversity Instagram account was launched in September, many images have been tagged with #StocktonBiodiversity. Here are a few.

Keep tagging!

-Susan Allen


Thank You Stockton Biodiversity Volunteers!

The Stockton community shares its Pinelands campus with a unique variety of flora and fauna. Wild orchids, the once-endangered osprey, tiny tree frogs, migrating waterfowl and many other species are located just a few steps away from the main buildings. Last week, more than 40 students, faculty and staff volunteered to explore this biodiversity. Thank you to all! Many gave up their lunch break, stayed late after work or dodged rain drops during a surprise downpour to participate in this research project for the Master of Arts in Instructional Technology Program.

First, volunteers took a pre-test seeking to assess their awareness of campus biodiversity. Afterwards, they piloted the Stockton Biodiversity nature trail that wraps around the perimeter of Lake Fred and took a post-test, which will help me to assess how well the nature trail worked in raising awareness of campus biodiversity.

The field guides are available to anyone who visits the campus and are stored in a wooden box at the start of the Light Path. Trail guides are also available online.

-Susan Allen



Stockton Biodiversity Trail Guides Now Available

Trail guides are now available on the Light Path across from the gazebo to help us get to know Fred a little bit better. The guides highlight a selection of plant and animal life that can be observed throughout the seasons along the one-mile perimeter of Lake Fred. Follow the wooden signs with arrows to stay on the trail.


A limited supply of guides is available, so I ask that they be returned to the box for future visitors.

Before hitting the trail, download a QR code reader onto your smartphone. There are a few QR codes in the trail guide that share audio and video of species in action.

Long pants, socks and comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

If you capture photos and/or videos along the way, share your sightings on social media using #stocktonbiodiversity.


-Susan Allen

Stockton Biodiversity is now on Instagram!

Start tagging your campus nature sightings with #StocktonBiodiversity for your chance to be featured on the new StocktonBiodiversity Instagram account.

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Emily Burnite Engages in Marine Research Through Stacy Moore Hagan Memorial Internship Program

Emily Burnite peers through a jumbo magnifying glass—the kind one sees in a dentist’s office—to get a closer look at the brown splotches growing on the smooth, pearly-white interior of a surf clam. Burnite is looking at spat, the scientific name for young, developing oysters.

She carefully counts and logs the number of oyster larvae embedded onto the shell.

The Marine Science senior from Churchville, PA, worked with the Marine Science and Environmental Field Station this summer to get a clearer picture of the size and distribution of the oyster population in the Mullica River Great Bay Estuary.

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Happy #SharkWeek Ospreys

Stockton students came face-to-face with a sand tiger shark (well, sort of). The toothy smile appeared on a computer monitor while they were capturing underwater footage with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).



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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.