Nature-Inspired Local Folk Art Makes Earth Day Every Day at the Jacques Cousteau Reserve.

By JCNERRS | May 01, 2019
Photo by: Trinity Nuttall IRON MAN: Blacksmith Stephen Nuttall (left) created a three-panel iron artwork that depicts the three habitats, forest, marsh and bay, located within the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve. With Nuttall on Earth Day, April 22, are Cousteau Reserve representatives Kaillin Gannon, Lisa Auermuller and Rose Petrecca.

Tuckerton — The Jacques Cousteau Estuarine Research Reserve celebrated Earth Day with new folk art designed and fabricated by local blacksmiths. The work at the entrance to the Grassle Marsh Trail represents three habitats found in the reserve – forest, marsh and bay. The three-panel display is a new, permanent installation at the Grassle Marsh Interpretive Trail kiosk. Visitors to the trail will now enjoy an up-close look at local flora and fauna species found throughout the reserve, rendered in detailed metalwork.

Leading the design and fabrication of the nature-inspired folk art was Southern Ocean County blacksmith Stephen Nuttall. Nuttall, a 2017 and 2018 Folk Arts grant recipient from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts, began his apprenticeship in 2015 under master blacksmith Toby Kroll. He also worked with the Tuckerton Seaport to design and install the current blacksmith shop. Nuttall’s folk art created for the Jacques Cousteau Reserve is just one example of his desire to forge deeper relationships with his community by re-creating historic items necessary for the baymen’s life on the Jersey Shore.

Kroll, a third-generation blacksmith, began his artisan blacksmith work after meeting his wife, Kate Kroll, 19 years ago. Today, he is the blacksmith at Batsto Village in Wharton State Park in Hammonton. After retiring from 30 years in the classroom, Kate Kroll has enjoyed developing her smithing skills by working with her husband at their home forge, interpreting at Batsto’s forge, traveling to workshops, teaching blacksmith lessons and demonstrating at fairs.

Assembly and installation of the new folk-art pieces were made possible through the efforts of the Ocean County Department of Corrections Work Crew Unit. Officer Frank Gordon and his crew have adopted the Grassle Marsh Trail as one of their dedicated locations for maintenance and stewardship. Through their ongoing efforts the trail remains safe and enjoyable for reserve visitors.

The Grassle Marsh trail is a half-mile nature trail located at the Cousteau Reserve’s Coastal Education Center on Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton. The trail has been built and maintained through grants from the N.J. Department of Transportation’s Recreational Trails Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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