Pinelands Summer Short Course Offers Hikes and Experiences

By PAT JOHNSON | Jun 12, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson The beautiful Pinelands Reserve is the focus of the Pinelands Summer Short Course July 18.

Hammonton — The third annual Pinelands Summer Short Course will feature seven field trips and a day of educational programs that showcase the region’s history, ecology, culture and music. Registration is now open for the event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, at Stockton University’s Kramer Hall, 30 Front St. in Hammonton.

The event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and Stockton University.

“This year’s Pinelands Summer Short Course features an impressive lineup of classroom presentations and field trips ranging from blacksmithing to blueberries,” said Nancy Wittenberg, the commission’s executive director. “Educating the public is a critical part of our mission to preserve, protect and enhance the Pinelands because it heightens awareness and appreciation of the region and its resources.”

“The Summer Short Course provides members of the community and summer visitors with a wonderful hands-on opportunity to learn more about our region’s history, culture and ecology, both in classes at Stockton’s Kramer Hall and during field trips to explore our natural beauty and historic sites,” said Stockton President Harvey Kesselman.

Participants can choose among the following field trips: Join blacksmith Toby Kroll and historian Alicia Bjornson for a tour of Batsto Village that includes a live demonstration of blacksmithing techniques. Or join Bjornson and naturalist Gilbert Mika of Batsto for a tour of the historic buildings at Batsto Village and the Annie M. Carter Nature Center, which houses numerous live animals such as turtles, fish and snakes. Or take a guided hike through an oak-pine upland area and a white cedar swamp wetland area near Hammonton Lake and learn plant identification, fire ecology and the uses of these natural resources through history.

Feeling more adventurous? Jen Bulava, park naturalist for Burlington County, will guide you on a hike of the Blue Trail at Batsto, where you’ll learn about native Pinelands plants and animals while walking the 1.8-mile trail. Naturalist John Volpa of Pinelands Adventures will facilitate a beginner’s kayak trip at nearby Atsion Lake. Transportation, kayaks, paddles and life vests will be provided for all attendees.

Find yourself having a “full farm experience” during a guided tour of the Atlantic Blueberry Co.’s processing and packing plant in Hammonton. After the tour of the plant, attendees will board a labor bus that will transport them to the expansive fields to see and sample different varieties of blueberries.

The over-21 beer-loving crowd can choose from two programs: Jim Sacco, head brewer at Vinyl Brewing Co., will give a guided tour of the brewery in downtown Hammonton where you’ll learn about the brewing process, and sample Vinyl’s beers. Or choose to sit in a classroom for a lecture from Saccor and Shawn Grigus, co-owner and head brewer of Tomfoolery Brewing  (also of Hammonton), about the local craft beer industry: why the industry is thriving and how the use of local ingredients such as blueberries and cranberries is helping to make breweries successful. Attendees will have an opportunity to sample beers by Tomfoolery.

There are myriad classroom experiences to chose from whether it be a virtual tour of the Pinelands by local Joel Mott, programs specialist with the Pinelands Commission, or a lecture on the resident and transient “backyard” bird population in the Pinelands and how to care for them; two foresters with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service will deliver classroom instructions on tree growth and tree identification and ecological forestry; Kristin Qualls, director of exhibitions and collections at the Museum of American Glass in Millville, will deliver a classroom presentation focusing on the history of glassmaking in southern New Jersey.

An environmental management agent with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Atlantic and Ocean counties will deliver a classroom presentation highlighting the sources of water in the Pinelands, and an education coordinator for the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, will deliver a classroom presentation that focuses on the habitats located in the reserve, as well as current research, education and stewardship initiatives.

During the day at Kramer Hall, Denizen Pine, a trio from Atlantic County, will play live music.

The Pinelands Short Course is registered with the N.J. Department of Education, and professional development credits are available to New Jersey teachers who attend.

Registration is $60 per person. Space is limited, so register early, as the event may sell out.

On July 18, attendees should check in at Kramer Hall between 8 and 8:45 a.m. A free continental breakfast will be offered beginning at 8 a.m.

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, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Pat Johnson


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