Photo of pollinator garden
Exchanging lawn for garden, this homeowner attracts a variety of pollinators and wildlife to her Jersey-Friendly Yard. Photo by Becky Laboy.

We hope you enjoyed our 2021 webinars. We’re planning a new series starting in January of 2022. Email Karen Walzer at with any suggestions for topics or speakers for next year’s webinars.

About the 2021 Webinars

Jersey-Friendly Yards webinars are free and provided via WebEx Events. They are on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm. The live sessions are an hour long with time for questions. To join the webinars, you will need either a computer, tablet, or smartphone with speakers. After each webinar and with presenter permission, we add a link to a video recording of the webinar to the Webinar Description sections below.

Scroll down for the links to recordings of the 2021 webinars. Email Karen Walzer at if you have any questions.

Fall Webinar

October 12, 2021
Spiders – They Can Be Your Friends!
View the recording of this webinar (password to view: Spiders2021).

Learn how spiders, the enemies of your enemies, can be your friends! What benefits do spiders provide in our gardens and in our lives? How do we welcome them to our landscapes? What are some common spiders found in New Jersey? What about all those spider myths—are they really just myths? All of this and more will be discussed in this arachnid-packed webinar. 

Presenter: Sabrina Tirpak, Principal Laboratory Technician, Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory
Sabrina received her B.S. in Plant Science from Rutgers University, with an emphasis in horticulture and turf industries, as well as a minor in entomology. Sabrina has over 20 years of experience in all things that can and do go wrong with plants and teaching people about them. She is an avid gardener and animal lover who enjoys growing way too many vegetables, landscaping for birds and wildlife, and spending time with her dogs.

Summer Series: Jersey-Friendly by Design

Our July-September webinars provided information about how to use landscape design principles to plan gardens that are both wildlife-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Webinar Descriptions and Recording Links

July 13, 2021
Designing Gardens to Support the Native Web of Life
View the recording of this webinar (password to view: Design#1). Download the handout for lists of plants discussed in the program.

The key to beautiful and healthy Jersey-Friendly Yards landscaping is planning. Bruce Crawford discussed how to compose attractive native gardens designed to benefit pollinators, beneficial insects, and other wildlife.  He covered the fundamentals of landscape design, including the use of color and texture and concepts for creating outdoor spaces, to help you plan delightful native gardens that support the native web of life! 
Presenter: Bruce Crawford, State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture, NJ Agricultural Experiment Station.

August 10, 2021
Designing and Planting with Native Plants: Creating a Native Habitat
View the recording of this webinar.

Creating a Jersey-Friendly yard requires understanding what a habitat is and how its parts fit together. This program by Elaine Silverstein starts with a basic model of a native habitat garden and describes, step by step, how to create a garden that is both beautiful and welcoming to insects, birds, and other wildlife. The focus is on practical information: what is a native plant? Which native plants are best adapted to my site? How can I find native plants? How do I lay out the garden? How do I care for it once it’s installed? Elaine will provide a Resource List that includes sites to visit, references, and sources of native plants.
Presenter: Elaine Silverstein, Horticulturist

September 14. 2021
Soil, Water and Light – Tips for a Successful Garden Design
View the recording of this webinar.

Designing a successful Jersey-Friendly garden begins with an understanding of the basic elements that support plant growth – soil, water and light. Knowing these conditions in your yard will help guide your species selection and your overall garden design. Becky will provide you with information, tools and resources to assess these conditions in your yard, offer suggestions for appropriate plant species selection, and share ways to design your garden based on the soil, water and light conditions in your yard.
Presenter: Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District

About the Presenters

Bruce Crawford

A longtime proponent of unusual and fun plants, Bruce had his own design/build garden design business for nearly 25 years that specialized in plantings for year-round interest. From 2005 to 2020, Bruce was the Director of Rutgers Gardens, the botanical garden for Rutgers University, and is currently the State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture with the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station. He has also been an instructor in the Landscape Architecture program at Rutgers University since 1987, and lectures frequently to various groups and for continuing education programs.

Elaine Silverstein

Elaine Silverstein is a horticulturist trained in Sustainable Landscape Management at the New York Botanical Garden, where she continues to study botany, ecology, and landscape design. She has a small horticulture practice in Bergen County, where she advises clients on sustainability techniques, designs gardens based on native plants, and speaks to local gardening and community groups. She is founder and one of the leaders of the Bergen-Passaic chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey and co-chair of the Glen Rock Shade Tree Advisory Committee.

Becky Laboy

Becky is the full-time Education Outreach Specialist with the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. She has over 20 years of experience as a formal classroom teacher and informal environmental educator. Becky also serves as a co-leader for the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. In her spare time, Becky can usually be found behind a pair of binoculars as an avid and devoted birder. She enjoys landscaping her own Jersey-Friendly yard to attract and support birds and wildlife.

Spring Series: What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard?

In our January-June webinar series, a line-up of bug experts shared information about how to recognize beneficial insects versus pests, how to manage pests safely using non-toxic methods, and how to build a buggy web of life in your yard using native plants. See below for links to recordings of most of the webinars.

Webinar Descriptions and Recording Links

January 12, 2021
Getting to Know the Good Guys: Beneficial Insects in the Landscape
View the recording of this webinar.

Not all bugs are bad, so let’s meet the beneficial insects in your backyard. Predators, parasites, and pollinators—learn about how to recognize these good guys, their biology, and how to keep them happy in your yard.
Presenter: Sabrina Tirpak, Principal Laboratory Technician, Rutgers University Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.

February 9, 2021
Myth Busters: The Truth About What’s Bugging You
View the recording of this webinar.

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. With over 1 million described species, insects account for about 75% of all animal species. Insect diversity is essential in maintaining functional ecosystems, productive natural areas and working lands, and overall biodiversity. However, human perceptions of insects are often negative resulting in insects being misunderstood, underappreciated, and in some cases, unnecessarily feared. This session will cover a variety of “insect myths vs. truths” with the goal of reversing common misconceptions.
Presenter: Kelly Gill, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Partner Biologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mid-Atlantic / Northeast Region.

March 9, 2021
Cultivating Respect for Insects: An Overview of the Ecosystem Services That Insects Provide
View the recording of this webinar (password: Buggywebinar3).
View and/or download Dr. Dan Duran’s “Highly recommended native plants for the Mid-Atlantic.”

Simply put:  all life on earth depends on insects, for more reasons than most people realize. This talk will explore some of the immeasurably important ways that insects keep ecosystems functioning, including nutrient recycling, pollination services, and trophic interactions. It will also cover ways in which we can conserve much-needed insect diversity in our own yards.
Presenter: Dr. Dan Duran, Assistant Professor, Rowan University Department of Environmental Science.

April 13, 2021
What Lurks Above and Below: Spotted Lanternfly and Crazy Worms
View a recording of the webinar.

The invasion has begun!  Two non-native species: spotted lanternfly and Asian crazy-worms have already made it into New Jersey’s agriculture, yards, gardens, and forests. Learn the tools to how you can fight back, including their identification, biology, impacts, research, and control measures. The talk will also include how non-native pests have a serious negative impact on ecosystems and their health.
Presenter: Paul Kurtz, Entomologist, NJ Department of Agriculture

May 11, 2021
Attracting Bees and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants
A recording is not available for this webinar.

Most insects have a positive impact in our landscapes. Native plants can be selected to attract specific bees and beneficial insects including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings. Learn about the predator-prey relationships of these flower-visiting beneficial insects and how they help keep problem insect populations in balance. The life cycles, diversity, and nesting habitat of native bees will also be discussed along with examples of native plants for different site conditions.
Presenter: Heather Holm, Author of the book Native Plants for Pollinators and Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide.

June 8, 2021
Ferocious Dragons and Dainty Damsels
The link to the recording of this webinar is no longer available.
Additional resources from Pat Sutton.

This primer to the winged jewels known as dragonflies and damselflies will cover the most common species, their natural history (life cycle, seasonality, what they prey on, and who preys on them), and how to identify one from another.  Sutton, a long-time successful wildlife gardener, will share how to lure these ferocious mosquito predators into your own yard by creating a no-fuss wildlife pond.
Presenter: Pat Sutton, Educator, Naturalist, Author

About the Presenters

Sabrina Tirpak

Sabrina Tirpak is the Principal Laboratory Technician at the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. She received her B.S. in Plant Science from Rutgers University, with an emphasis in horticulture and turf industries, as well as a minor in entomology. Sabrina has over 20 years of experience in all things that can and do go wrong with plants and teaching people about them. She is a frequent lecturer and invited speaker at various conferences and educational programs throughout the tri-state area on the topics of turf, ornamental, and structural insect pest problems. Sabrina is also an instructor in the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School where she teaches laboratory courses in diseases and insect pests of turfgrass and ornamental plants. Sabrina is an avid gardener and animal lover who enjoys growing way too many vegetables, landscaping for birds and wildlife, and spending time with her dogs.

Kelly Gill

As a Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Specialist and a Partner Biologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kelly provides technical assistance on pollinator conservation in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. This work includes planning, designing, installing, and managing habitat for pollinators. Kelly also works with Xerces staff and research partners to develop technical guidelines and provide training on pollinator conservation practices. Kelly completed her Master’s Degree in entomology at Iowa State University.

Dr. Dan Duran

Dr. Daniel P. Duran is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Rowan University as well as the Naturalist for Scotland Run Park, a 1300-acre nature preserve at the edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  He has published research papers on agricultural entomology, biodiversity, and molecular phylogenetics.  Dr. Duran has described ten new species of insects, previously unknown to science.  He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton University in 1998, an M.S. in Entomology from University of Missouri in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Evolution and Ecology from Vanderbilt University in 2010.  In between his degrees, he has also worked for the Natural History Museum, London, UK and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.  Dr. Duran is a co-author of the book A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition.

Paul Kurtz

Paul has been working for the NJ Department of Agriculture for over 21 years as an entomologist. He has supervised large programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle program, NJ Forest Pest Outreach and Survey, and Plum Pox Virus Programs. Recently, he has focused his attention on the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly programs. Paul also writes and executes various federal surveys throughout the state for non-native pests in forests and crops. In 1997-1998, he worked for The Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension as a research technician in the area of crop pests.  Paul has a BS in Biology from Stockton University, BA from Drew University in Sustainable Development, and post-graduate education at Northeastern/Yale School of Forestry in Sustainable Development and Tropical Biology based in Costa Rica. To date he has traveled to 87 countries worldwide.

Heather Holm

Heather is an award-winning author and nationally sought-after speaker spending much of her time passionately educating audiences about the fascinating world of native bees and the native plants that support them. Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, was published in 2014, and her latest book, Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide, published in 2017, has won six book awards including the 2018 American Horticultural Society Book Award. Her latest book, Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity, and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants, became available January 2021. Heather studied horticulture and biology at the University of Guelph and later web programming and digital design at Seneca College, Canada.

Pat Sutton

Pat has keenly studied the natural world for over 40 years, first as the naturalist at the Cape May Point State Park in the 1970s and 1980s and then for 21 years as the naturalist and program director at the Cape May Bird Observatory (1986 to 2007). Pat has an undergraduate degree in Literature and a Masters degree in Environmental Education. She and her husband (Clay Sutton) have written a number of books: Birds and Birding at Cape May (2006), How to Spot Butterflies (1999), How to Spot Hawks & Eagles (1996), and How to Spot an Owl (1994). Today Pat is a free-lance writer, photographer, naturalist, educator, lecturer, and wildlife habitat/conservation gardening champion! She is a passionate wildlife habitat gardener and advocate for butterflies, moths, bees (all pollinators), birds, dragonflies, frogs, toads, and other critters. Pat has taught about wildlife-friendly and native plant gardening for over 30 years. Her own wildlife garden is a “teaching garden” featured in many programs, workshops, and garden tours. For more information, visit Pat and Clay’s website.