Changing Climate, Changing Yards

Saturday, September 30, 2023 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Native Plant Sale from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Cost: $20

Here in New Jersey we’re seeing the impacts of a changing climate, including in our yards. At this year’s conference, we learned about Jersey-Friendly landscaping practices that can help us get ready for climate-change challenges like heat, drought, intense rain and flooding.

Our featured speakers were Dr. Christopher Obropta (Extension Specialist in Water Resources, Rutgers Cooperative Extension) and Christopher Miller (Plant Center Manager/Conservation Agronomist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service). As always, a native plant sale was part of the conference.

Conference Location

The conference was held in the Gateway building on the campus of Ocean County College, College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754.

Conference Schedule

8:30 – 9:00 am
Exhibits and morning refreshments

9:00 – 9:15 am

9:15 – 10:30 am
Rain Gardens for Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
Presenter: Dr. Christopher Obropta, Ph.D., P.E., Extension Specialist in Water Resources, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Rain gardens can help fix drainage problems, provide pollinator habitat, reduce climate change, and be another beautiful feature in your Jersey-Friendly Yard. This presentation covered the many benefits of a rain garden, where to place a rain garden on your property, and how to build one. Dr. Obropta discussed plant material for the rain garden and how you can get technical support to build a rain garden at your home.

10:30 – 10:45 am

10:45 am – 12:00 pm
Sustainable Landscaping for a Future Climate
Presenter: Christopher Miller, USDA-NRCS Plant Center Manager/Conservation Agronomist
Creating a sustainable landscape for a future climate is somewhat daunting at first, because it seems to go against the grain of our instincts to rule and control nature. Incorporating design elements of the natural environment into the home landscape and a more “hands-off” approach to landscaping has gained momentum in recent years. With planning and initial management, a sustainable landscape can provide a low maintenance and naturally aesthetic look for a long time. This presentation provided some insight into plant selection for various site conditions and highlighted how the Jersey-Friendly Yards database can assist you.

12:00 – 12:15 pm
Closing remarks

12:15 – 2:00 pm
Native Plant Sale

About the Presenters

Dr. Christopher Obropta
Dr. Obropta is the Director of the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute, an Extension Specialist in Water Resources with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and a Professor with the Department of Environmental Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University. He leads a highly specialized staff from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program to identify and address water resources issues by engaging and empowering communities to employ practical science-based solutions to help create a more equitable and sustainable New Jersey. Over the last twenty years, Chris and his staff have been working with communities to implement green infrastructure practices throughout New Jersey to help these communities increase their climate resilience.

Christopher Miller
Chris is a Conservation Agronomist and has served as Manager of the USDA-NRCS Cape May Plant Materials Center since 2009. Prior to this position, he served for 18 years as an NRCS Field Plant Materials Specialist for the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. He has provided guidance to NRCS State Technical Specialists and Field Office/Conservation District staff on techniques and plant selection for conservation practices, including disturbed area stabilization, conservation cover, filter strips, riparian buffers, and wetland restoration. In addition, he has worked with many partnering federal, state and local agencies on stabilizing disturbed and eroding areas. In 2019, he served as an NRCS Liaison to both the Northeast and Southeast USDA Climate Hubs studying strategies for agricultural producers to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Chris has a B.S Degree in Agronomy from Penn State and an M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from the South Dakota State University.

Native Plant Sale

Three nurseries offered a variety of native plants for sale at the conference.
Earth First Native Plant Nursery
Steven Kristoph Nursery
Toadshade Wildflower Farm (also offered a variety of native seeds for sale)