Ruby-throated hummingbird on cardinal flower
Ruby-throated hummingbird on Cardinal flower. (Photo by Bill Buchanan, USFWS)

Wild About Jersey-Friendly Yards

Because of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to transform our annual Jersey-Friendly Yards conference into a series of webinars. You won’t have to miss out on the great speakers we had lined up for the conference. The Wild About Your Jersey-Friendly Yard webinars will enable you to see their presentations from the comfort of your home.

The Jersey-Friendly Yards website is designed to guide you through the steps to a healthier, more wildlife-friendly yard. Loss of natural habitat throughout the world has led to serious declines in populations of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. By gardening for wildlife in our yards, we can help reverse this trend.  As Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope says, “Garden as if life depended on it.”

About the Webinars

The Wild About Jersey-Friendly Yards webinars will be free and provided via WebEx Events. They will be every other Tuesday at 7:00 pm from July through September. The live sessions will be 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 will add a link to a video recording of the webinar to the Webinar Description section below.

Webinar Registration

You must register to participate. Webinar titles and descriptions are listed below. You can register for them individually by clicking on the title of each webinar you wish to join. If you have any questions about the webinar series or how to register, please contact Karen Walzer at

July 7, 2020: Introduction to Jersey-Friendly Yards
View the recording. Password: Wildwebinar1
July 21, 2020: If You Plant It, They Will Come
(A recording is not available for the July 21st webinar.)
August 13, 2020: The Buzz with Bees: Native and Managed Pollinators
August 18, 2020: Plant This, Not That: Deer-Resistant Native Alternatives to
Invasive Plants

September 1, 2020: Attracting Birds to Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
September 15, 2020: Wild About Composting
September 29, 2020: How and When to Clean Up the Winter Wildlife Garden

Webinar Descriptions

July 7: Introduction to Jersey-Friendly Yards
Learn how to use the Jersey-Friendly Yards website’s resources and tools, including the searchable Plant Database, to help you “put out the welcome mat” for wildlife in your yard. The webinar will showcase several Jersey-Friendly gardens with a focus on eliminating the “tamed landscape” and replacing it with a beautifully “wild” garden.
Presenters: Karen Walzer, Public Outreach Coordinator, Barnegat Bay Partnership and Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District
View the recording. Password: Wildwebinar1

July 21: If You Plant It, They Will Come
Butterflies, pollinators, birds, and other wildlife rely on native plants to survive.  Dr. Randi Eckel will discuss the importance of supporting our native wildlife within our gardens, show examples of some creatures that rely upon specific plants, and discuss the complexities of attracting rare wildlife (rare butterflies, for example) to our gardens. 
Presenter: Dr. Randi Eckel, owner of Toadshade Wildflower Farm
A recording is not be available for this webinar.

August 13: The Buzz with Bees: Native and Managed Pollinators
Learn about the biology, ecology and habitat of native and managed bees in New Jersey and what you can do in your yard to support them.
Presenter: Mike Haberland, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Associate Professor/County Agent- Burlington/ Camden Counties.

August 18: Plant This, Not That: Deer-Resistant Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants
The NJ Invasive Species Strike Team is known for its work in eradicating invasive species for the protection of native plants and wildlife. Dr. Mike Van Clef will discuss the impacts of invasive species in natural areas, ways to identify and control them at your home, and native alternatives. He will also cover how to select deer-resistant native plants and develop creative ways to protect any native plant from marauding deer.
Presenter: Dr. Mike Van Clef, Director, NJ Invasive Species Strike Team

September 1: Attracting Birds to Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
Native plants are the key to attracting birds to your yard. They provide the habitat, food, shelter and nesting places that birds need to survive. By creating a landscape of beautiful plants that are compatible with our native soils, you can make your yard a low-maintenance, chemical-free oasis for the birds!
Presenter: Becky Laboy, Education Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District

September 15: Wild About Composting
Compost and leaves are great resources for gardeners and provide an excellent source of food and shelter for animals. Sandra Blain-Snow will discuss how to invite a host of animals, birds and beneficial insects into your yard by recycling organic materials. Stop bagging leaves and taking them to the curb and start building a wildlife sanctuary in your Jersey Friendly Yard.
Presenter: Sandra Blain-Snow, Recycling Program Aide, Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management

September 29: How and When to Clean Up the Winter Wildlife Garden
From the perspective of a life-long naturalist intimate with the workings of the natural world, Pat Sutton will share countless common-sense garden maintenance techniques that will help property owners avoid common practices that actually harm rather than benefit wildlife.
Presenter: Pat Sutton, Educator and Naturalist, Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden

About the Presenters

Becky Laboy – Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District

Becky is the full-time Education Outreach Specialist with Ocean County Soil Conservation District. She also instructs the Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalist course through Ocean County College, and leads birding tours with Ocean County Parks and Recreation. 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. When not teaching about soil conservation and leading people on outdoor adventures, 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.

Karen Walzer – Public Outreach Coordinator, Barnegat Bay Partnership

Karen coordinates the communication initiatives and educational programs for the Barnegat Bay Partnership, a National Estuary Program working to protect and restore clean water and healthy habitat in the Barnegat Bay ecosystem. She helped create and now manages the content for the Jersey-Friendly Yards website. Karen has a B.S. degree in Biology from Bucknell University and is a licensed NJ Registered Environmental Health Specialist.  She is also a Master Gardener and co-leader of the Jersey Shore chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.

Dr. Randi Eckel – Owner/Founder of Toadshade Wildflower Farm

Randi has been working with native plants for over 35 years, and founded the mail-order native plant nursery Toadshade Wildflower Farm in 1996 to further public awareness and availability of native plants.  A life-long naturalist, lover of nature, entomologist, and confirmed plant and ecology nerd, Randi specializes in the interactions between plants and other living things.  She is known for her lively and engaging lectures and workshops on growing and propagating native plants, and offers interesting, nuanced information on the complex issues facing native plants and native plant communities.

Mike Haberland – Associate Professor/County Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Burlington/Camden Counties

Mike’s current research projects focus on aquatic plant management, cyanobacteria monitoring and treatment, pollinator habitat creation, and implementing initiatives for watershed management and conservation. His work includes environmental research in Watershed Restoration for Healthy Ecosystems (focusing on stream, lake, and pond ecosystems), and a Detention Basin Management, Maintenance, and Enhancement Program, which creates meadows in stormwater basins to improve water quality and provide pollinator habitat.  Mike also teaches undergraduate courses in Apiculture and River and Stream Ecology. 

Dr. Mike Van Clef – Director of the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team & Stewardship Director of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space

Mike co-founded the Strike Team in 2008 with the goal of bringing greater efficiency and effectiveness to invasive species management. Mike has a Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University and over 25 years of experience in land stewardship and planning and research, working extensively in the evaluation and management of rare and invasive species and deer management. He has consulted with over 30 organizations in New Jersey, including the NJ Invasive Species Council, for which he prepared the New Jersey Strategic Management Plan for Invasive Species.

Sandra Blain-Snow – Recycling Program Aide, Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management

A life-long composter and Master Gardener for eight years, Sandra honed her composting skills by enrolling in the Master Composter Class in 2001. She stepped into the role of instructor for the program in 2006. As an advocate for composting and an avid vermicomposter, she has concentrated her efforts on public outreach.  Since 2018, Sandra has worked for the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, which oversees recycling in the county and sponsors the Master Composter Program.  In her spare time, Sandra is an ardent gardener, animal lover, and amateur bird watcher.

Pat Sutton – Educator and Naturalist, Pat Sutton’s Wildlife Garden

Pat Sutton

Pat has keenly studied the natural world for 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 is a passionate advocate and wildlife habitat gardener for pollinators, birds, dragonflies, frogs, toads, and other critters.  Pat has taught gardening for wildlife workshops and led tours of private wildlife gardens for over 30 years. Sutton’s own wildlife garden is a “teaching garden” featured in many programs, workshops, garden tours, and several books.