Building Aquaculture Career Interest and Competencies Through Student Engagement in a Pilot Apprenticeship Program

August 5th, 2022

Shellfish farming is an important and ever growing sector in New Jersey’s coastal economy. Given the continuing entry of new shellfish farmers and planned expansion of existing farms in the State, further growth is inevitable and would result in significant ecological and economic benefits while providing high quality sustainable seafood to meet increasing consumer demand. 

The new Apprenticeship in Shellfish Aquaculture Program (ASAP) is an initiative offered through a partnership between New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Rutgers University that offers high school students an opportunity to learn about aquaculture while getting their “feet wet” in the field through virtual and experiential training. The purpose of this pilot project is to introduce middle and high school students and their communities to aquaculture as a career opportunity and an emerging and important food production system. By providing a pathway to enter careers in this growing sector, ASAP provides students with an understanding of the field of shellfish aquaculture and helps them build necessary skills so that they are employment-ready and primed for a successful career start. 

Diana Burich with ASAP students at Cape May Salt Oyster Farm.

Project development began in summer 2021, when collaborators engaged NJ educators interested in increasing aquaculture literacy in their schools with industry professionals in a 3-day workshop to develop curriculum content, discuss instructional approaches and to identify necessary employment skills. Teachers then recruited students for ASAP in spring 2022, which employs a three-fold approach: virtual workshops, in-person “boot camp” and 20-hour farm work experience.

Beginning in May, seven high school students participated in four hour-long virtual workshops where they learned about local and global applications of aquaculture and had the opportunity to interact with researchers, professionals and shellfish growers. During the week of June 27, ASAP students participated in the second program component: a 1-week summer training “boot camp” that offered in-class lessons and field experiences at Rutgers University’s Cape Shore Laboratory and Aquaculture Innovation Center in Cape May County.

Students learning about oyster ecology & biology from Michael Acquafredda, PhD post-doc from NOAA NEFSC

According to Diana Burich, Director of Education and co-creator of the program, “As the aquaculture industry in New Jersey grows, there is a real need to help shellfish farmers find competent employees. ASAP is an opportunity for students who already have an interest in shellfish aquaculture to be immersed in learning about this food source, how products are grown and marketed, and what it really takes to make that happen. The students were full of enthusiasm and enjoyed the activities, and the entire group, collaborators and students alike, were understanding of the importance of this project. Whether students plan to pursue aquaculture in college or head directly out into the workforce, NJSGC has a responsibility as a resource in helping to bring these two sectors together and provide relevant opportunities for growth.”

Facilitated by Burich and collaborators Jenny Shinn of Rutgers University’s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory and Lisa Calvo of Sweet Amalia Oyster Farm, students learned about the biology and ecology of oysters and hard clams, two economically-important species grown in NJ. Students toured Cape May Salt oyster farm, built farm gear, and helped maintain “crops” to keep them fouling- and disease-free. Staff and interns at the Aquaculture Innovation Center and Cape Shore Lab led students through hatchery and husbandry operations, where students learned about life stages and the importance of algae in the production of larval spat.. Experts like Michael Acquafredda, PhD, National Research Council’s postdoctoral research associate from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA NEFSC) and Douglas Zemeckis, PhD, Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources County Agent, met with students and talked about current research and shellfish farms as agricultural and commercial businesses . Students even learned to shuck oysters, identify flavor profiles and cook Oysters Rockefeller.

NJSGC’s Coastal and Marine Science Education and Community Engagement intern, Catherine Rodriguez with Jihyana Price, NOAA IN-FISH intern.

Students are currently in the final phase of the program: 20-hour farm experience where they will gain experience in aquaculture-related work thanks to collaborating industry partners such as Sweet Amalia Oyster Farm in Cape May Courthouse and Forty North Oyster Farm in Barnegat. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a Shellfish Aquaculture Apprenticeship Certificate of Accomplishment, a stipend for their participation and a greater appreciation for New Jersey’s shellfish farmers and the aquaculture industry overall collaboration with industry and academic project partners 

Sea Grant Announces 2023 Finalists for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program

July 27th, 2022

The 86 finalists in the 2023 class of the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Sea Grant have continued the tradition of the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program and have announced the finalists of the 2023 class. The finalists, who are early career professionals, will be placed in Washington, D.C. federal government offices. The 2023 class represents the largest in recent years with 86 finalists. Since 1979, over 1,550 fellows have completed the one-year Knauss fellowship program, applying their experience to lasting careers in science, policy, and public administration.

New Jersey Sea Grant’s very own nominee, Alexandra Swanson of Princeton University, has been chosen as a finalist for the prestigious Fellowship and we wish her luck on her journey!

Alexandra Swanson, Princeton University; New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

NJSGC Executive Director, Dr. Peter Rowe notes “NJSGC is extremely thrilled that Alexandra Swanson has been selected as a 2023 Knauss Fellowship finalist. Ms. Swanson’s experiences at Brown and Princeton, from her being a policy analyst for the Providence City Council, to her Peace Corps work in Panama, and her current conservation internship at the Council on Environmental Quality make her a truly outstanding candidate. Given Alexandra’s background and characteristics, especially her maturity and vision, her drive, and her scientific talents, Ms. Swanson will make an excellent Knauss Fellow. NJSGC wishes her the best success.”

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes comprehensive review at both the state Sea Grant program and national levels. Students that are enrolled in or have recently completed master’s, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a focus and/or interest in marine and coastal science, policy or management apply to one of the 34 Sea Grant programs. If applicants are successful at the state program level, their applications are then reviewed by a national panel of experts. This year’s class of 86 finalists comprises students and recent graduates from 62 distinct universities, including 16 finalists from nine minority-serving institutions. The finalists represent 29 of the 34 Sea Grant programs, and they completed coursework and research in a range of fields, such as biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, environmental science and management, law, marine and coastal sciences and policy, and several disciplines of oceanography.

“The Knauss Fellowship offers graduate students the invaluable opportunity to put their academic knowledge to practice in tackling marine, coastal, and Great Lakes management and policy challenges at the federal level,” said Jonathan Pennock, Ph.D., National Sea Grant College Program director. “We look forward to welcoming the 2023 class of Knauss fellows and seeing how they will apply their unique insights to developing solutions to some of the most important challenges facing the country.”

In an effort to be more equitable and inclusive, the application process for the 2023 Knauss Fellowship was restructured from past years. This included shifting from a generic personal statement to a series of short-answer questions that tapped into applicants’ creativity, practical skills and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, along with updated application evaluation criteria that more fully acknowledged the diversity of experiences that a student may bring to the fellowship. 

Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research and former Knauss Fellow Emily Menashes offered her reflections on the fellowship. “No two Knauss Fellowship placements are the same, as this program is uniquely able to cater to the individual strengths and interests of each fellow. I look forward to learning more about each of the 2023 Knauss finalists.” 

Read more about the Knauss Fellowship and other Finalists.

Jersey Shore Photo Contest 2022 Winners Announced!

July 14th, 2022

The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium held the annual Jersey Shore Photo Contest once again! This year we received many beautiful submissions showcasing the grandeur of the nature and sunsets we witness on the Jersey Shore. 

Twelve submissions won the contest and will be on display in our desktop calendar. The winning photos shown below were shot in familiar locations like Sandy Hook, Bradley Beach, Seaside Heights, and many more. The 2023 desktop calendar with these dazzling nature photos will be available on in a few months. But in the meantime, view the winners below!


Thank you to everyone who submitted and voted! We hope to see you next year!

Ocean City wins New Jersey’s Favorite Beaches Contest

July 8th, 2022

The Favorite Beaches awards ceremony was held at the beautiful Ocean City Music Pier on July 8th. After thousands of votes, the results are in….

Overall First Place: Ocean City
Runner up: The Wildwoods
Monmouth County First Place: Asbury Park
Runner up: Spring Lake
Ocean County First Place: Seaside Heights
Runner up: Point Pleasant Beach
Atlantic County First Place: Brigantine
Runner up: Margate
Cape May County First Place: Ocean City
Runner up: The Wildwoods


The annual public poll began in 2008 to encourage stewardship and pride for the Garden State’s beautiful beaches.  Thank you to all who voted and hope you vote again next year! Be sure to visit all of the beautiful beaches our state has to offer.



CBS Philly: Ocean City Named New Jersey’s Favorite Beach Town For 9th Straight Year In 2022 Poll

OCNJ Daily: Ocean City Tops Statewide Poll for Favorite Beach 

WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM 1450 AM: Locals Say This City Has NJ’s Favorite Beach for the 9th Straight Consecutive Year 


Reminiscing about Ocean Fun Days

June 28th, 2022
It’s officially been over a month since our 19th annual Ocean Fun Days! Check out this video showcasing snapshots of all the activities and excitement that took place at Island Beach State Park and Gateway National Recreation Area Sandy Hook Unit on May 21 and 22!

If you couldn’t make the Ocean Fun Days Event, head to to watch informational videos and access handouts of various fun activities.

The ‘COASTodian’ Newsletter – Spring 2022 Edition

June 20th, 2022

Spring is almost over, but fear not… you can relive it by checking out our Spring 2022 ‘COASTodian’ newsletter. Read all about what we’ve been up to during this season! New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s ‘COASTodian’ newsletter (Spring 2022) is now available online here or by scanning the code below.

Highlights include:

And much more!

NJSGC to Host Professional Development Workshop for Teachers

June 15th, 2022

Building Confidence in Teaching Climate Science in Elementary Classrooms

Are you a K-6th grade educator interested in increasing your confidence in teaching students about climate change? Join New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium this summer to learn more about climate science and effective ways to teach climate change in this one-day workshop at New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s headquarters in Gateway National Recreation Area on Sandy Hook.


Discover ways to effectively communicate the science of climate change and its impacts, all while empowering and giving hope to elementary school students. Enhance your curriculum with new activities and learn how to frame discussions on this sometimes difficult topic. Don’t fret over, but learn how to incorporate New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) for Climate Change Education into lessons you may already be teaching. Earn continuing education credits, too!

Learn to employ successful strategies to help students understand the complex subject of climate change, inspire their curiosity, and motivate them to work towards solutions for the climate-related environmental challenges that they may face in the future. All K-6th grade teachers are welcome to this workshop.

When: Wednesday, August 17, 2022 from 9:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Where: New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium 22 Magruder Road Fort Hancock (Highlands), NJ 07732

Fee: $25 per person, includes lunch

To learn more please visit For questions about the workshop or registration contact

Presenting the 2022 Jersey Shore Photo Contest Finalists! 

June 13th, 2022

NJSGC’s Jersey Shore photo contest featuring all of our state’s beauty, has closed. Of the 78 photos entered, 28 finalists were selected. Thanks to all the amazing photographers who entered. Selecting the top 28 was not easy.

Now it’s time to vote for the 12 that will create our 2023 desktop calendars.


or copy and paste it into your browser

Presenting the 2022 Jersey Shore Photo Contest Finalists! 


NJSGC Favorite Beaches Poll is LIVE for 2022!

June 7th, 2022

The sun is out, the shades are on, and the smell of sunscreen and BBQs is in the air…which can mean only one thing: It’s finally time to cast your vote for New Jersey’s favorite beach!


The fate of our beaches is in your hands.  Choose your favorite local “hotspots” from a list of amazing beaches throughout the Jersey Shore’s four coastal counties – Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean. New Jersey Sea Grant (NJSGC) will announce the winners around the July Fourth holiday. Click here to vote:!

An overall victor is still announced, with Ocean City remaining undefeated champ over the past several years. But will that impressive winning streak end in 2022? Asbury Park has definitely proved a fierce competitor over the past couple years… You decide! Read more from our friend, Nicole Murray from 94.3 “The Point.” She’s not biased about her favorite beach, whatsoever!

Debuting in 2008 as New Jersey’s “Top Ten Beaches,” the survey was initially designed to encourage friendly competition and camaraderie amongst popular Jersey Shore communities along the coast. Following Hurricane Sandy, the contest was rebranded “Favorite Beaches” to diversify results so that ALL areas of the Garden State’s gorgeous oceanfront are recognized, inspiring a refreshing sense of unity and support.

Be sure to share NJSGC’s highly-anticipated “Favorite Beaches” poll with family and friends, and stay tuned for the official results later this summer.

Connect with New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more updates. Thank you for your continued support!

Media Updates: 

Vote Now to Crown the Best Beaches in New Jersey

The Sun and Crowds Came Out for Ocean Fun Days 2022

May 27th, 2022

The warm weather and sunshine was not the only thing New Jerseyans were excited about last weekend, as the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC), in partnership with New Jersey Natural Gas, hosted Ocean Fun Days. On May 21 and 22, children (and children at heart) flocked to Island Beach State Park and Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook Unit to learn about our ocean, environmental science, and energy conservation. 

The 19th annual Ocean Fun Days was back in person after two years of virtual programming. Smiles were contagious during fun events like crab races, seining for marine life, the energy scavenger hunt, guided walking tours, and other enjoyable ways to learn about our coastal environment and ways to protect it. For those unable to attend in person, NJSGC created complete with videos, handouts, activities, and other parent and teacher resources for kids. 

NJSGC Executive Director Dr. Pete Rowe reflects on the day, “New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium was as excited as our attendees to have Ocean Fun Days back in person. I am so proud of our incredible staff and partners for pivoting to virtual programming for the past two years. The sunny summer-like weather made this year’s event even more special. We (staff and attendees) all had big smiles and soaring spirits.”

NJSGC Executive Director Dr. Pete Rowe educates excited attendees about fiddler crabs.

Rosemary Higgins, College & Special Programs Coordinator at NJSGC, who has been coordinating Ocean Fun Days since its humble beginnings in 2003 couldn’t help but exclaim her excitement on this year’s success: “This event is the product of hard work and team collaboration. Our sponsors, along with the over 50 exhibitors at both locations, came together to make this event in its 19th year a big success. The willingness to share knowledge of marine and coastal topics and energy conservation with the public creates a unique free event fun for the whole family just in time for summer. I can’t wait for our big 20th annual Ocean Fun Days next year!”

Rosemary Higgins, College & Special Programs Coordinator at NJSGC teaches girl about seashell morphology. 

“We had a fantastic turnout, and it was great to see so many friends, colleagues and visitors come out to support this event.  The organizations that participated shared so many creative activities for people to learn about ocean sciences, and we hope that visitors left with increased understanding and a sense of caring for marine and coastal environments.” Says Diana Burich, Director of Education at NJSGC.

NJSGC Director of Education Diana Burich (right) poses with participant to show off arms painted with seahorses and starfish.

New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium appreciates all the enthusiasm and bright smiles all our attendees brought with them for Ocean Fun Days. Ocean Fun Days 2022 was one for the books! Did YOU attend Ocean Fun Days this year? If so, they’d love to hear your thoughts! If interested, please take part in the 2022 Ocean Fun Days Survey. NJSGC would like to thank all our sponsors and partners for working together to make this event such a great success. “Sea” you next year!