New Jersey Audubon owes so much to the great group of volunteers that donate their most valuable resource to help make New Jersey a better place for people and wildlife. Over the years, so many have given their time and energy towards stewarding the land, from planting native species, to battling invasive species, even opening their home for others to learn and connect. Today we highlight a few stewardship volunteers from South Jersey that have given so much, donating their talents, energy, and time to conservation.
Kit Marlowe was born in Newark and lived much of his life in South Orange, New Jersey. He earned several college degrees in chemistry and environmental engineering and worked in environmental management, industrial hygiene, and occupational safety throughout his career. In 2015, Kit officially retired and moved from Northern New Jersey to Lower Township, NJ. He spent many summers in Cape May with his family since 1964, but he did not learn about New Jersey Audubon until he began attending the annual Fall Festivals. While attending the many bird walks led by New Jersey Audubon’s staff and volunteers, Kit learned not only about the birds, but also about how many of the forests and fields in Cape May have been impacted by invasive plants.
After he and his wife bought a home in Cape May, he quickly saw firsthand how challenging invasive plant management can be was then that Kit became committed to helping others.e, as much of their property was infested with invasive plants. He and his wife would spend hours upon days beating back the invasive plants, until their patch of paradise began to resemble a healthy forest. It was then when Kit was committed to helping others.
Since 2014, Kit has participated in many New Jersey Audubon led committees and task forces. Whenever New Jersey Audubon would sponsor an event, Kit was there. But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Kit quickly realized the severe impact invasive plants had on nearby Cape May Point State Park. Although park staff and New Jersey Audubon have been working to restore the forest here, he decided to volunteer his time, removing vines from hundreds of trees a day. Kit has always liked trees, so seeing them meet untimely deaths as caused by invasive vines inspired him to act. He knows that his hard work is making a significant contribution to the environment and the quality of life in Cape May. Hours of hard work have also helped him lose 15 pounds since March!
One of his most memorable moments came in 2015, when Kit and his wife opened their home to volunteers who were pulling garlic mustard at Cape May Point State Park. With the help of a local wild foraging company, Meadows + More, Kit and his family prepared a buffet of garlic mustard inspired meals for the volunteers who were hard at work. He has also been heavily involved with outreach surrounding this endeavor, helping to write press releases, and even donating advertising space for the cause. Kit’s volunteer service doesn’t stop here, he was also an active Sunday School teacher, served as Board President for his church, and currently volunteers with the East Lynne Theater Company, Cape Hope, and as a tax preparer with the County’s RSVP Tax Aide Program.
Janet has lived in Bucks county most of her life, teaching Math and Statistics at both the High school and the College level. After retiring 6 years ago, Janet and her husband decided to live in Cape May full-time. Janet first got involved with volunteering with New Jersey Audubon in 2015 when she placed an order for the New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May native plant sale and saw how much work went into running that sale. She then made a fateful decision to inquire if they needed any help and the rest is history.
As a volunteer, Janet has helped with all aspects of the Nature Center’s native plant sale as well as events like the Catch of Cape May and the Fall Monarch Festival. Oftentimes, she would take a shift at the center store, directing visitors and help run daily operations. When she is not volunteering behind the scenes, she is outside in the gardens, where she helps maintain native habitat that is so critical for wildlife.
Janet believes volunteering is important to give back to the community, but she also does it because what she gets in return is invaluable and has made her life fuller. Volunteering has given her the opportunity to learn so much about plants and animals and these learned skills have allowed her to create a spectacular garden in her own backyard that attracts wildlife that she would have never expected to see. Volunteering has also given Janet the opportunity to meet so many different types of people she would not have met through normal circumstances, people who add to the beauty that is the Cape May Community. Overall, the experience has given her a deeper appreciation for the natural world and her place in it.
One of Janet’s most memorable moments was volunteering at the Build-a-Bug station at least year’s Monarch Fest. She helped the Nature Center’s exceptionally creative and talented Teacher Naturalist-Brendan Schaffer build bugs together. Helping excited kids and adults alike was a fun and rewarding experience. In addition to the great volunteering work Janet has done she can also play the Banjo and Dulcimer, two string instruments with a rich country heritage.
Greg De Witt
Greg was born and raised in Haddonfield, New Jersey and after graduating from Stockton University in 2000 (Go Ospreys!), moved to Vermont where he lived for four years before returning to his home state. Greg first volunteered for New Jersey Audubon in 2015 through a trail that was dedicated to his brother, Ryan De Witt. The trail is located at the Cape May Bird Observatory’s Northwood Center. Before the inception of the trail, the backyard of the Northwood Center was densely covered with invasive species, such as English Ivy, Porcelain Berry, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Honeysuckle, to the point that it made the property inaccessible.
Greg spent the bulk of his efforts volunteering at the Northwood Center to help remove invasive species in order to create a trail designed by Josh Nemeth and Dustin Welch of The Wildlife Gardener. After much blood, sweat, and tears, the property at Northwood now contains a beautiful trail surrounded with native plants, shrubs, and trees. The trail has had a positive impact on the wildlife that lives and passes through Cape May Point and attracts a community of people who visit throughout the year to bird, enjoy nature, and learn about the benefits that native plants have on wildlife and the environment.
Greg enjoys volunteering for several reasons but says that the most important reasons is because it is important to give back and help the environment. Ultimately, Greg wants to do his part in helping make New Jersey a better place for people and wildlife. Some of his most memorable moments include seeing volunteers rally and give up weekends to spare time and help create the trail, the new friendships that were gained. Last, but certainly not least, Greg will always remember October 16, 2016, the day the trail was officially dedicated to his brother, Ryan De Witt. Greg is currently taking everything he has learned while volunteering with New Jersey Audubon and applying it to his own property to create suitable habitat for wildlife through native landscaping.
If you would like to learn how you can get involved in aiding stewardship efforts, contact Steven Garcia, Stewardship Technician, [email protected] to join our mailing list for upcoming volunteer days.