Protecting Our Species

ShopRite supports 27 environmental organizations and hundreds of other community-minded groups.

In the midst of a busy day, it’s easy to overlook the wildlife living near you. As a result, birds, turtles, bees and bats – and their role in the ecosystem – might seem almost invisible.

“But in reality, we depend on wildlife so much,” said David Wheeler, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “One little species makes such a big difference.”

For example, one out of every three bites of food in the Western diet comes as the result of the work of a pollinator, according to Val Dolcini, president and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership.

In addition, bats control mosquitos. Wetlands, home to many species, protect coastal areas from powerful storm waves. Yet many crucial species and their habitats are threatened or endangered.

ShopRite supports 27 local and national environmental organizations and hundreds of other community-minded groups. To help celebrate this year’s national Earth Day theme – Protect Our Species – let’s take a closer look at four of these groups and their work protecting threatened and endangered species.

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey helps preserve rare and imperiled species, including bald eagles. In fact, the foundation’s scientists and volunteers have worked alongside others to revitalize the bald eagle population in New Jersey. ShopRite is helping to fund this worthwhile initiative.

“They’ve gone from just one nesting pair in the state in the early 1980s to more than 200 nesting pairs today,” Wheeler said.

The Pollinator Partnership protects not just bees, but also butterflies, birds, bats, beetles and other pollinators. And without pollinators, many of the items you can find in your neighborhood ShopRite would no longer be available.

Farmers can join the partnership’s bee friendly farming program, which often leads to more productive farmland, according to Dolcini.

“Pollinators are so key in the production of nearly every significant agricultural commodity that it’s really a win-win for the environment, as well as for farmers and ranchers,” Dolcini said.

You don’t have to be a farmer to help pollinators. The partnership offers customized planting guides for anyone who wants to set up a pollinator friendly home garden.

The Wetlands Institute, based in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, promotes stewardship of wetlands. One of the most well-known residents of the nearby marsh is the diamondback terrapin, a turtle that is threatened primarily by loss of habitat, development and traffic. The institute’s efforts to protect the terrapin include building barriers to protect nesting grounds and saving the eggs of females who are hit and killed by cars.

“Those females still have viable eggs in them,” said Lenore Tedesco, executive director of the Wetlands Institute. “Every year, we harvest about 700 to 750 eggs from these females, incubate them and, after a year, release them with a tag attached. They come back seven, eight, nine or 10 years later when they’re mature. When we see them come back and nest here, that’s a special day.”

The institute also hosts an annual Turtle Fest the Saturday of Easter weekend, which includes a pancake breakfast, egg hunt and a chance for visitors to interact with baby and adult terrapins.

The New Jersey Audubon Society helps protect a range of threatened and endangered species, and, as part of its efforts, hosts the annual World Series of Birding, now 36 years old. ShopRite provides food for competitors and helps sponsor the awards.

“It’s the first of its kind in North America and it’s the longest-running birding competition in North America,” said Lillian Armstrong, New Jersey Audubon’s special events director.

Teams have 24 hours to identify by sight or sound as many bird species as possible throughout the state. In the process, they raise money for the society or other New Jersey-based environmental groups. The event starts at 12:01 a.m. and continues until midnight, when teams gather to exchange stories of their adventures. The next morning, teams reconvene for a brunch and awards ceremony.

“There is a lot of camaraderie and all these tired birders are having a good time and saying, ‘I can’t wait to do it all again,’” Armstrong said.

 

How to Help  

ShopRite commends all of the organizations that work hard to protect both our local ecosystems and the threatened and endangered species who call those ecosystems home.

Want to help? To get involved with any of the organizations mentioned in this story, visit their websites at:

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey: http://www.conservewildlifenj.org

The Polinator Partnership: https://pollinator.org

The Wetlands Institute: http://wetlandsinstitute.org

The New Jersey Audubon Society: https://njaudubon.org