Port Republic’s Jesse Connor has worked as a naturalist, horticultural associate, nursery owner and garden designer.  

But she has never felt such a sense of urgency about the need for more wildlife-friendly yards, filled with native plants.

“There’s been a 40 percent decline in birds since I’ve been a birder,” she said, quoting a statistic in Douglas W. Tallamy’s book “Bringing Nature Home.” That’s in large part due to the loss of native plants and the food and habitat they provide.

“We need to make a paradigm shift in how we think about the landscape,” said Connor, who is starting a South Jersey chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.  

Connor’s husband is Richard Stockton College

of New Jersey professor Jack Connor, author of “Seasons at the Point” about birding in Cape May and “The Complete Birder.” He writes the South Jersey Butterfly B/Log at

Both became avid naturalists while living in Florida in the early 1970s, Jesse Connor said.

Jack Connor and Go Green Galloway co-chair and Clean Communities Director Barbara Fiedler are helping start the chapter.

Jesse Connor, who is also an Atlantic County Master Gardener, has run a native plant sale and swap for five years through the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Galloway Township. She has joined Fiedler to start a series of lectures and workshops on sustainable landscaping in Galloway.

If you go

The first meeting of the South Jersey Chapter

of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 16 in Richard Stockton College Campus Center Conference Room  2. The speaker will be Native Plant Society of New Jersey President Kathleen Salisbury. For more information, email southeast@npsnj.org.

A puzzling development

Andrew Chavez, 12, of Egg Harbor Township, will have something to show in school today when teachers ask how he spent his summer.

He created a sports crossword puzzle, said his father, also Andrew Chavez, a state trooper.

“I saw my grandmother doing a crossword puzzle and I started thinking I should make one,” said the younger Andrew, who will be a seventh-grader at St. Joseph’s Regional School in Somers Point this year, where his mother, Ann, is a preschool aide.

His brother Ryan, 10, a fifth-grader at St. Joseph’s, helped with research.

The hardest question?

“Who was baseball’s first triple crown winner?” Andrew said. That’s the guy who leads the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


Been working with the Press for about 27 years.