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A Variety of Wildlife, Plants, and Trails Are at the 1,000-Acre Plainsboro Preserve


he Plainsboro Pre serve is a treasure! Located at 80 Scotts Corner Road in Plainsboro, it contains 1,000 acres, which support a diversity of wildlife, and includes one of the largest lakes in the area, along with a variety of hiking trails. Established in 2003, it is a collaboration of Plainsboro Township, Middlesex County, and New Jersey Audubon. Available to the public at no charge, it is open year-round. “We are working on ways to connect people with nature. In some cases, people have lost that connection today,” explains Nancy Fiske, sanctuary director of the preserve. “Our focus is New Jersey birds and animals. As a preserve, we have protected land — that is, protected for wildlife and plant life. lt is designated preserved space. Also, among our diversity of plant life, we have more than 10 species of rare or endangered species, including the majestic southern twayblade orchid.” Protected Land Ms. Fiske adds that in New Jersey 50 percent of the land is protected, including

farmland and open space. In addition to the 55-acre lake, the preserve includes more than five miles of trails, ranging from the wide lakeside trail to wet meadows to forested beech tree trails. The difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate, offering enjoyable hiking experiences for many people. A wonderfully scenic lake and a favorite attraction at the preserve, Lake McCormack dates to the 1960s, when McCormack Sand and Gravel Company began mining on the property. After only a few years, the mining operation hit a spring, and the area began to flood. As the mining program dwindled, water filled what is now the lake. It is home to many species of water fowl, and wading birds, as well as fish, turtles, frogs, beavers, muskrats, and otters. In its 14 years of operation, the preserve has become a popular site for people of all ages to spend time in its splendid natural setting. Individuals and families come to hike the trails, see the birds and animals, and enjoy the Rush Holt Environmental Educational

Center, which contains exhibits, small animals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, a library, and a nature-focused gift shop. School children and Boy and Girl Scouts also visit the preserve to participate in projects, work on badges relating to New Jersey wildlife and natural environments, and enjoy bird watching and other programs. In addition, day camp for children of various ages, starting at 4 years old, is available throughout the summer. Nature camps for 4- and 5-year-olds include stories about a local animal, hands-on activities. short hikes, and a craft. For kids in first through third grade, Terrific Turtles and Toads includes a close-up look at snakes, salamanders, frogs, and fish in their natural habitats. Survival Skills Special mixed-age camps for grades one through six feature a focus each day on different animals that live in the preserve, and explores their habitat and habits: how they live, what they eat, and how they are particularly TAKING A BREAK: These painted turtles are spending a quiet moment at the McCormack Lake in the Plainsboro Preserve, which offers an environmentally-friendly setting on its 1,000 acres for a wide variety of fish, birds, mammals, and plant life. Continued on Next Page

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17 • TOWN TOPICS, PRINCETON, N.J., WEDNESDAY, august 16, 2017

The Windsors & Plainsboro Area Life

TOWN TOPICS, PRINCETON, N.J., WEDNESDAY, august 16, 2017 • 18

The Plainsboro Preserve Continued from Preceding Page

adapted to surviving in their world. For students in grades seven to nine, expanding outdoor skills, building team spirit, and a variety of activities are offered, as well as an overnight at the preserve. Many other weekly nature camps include a variety of choices, from learning how animals use their senses to exploring streams, ponds, and the lake to investigating predators and prey to survival skills. And imagine, head for the woods and learn to tell time, cook food, build homes, and travel the land — all without modern technology. Leave your cell phone behind! Birthday parties for kids typically aged four to 10 are available to New Jersey Audubon members, and are another popular activity at the preserve. Party members can hike the trails and explore the fields to learn about the wildlife, while having fun on scavenger hunts, bird walks, and searching for tadpoles and frogs. Parties are booked for a two-hour period on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. A variety of other programs are set up to intrigue children and adults alike. Family Adventures are designed for beginning naturalists, ages 6 to adults. A sampling of the programs includes Slithering Snakes and Salamanders; From Hummingbirds to Osprey and Heron: Birding the Plainsboro Preserve, Exploring the Habitats (walk through farm fields and forest and lakeside); Secrets of the Forest (explore the preserve’s beech forest); From Ch ipm u n k s to B e aver s : Tracking Our Local Mammals; and many more. “We also have Citizen Science Projects, including feeder watchers,” explains Ms. Fiske. “This is a nice bird study program for parents with their children. They count the different kinds of birds at the feeders, and the information is reported back to the Cornell Institute, which keeps track of the data. In June alone, we counted 62 different species of birds. “New Jersey is one of the top 11 places in the world for bird watching,” she continues. “It is a place to stop for the migratory birds going south in the winter and coming north in the spring. Cape May is one of the most outstanding points for bird watching.” Feathers in Fashion “Our affiliation with New Jersey Audubon is so important,” she adds. “New Jersey Audubon is separate from the National Audubon Society, and it is focused on a sustainable future for open space and protecting migratory birds.” Ms. Fiske shares an interesting highlight about the origin of the Audubon Society, dating to the 1880s, when a number of women in Boston were concerned about the widespread use of bird feathers, especially in women’s hats, for fashion. “They were worried about birds being killed for their feathers to be used for fashion in hats, and they started the Audubon Society in Boston. Then, other states became involved and established their own Audubon

Societies, and many then came together to form the National Audubon Society.” Ms. Fiske, whose career has always been in environmental education, enjoys encouraging visitors to learn how they can help further sustainability in their own garden and home environments. “We’re always involved in educational programs to help achieve a sustainable future.” For example, she points out that many people have been concerned about attracting more butterflies in their gardens, and this can be encouraged by planting milkweed. Butterflies eat milkweed, and much of it has been destroyed by widespread spraying on farms. “Also,” she explains, “it is very good to have native plants in the garden. Those that are indigenous can be healthier and less affected by unpredictable weather, and can better withstand excessive rain or drought.” Native Plants The preserve provides a colorful poster identifying 28 native wildflowers perfect for a New Jersey garden. The Rush Holt Environmental Educational Center with its library of reference books, gift shop, fun “tree house” for children to play in, two classrooms, “under the pond” room, small animal habitat, and exhibits is a wonderful place to visit. Its gift shop, with a wide selection of nature-oriented items for sale, offers choices from bird feeders and houses to raw honey (from the preserve’s own beehives) to candles, housewarming gifts, to a variety of native New Jersey stuffed animals. “Connecting people with nature and stewarding the nature of today for the people of tomorrow” is the mission of New Jersey Audubon and is fully shared by the Plainsboro Preserve, says Ms. Fiske. “We want to protect all the animals — from birds to animals to insects. They all work together for a sustainable future.” The preserve’s trails are open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer, until 6 in the fall, and 5 in the winter. The Rush Holt

Environmental Education Center’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Membership in New Jersey Audubon enables participants to enjoy more of the activities and programs at the preserve, including the day camps, birthday parties, and discounts at the gift shop, as well as for field trips and nature programs. Individual memberships are $30; families, $40. The nonprofit preserve is supported by Plainsboro Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey Audubon, and grants from organizations and individuals. As Ms. Fiske observes, “There is always the challenge of fundraising and getting more people to know about us. We want people to come and see what we have to offer. There is so much to learn about and enjoy here.” Indeed, a v isit to t he preserve is sure to be enter taining, enlightening, and educational. For more i n for m at i on, c a l l ( 609 ) 427-3052. Website: www. —Jean Stratton

FEEDING TIME: This female ruby-throated hummingbird is enjoying a snack from the cardinal flower, one of its favorite floral sources for nourishment. Commonly seen at the Plainsboro Preserve, the ruby-throated hummingbird is one of 150 species of birds that frequent the Preserve.

Where the Community Meets and Eats. Pick up your weekly groceries while strolling our open-air market, featuring live music, 16 local farms and 12 artisan makers, plus knife sharpening. Every Saturday 9am-1pm Rain or shine

Princeton Jct. Train Station Vaughn Drive

West Windsor Community

For more than 16 years, The Dance Corner in West Windsor has celebrated the joy and art of dance. “Our teaching staff influences our students’ futures far beyond our classrooms and public performances,” said co-director Roni Wilityer. “We foster the relationships our dancers build with one another, older students, and our teachers. And while we are building a passion for dance, we are also building self-esteem and confidence in all our dancers. That is our primary objective. Technical excellence contr ibutes to igniting passion, determination, and confidence. We are one of the few schools that offer performance opportunities outside of a recital.” Ms. Wilityer added that t h e y cont i nu ou s ly e n hance their curriculum to appeal to children of all ages, as well as adults. “Our newest pre-dance class, for ages 4-6, focuses on song and dance and offers convenient times for work i ng fa m i l ie s,” she said. “For students 6 and up, we have added a class that improves jump and turn techniques. The aim is to improve a dancer’s strength and skill to cleanly execute multiple turns and jump higher and faster.” Ms. Wilityer said The Dance Corner has also added an adult Cecchetti ballet class on Friday n ig ht s, a long w it h a n adult hip-hop class will be held Sunday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Dance Corner is known for its family-oriented competition teams. “We have added Team Itty Bitties, ages 3 and up; Team Minis, ages 6 and up; and Team Petite Ballet to our strong lineup,” said Ms. Wilityer. Auditions for all our competition teams will be held Sunday, September 10. “We are ver y much a part of our community,” said Ms. Wilityer. “We seek to share our students’ talents and love of dance by performing for free at local fundraising events and numerous shows at the senior centers and nursing homes. Our nonprofit West Windsor Plainsboro Dance Company provides,

through productions, the opportunity for all dancers to perform before public audiences. Students learn to take risks, grow as individuals, work as a group, and achieve their goals.” The Dance Corner’s annual production of The Nutcracker is one of the highlights of its year. Auditions for this year’s production will be held on Saturday, September 16. For more information, visit www.thedancecorner. org, or call ( 609 ) 7999677. ———

West Windsor Community Farmers Market

With 16 farms and 11 artisan food and natural product vendors plus an on-site knife and blade shar pening ser v ice, all from within 50 miles of West Windsor, the West Windsor Community Farmers Market continues its mission to connect farmer to consumer in an openair, positive, and friendly environment. Live music, community groups, cooking demonstrations, special events, and prepared fo o d s to e nj oy on - s ite round out the market experience. The farmers market runs every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Thanksgiving. Since 2004, the focus of the market has been on farmers and vendors who also source from local farms. Saturday mornings are filled with fresh seasonal, locally- grow n fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, past ured meats and poultry, fresh coastal seafood, cheese, milk and farm fresh eggs, woven fiber products, fresh pasta, breads, baked goods (including gluten /grain / refined sugar-free selections ), flowers, bedding plants, honey, prepared foods, soaps, herbs, teas and seasonings, sauces, jams, pickled vegetables, and wine. Breakfast and lunch selections include savory and sweet crepes, locally sourced egg sandwiches, and fresh pressed juice and acai bowls. The Market is located in the Vaughn Drive Parking Lot of the southbound side of the Princeton Junction Train Station, one mile from the Alexander

Road / Route 1 intersection or a half-mile walk down Vaughn Drive from the Dinky. For more information, visit or call (609) 933-4452. ———

Kelsey Theatre

Where do you find the next generation of Broadway stars? Right here in the heart of West Windsor at the Kelsey Theatre, Mercer County Community College! Many actors from the resident companies that call Kelsey Theatre home and students from MCCC’s Academic Theatre company have gone on to Broadway stages. The talented actress Lianah Sta. Ana, who starred in last season’s Miss Saigon, is currently starring in the same show on Broadway. Other Kelsey alumni have been leading performers in Chicago, Mary Poppins, How T he Gr inch Stole Christmas, The King and I, and more. The Kelsey Theatre is home to 12 different resid e nt s e m i - profe s s iona l theater companies : The Kelsey Players, The Yardley Players, The Pennington Players, Playful Theatre Productions, Pierrot Productions, Maurer Productions OnStage, M&M Stage Productions, Theater To G o, PinnWor th Productions, Shakespeare ’70, Forte Productions and Stars in the Park as well as a talented Academic Theatre and Dance student company. Our amazing 2017-2018 season features wellknown musicals and plays — Fiddler on The Roof, White Christmas, Sleuth, and Barefoot in The Park — and some lesser known theatrical gems as well: Memphis, Dogfight, Twentieth Century, Sylvia and the area premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the Walt Disney film. And our highest ticket price is $25! See the whole season at http://www.kelseytheatre. net or call the box office at (609) 570-3333.



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Nov. 3 - 12

Barefoot in The Park

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Sept. 20 - Oct. 1


Oct. 6 - 15

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Oct. 20 - 29

Nov. 17 - Dec. 3

TBA, A Classic Musical Jan. 5 - 21

Ken Ludwig’s Twentieth Century Jan. 26 - Feb. 4


Feb. 9 - 18


Dogfight Moon Over Buffalo

Barefoot in The Park

Irving White Fiddler on Berlin’s The Roof Christmas Mar. 16 - 25

Sept. 8 - 17

ONLINE Memphis Sept. 8 - 17

Sept, 8-17

19 • TOWN TOPICS, PRINCETON, N.J., WEDNESDAY, august 16, 2017

The Dance Corner

Sept. 20 - Oct. 1

Dogfight Sleuth

Nov. 3 - 12 Oct. 6 - 15

- 124 Feb.Nov. 23 - 3Mar.

Nov. 17 - Dec. 3

Spring Awakening A Classic Musical Apr.TBA, 4 - 15

Jan. 5 - 21 Irving Whiteof Notre TheBerlin’s Hunchback Titanic Christmas Sept. 20 - Oct. 1 Dame Twentieth Apr.Ken 20 Ludwig’s - 29 Nov.Oct. 17 -20 Dec. - 293 Century Sleuth Sylvia Jan. 26 - Feb. 4 Oct.Memphis 6 - 15 TBA,Dogfight A Classic Musical MaySpring 11 - 20 Awakening Jan. 5 21 Sept. 8 17 Nov. 3 12 HONK! The Hunchback of Notre Apr. 4 - 15 Ross Glengarry, Feb. 9 Glen - 18 Dame Ken Ludwig’s Twentieth Barefoot in The Park Irving Berlin’s White May 25 Jun. Oct.Sept. 20 - 29 TitanicOver 3Buffalo Century Christmas 20 - Oct. 1 Moon Apr. A20Musical - 29 Jan.Nov. 26 - Feb. 4 3 17 - Dec. Disaster! Feb. 23 - Mar. 4 Sleuth Jun.Sylvia 8 - 17 HONK! Oct. 6 - 15 TBA, A Classic Musical Fiddler on The Roof May 11 - 20 Feb.Jan. 9 - 18 5 - 21 The Mar. Merry Wives 16 - 25 The Hunchback of Notre of Windsor Glen Ross MoonKen Over Buffalo Dame Ludwig’s Twentieth Jun.Glengarry, 22 - 25 Jul.- 1 May Jun. 3 Feb. 23 Mar. 4 Oct. 20 - 29 Century E S A H C R PU S OF Jan. 26 - Feb. 4 Disaster! A Musical A SERIE AND Fiddler on The Roof S W Jun. 8 - 17 Mar. 16 25 O 6 S H P TO HONK! U E V A S Feb. 9 - 18 The Merry Wives 35%. of Windsor Moon Over Buffalo

Barefoot in The Park

Jun. 22 - Jul. 1 Feb. 23 - Mar. 4 Single Tickets: $14-$20 Purchase all 17 shows onlyFiddler $185 Adult, $173 Senior, $159 Student on The Roof Save Mar. 1645%! - 25

TOWN TOPICS, PRINCETON, N.J., WEDNESDAY, august 16, 2017 • 20

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The Windsors & Plainsboro Area Life  

Town Topics Newspaper

The Windsors & Plainsboro Area Life  

Town Topics Newspaper