Barnegat Bay Festival & Guardian of Barnegat Bay Awards

Celebrating 20 Years of the Barnegat Bay Festival

(The Barnegat Bay Festival remains on hiatus.)

Visit BBP & our Partners at these upcoming events in and around your communities:

  • 4/13-Brick Green Fair
  • 4/27- Pt. Pleasant Earth Day
  • 4/27-Cattus Island Nature Festival
  • 5/4- Spring Festival & Dog Expo at Island Beach State Park
  • 5/18- Ocean Fun Day at Island Beach State Park
  • 5/25 -Waretown Founder’s Day
  • 6/15-Conservation Celebration at Island Beach State Park

For 20 years the Barnegat Bay Festival was the Barnegat Bay Partnership’s (BBP) signature outreach event held on the first Sunday in June. A day of family fun reaching out to year-round residents and summer visitors who wanted to learn more about the Barnegat Bay, celebrate its resources, and carry home the importance of the ecosystem.

Every year more and more organizations joined together to focus on the environmentally responsible ways we all can enjoy and protect the Barnegat Bay and its watershed. Each group highlighted the tremendous effort it was making to protect and improve the overall wellness of the Barnegat Bay.

Festival-goers were not only learning about the scientific research, but were also getting to explore life along the Bay, past and present, with interactive exhibits, marine touch tanks, and interpretive presentations.

To its credit, the Festival provided a venue of enlightenment and inspiration to thousands of shore residents and visitors who were looking for ways to personally protect this unique natural resource in their own communities.

The Festival succeeded in ways that we see reflected all around our watershed.  What transpired over those 20 years was a growing environmental synergy that has created additional opportunities for BBP to be more widely engaged throughout the year.

Community Green Teams are growing, Green Fairs  and Earth Day events have multiplied, communities are embracing more green infrastructures like native plant gardens, and towns are celebrating the Barnegat Bay in their annual Seafood Festivals & Founder’s Day observances. We now have, along with our partners, a chance to bring festival highlights to more community based events. So watch for us this spring, summer and fall as we continue to share our educational resources with a wider audience throughout the watershed.

marine touch tank with kids
Kids having fun at the marine touch tank.



The Guardian of Barnegat Bay awards are presented annually to individuals and/or groups making a significant contribution to the protection of the Barnegat Bay. Recipients have been honored in three separate categories: Lifetime Achievement, Community Caretaker, and Government Leading by Example. In 2013, the Pete McLain Young Environmental Steward award was presented for the first time. The awardees are selected by the Partnership’s Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from federal, state, and local government agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations.


2018 “Lifetime Achievement” Award recipients Gef Flimlin (left) and Dr. Ron Baker (right) with BBP Director Dr. Stan Hales

Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Ron Baker

Recently retired, Dr. Ron Baker was a research scientist with the US Geological Survey (USGS) for almost 30 years.  His research helped to quantify nutrient loading from the Barnegat Bay watershed to the estuary, providing valuable data and a scientific foundation for developing plans to protect and restore the bay’s water quality.  His idea to analyze water samples for stable isotope composition contributed to a greater understanding of the potential sources of nitrogen to surface water and groundwater within the watershed.

In addition to his research, Dr. Baker also freely shared his expertise about the bay while serving as a member of the Partnership’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and as a member of the Steering Committee for the development of the Metedeconk River Watershed Protection and Restoration Plan.

Lifetime Achievement: Gef Flimlin

Gef Flimlin, retired Professor and Marine Extension Agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, worked with commercial fisheries in New Jersey for over 33 years.  He helped establish the New Jersey Aquaculture Association and East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and worked tirelessly with commercial fisheries to improve aquaculture in New Jersey.

The innovative program he initiated, the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program (BBSRP), has been hugely successful in educating the public about water quality while engaging volunteers in shellfish restoration efforts throughout the bay. The BBSRP Shellfish Gardeners course and certification program, along with Gef’s motto “The best way to reclaim the bay is to RECLAM the bay,” inspired the founding of ReClam the Bay,  a volunteer organization with a mission to educate about shellfish resources and water quality in the bay.  Another innovative project Mr. Flimlin started, the “Clam Trail,” has been widely recognized and acclaimed as a unique combination of public art and science education.

The “Pete McLain Young Environmental Stewards” award: Lakewood Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) club

The Lakewood Chapter of HOFNOD, lead by Debbie and Mike Bennett (Boating Education and Rescue), has over 30 youth members from the Lakewood community and beyond. The HOFNOD members are consistently cleaning up trash in not only the areas where they fish, but also other areas of the watershed. These young people come from all over the watershed and are often spending time in the most densely populated areas of the watershed. Each of their meetings is centered in a different location to expand their knowledge and their positive impact. Older group members mentor their own younger members about environmental stewardship and responsible fishing, and also share their knowledge with others during public events. They are stewards of the Barnegat Bay watershed, both in freshwater and marine ecosystems, because of their care and vast knowledge.


2017: Christine Raabe, “Lifetime Achievement” and the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) – NOAA Team, “Pete McLain Young Environmental Stewards”

2016: Tom Belton, “Lifetime Achievement” and the Kettle Creek Crusaders, “Pete McLain Young Environmental Stewards”

2015: Robert S. Nicholson, “Lifetime Achievement” and the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) – Project Terrapin Student Group, “Pete McLain Young Environmental Stewards”

2014: Dr. James Merritt, “Lifetime Achievement” and the West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School (WWPN) biology students, “Pete McLain Young Environmental Stewards”

2013: Dr. Roger Locandro, “Lifetime Achievement” and Lindsey Van Zile, “Pete McLain Young Environmental Steward”

2012: David Friedman “Lifetime Achievement”; Potter Creek Crusaders, “Community Caretakers;” and Brick Township MUA, “Government Leading by Example”

2011: NJ Governor Chris Christie

2010: Steve Atzert

2009: Robert Anstett

2008: Dr. Michael Kennish

2007: Terry O’Leary; Dave Friedman/Ocean County Soil Conservation District; and Save Barnegat Bay

2005: Congressman James Saxton; Paul D.(Pete) McLain; and Jan Larson


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