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Katie Culbert and Assemblyman Alex Sauickie

Katie Culbert smiles alongside Assemblyman Alex Sauickie, who recently endorsed Culbert's bill to prohibit the planting of non-native and invasive plants.

Nov. 27, 2023-- High School North's Katie Culbert has acquired many titles throughout her academic career at Toms River Regional Schools. She is the National 4-H Pollinator Week Ambassador, a many-time science fair champion, governor's award winner, the NJ 4-H Pollinator Habitat Ambassador and, of course, the New Jersey Honey Queen.

Now, she's hoping to add legislative-bill passer to the list.

"Inspired by my research this summer at MIT on native plants and honey bee forage," Culbert said. "I am hopeful I can garner early support for my 'Bill #A5764: Parks, Plants, and Pollinators' introduced by Assemblyman Alex Sauickie into the NJS Assembly."

According to Culbert, native plants are an inseparable part of the natural beauty of the landscape of New Jersey and must be preserved. The legislation for which she's seeking support is designed to promote the NJ-DEP use of native plants in landscaping, land management, reforestation efforts, and habitat restoration in New Jersey State Parks and Forests by establishing a grant program to prohibit the planting of non-native and invasive plants.

New Jersey’s native plant species provide food, such as nectar, pollen, seeds, foliage, and habitats, including essential shelter and nesting sites for various types of wildlife in the State. With their extensive root systems to control erosion, native plants moderate floods and filter water to improve water quality.

Katie Culbert with NJ assemblyman for bill endorsement

Katie Culbert proudly holds up signed Bill A5764 as Assemblyman Sauickie displays literature that promotes the benefits of native planting.

As well-intentioned as any proposed bill might be, it needs the endorsement of lawmakers to move forward, and that's exactly what Culbert achieved recently when Assemblyman Sauickie signed and advanced A5764.

Culbert clearly made her case, and made it well.

"New Jersey has more than 2,100 native plants species that are well-adapted to NJ soils, temperatures, precipitation levels, and other environmental conditions; thereby, making these plants the best option for conserving and protecting the State’s environment," Culbert said. "Unfortunately, 812 native plants in New Jersey are listed as endangered or species of concern, and 39 percent of native plants in New Jersey are considered rare with 42 species that are considered globally rare.

"It is necessary for our state to encourage the increased cultivation of native plants and to improve public awareness of their importance and benefits."

As the bill reaches the NJS Assembly, Culbert continues to seek support for #A5764: Parks, Plants, and Pollinators. Watch a brief video of Assemblyman Sauickie's endorsement below.

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