Help the Friends of NJSOC restore the NJ School of Conservation!
New Jersey has a few special things that set it apart from other states, and one of them is the School of Conservation. Here in the most densely-populated state, we have an institution that sparked the national environmental education movement, served as a model for environmental centers throughout the world, and became a leader in environmental education and field research. Learning about the outdoors at the School of Conservation is part of the collective memory of decades of New Jersey school children, college students, and summer campers.
Since 1949, the School of Conservation has served school groups from every corner of the state. Some districts traveled over 2 hours by bus to bring their students to SOC; some had been doing so for more than 40 years. Why? Because SOC’s philosophy of discovery through field study provides a powerful, memorable learning experience offered nowhere else in our state. And because educating young people to be environmentally-conscious problem solvers benefits us all.
For future students, that opportunity was almost lost on September 1, 2020 when the School closed. Since that time, the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation have been working tirelessly to reopen it. We are excited to announce that we have successfully negotiated an agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to reopen the NJSOC for limited programming in Spring 2021.
When the School closed, New Jersey residents and past participants from around the world spoke out, letting legislators know they were proud of the history and tradition represented by the School of Conservation, and wanted it to continue. Now you have an opportunity to help make that happen.
The Friends of NJSOC will be operating the facility with volunteer staff. We need to purchase program supplies for events, from life jackets and paddles, down to pencils and paper; even tables to work at. Most of the buildings, which date back to their origins as a CCC Camp in the late 1930s, have been unoccupied for nearly a year, and likely need repairs. We need to replace even the most basic tools and equipment—hammers and nails, power tools, and more. All of this, as well as appliances such as refrigerators and microwaves, were removed when the school closed. In addition, NJDEP is currently shouldering the substantial unbudgeted costs of utilities and services for the 57-building facility; we need to help with these costs and obligations as well.
Our goal is for the School to be self-sustaining, but we need your support now to help with the immediate costs of reopening and maintaining the School and to resume the environmental education programming that has influenced generations of New Jersey residents and participants from around the world.
The mission of the School of Conservation is even more relevant today than when it opened 72 years ago. Your donation will help ensure that our fragile environment will be protected tomorrow by students who learned to understand and love the natural world at the School of Conservation today.
Will you invest in the future of the School of Conservation?
Donate and help get the word to as many alumni and friends as possible by sharing our video and GoFundMe links:
Save SOC video: https://youtu.be/-LSZq_u2itY
How to join our fundraising team: https://youtu.be/dKyPs69hrm0
Friends of NJSOC website: http://friendsofnjsoc.org
About the School of Conservation
NJSOC has a long and celebrated history, beginning in 1949 when officials from the Department of Higher Education, college presidents, the Department of Conservation and Economic Development, politicians, and conservationists worked together to realize the promise of a world-class outdoor education center in an abandoned CCC camp. It played a key role in the development of the environmental education movement, and has served as a model for environmental centers throughout the world. The SOC’s resident programs and summer camps have served more than 400,000 students, teachers, masters and doctoral candidates, faculty and visiting professionals from every walk of life through the nearly 40,000 workshops and environmental education programs offered at the SOC over its 71-year history.
In 1981, Governor Brendan Byrne signed legislation designating that the New Jersey School of Conservation shall be used in perpetuity as a school for environmental field study under the direction of the Board of Trustees of Montclair State College. The 1981 law earmarked state funds to annually be granted to Montclair State College expressly to support the operations of NJSOC ... in perpetuity. (N.J.S.A. 18A:64I-1).
In light of First Lady Tammy Murphy’s announcement that NJ will be the first state in the nation to incorporate Climate Change across the K-12 curriculum, the School of Conservation stands poised to deliver the teacher training and support to make New Jersey the nation’s leader in climate change education. This promise will remain unfulfilled unless we, the citizens of New Jersey, take action now.
There has always been something about the School of Conservation that inspires creativity, collaboration, and a special kind of magic that brings people together for the greater good. As former Director Dr. John J. Kirk noted on the School’s 50th anniversary:
“The School of Conservation is more than a unique educational facility, it is more than its fifty-seven buildings, sparkling lake, exciting trout streams, lush forests and rolling hills. The New Jersey School of Conservation is all of these, but much more; for it is a spirit, a dream, and a hope for the future that tends to enrich the lives of all who are privileged to participate in its many varied programs. May it always be thus.”