The NJ School of Conservation is in crisis.
For over 70 years, the SOC welcomed students, campers, counselors, teachers, Teaching Fellows, and researchers to its renowned campus. But now the school is closed, the gate is locked, and Montclair State University’s management of the facility ends September 1st. We're facing a perfect storm of challenges: the loss of our long-time partner MSU, a statewide budget crisis, and a global pandemic.
But we have a plan.
The Friends of NJSOC has applied for the SOC's management contract. We need your help to unlock the gate, keep the lights on, and maintain & protect our historic buildings, while we build the financial strength to relaunch the School and the important programs it provides the citizens of New Jersey.
We're asking for your support to save our nation’s oldest environmental education center and continue its mission at a time when we need it most. Our $100,000 fundraising goal represents Phase One of our overall long-term goal of $1,000,000. Reaching this initial goal is critical. This amount is needed to ensure proper maintenance of the SOC campus for the next several months. 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
Your support is critical. The time to act is NOW.
*Regardless of what entity is awarded management rights for the School of Conservation, all of the monies raised by the Friends will be used to support the programs, maintain the facilities and grounds of NJSOC, or otherwise further its mission. We will keep all our donors informed about how the money the Friends has raised is being used.
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 recent 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.”