SANDYSTON – Two New Jersey lawmakers have proposed legislation to provide funding for the New Jersey School of Conservation as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democratic Senator Bob Smith, representing 17th District and Assembly Member John McKeon, D-Morris, sponsored the $ 3 million budget legislation to benefit Stokes State Forest property. The money would help the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation, a nonprofit organization, repair infrastructure and restore the school’s education programs.
The bill “is gaining momentum”, according to the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, with at least eight other lawmakers signing as co-sponsors and others pledging their support for the resolution. The legislature must finalize its budget by June 30.
McKeon called SOC an “educational treasure,” while Smith, a former professor of environmental science, stressed the importance of continuing to support the school and the programs it offers.
âFrom threats to Garden State’s biodiversity to the impacts of climate change, the New Jersey School of Conservation is at the forefront of educating the next generation of environmental leaders and scientists,â Smith said.
The school was on the verge of closing last year when Montclair State University, which had run it since 1981, announced it would return property to the state due to financial hardship due to the pandemic . But in April, the Friends group and the State Department of Environmental Protection finalized an agreement until the end of the year – with the possibility of a long-term agreement – which allowed the school to continue its activities.
SOC was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and was established as an outdoor education field center in 1949. Since then, more than 500,000 people around the world have participated in various educational programs. education and training on the good.
âMany of our state’s environmental leaders, educators, lawyers, engineers and researchers got their start at NJSOC. Passing this resolution will ensure that future generations of environmental leaders have the same opportunity, âsaid Kerry Kirk Pflugh, president of Friends of NJSOC.
Friends of NJSOC share a link on the organization Facebook page ask the public to reach out to lawmakers for further support for the budget resolution. Having almost seen the school close last year, environmental activists are determined to make it a viable source of learning for years to come.
“After all the children of our state have gone through with distance learning, now is not the time to cut back on investments in an institution that teaches students about the environment, gives them access to the outdoors and helps them. to create unforgettable memories, âthe statement said. Lily.