May 27, 2022
TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Thursday passed Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill that appoints new leadership for the nation’s oldest and largest environmental education academic institution.
Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation are appointed principal under Dancer’s Legislation (A3149), taking the reins from Montclair State University, which had operated the New Jersey School of Conservation since 1981. The school is located on 240 acres in the forest of State of Stokes in the County of Sussex.
“The Friends have been an invaluable asset to the running of the school and stepped in when Montclair found it was no longer viable to keep the school open during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dancer (R- Ocean). “The organization has submitted a plan to ensure the functioning of the school. It will be exciting to see what this new chapter brings to the school and the thousands of teachers and students who benefit from it.
The Friends have shifted their focus towards restoration, preservation and advocacy in recent years. With Montclair out, at the height of the pandemic, Friends reopened the school on a limited basis in the summer of 2020 and secured $1 million from the state legislature for repairs to some of the 55 buildings that make up the campus. In partnership with Rutgers University, Ramapo College and Sussex County Community College, the organization plans to modernize and transform the school into a premier training and research facility. Dancer noted that he enjoyed Montclair’s role in the transition.
The Dancer’s Bill requires Friends to submit a financial statement each year to the Department of Education, which would be responsible for funding the school. His plan proposes a budget of $1.72 million by fiscal year 2025.
“The New Jersey School of Conservation has provided valuable environmental education programs for decades,” Dancer added. “My bill will ensure the school continues to provide this for years to come.”
The bill is now heading to the governor’s office for signing.
Located on 240 acres of land in the Stokes State Forest in Sussex County, New Jersey, the Conservation School is our country’s oldest and largest center for environmental education. NJSOC has a long and famous history, beginning in 1949 when officials from the Department of Higher Education, university presidents, Department of Conservation and Economic Development, politicians and conservationists worked together to realize the promise of a world-class outdoor education center at an abandoned CCC camp. He played a key role in the development of the environmental education movement and served as a model for environmental centers around the world. SOC’s residency programs and summer camps have served more than 400,000 students, teachers, master’s and doctoral candidates, professors and visiting professionals from all walks of life through the nearly 40,000 environmental education workshops and programs offered to the SOC over its 71-year history.
Above are photos of past events from the Friends of New Jersey Conservation School Facebook page