FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kerry Kirk Pflugh, President, Friends of NJSOC | Cell/Text: 908-887-2274
Shayne Russell, Vice President, Friends of NJSOC | 609-654-1410
NJ SOC SENDING OUT AN “SOS”: NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED PILLAR OF OUTDOOR LEARNING ON VERGE OF CLOSING IN STATE FUNDING CRISIS
National Leader in Outdoor Education for 70 years, New Jersey School of Conservation Declared “Endangered Species,” Facing Closure
(Branchville, NJ – May 19, 2020) Officials, educators and scores of alumni of New Jersey’s most revered, hands-on environmental learning center recently received a lightning bolt of devastating news: Montclair State University President Susan Cole declared in a letter to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, that due to its own dramatic budget shortfalls, the University would discontinue funding the beloved New Jersey School of Conservation, which it has operating since 1981. SOC officials and alumni fear the move effectively signals the Schools demise on July 1, 2020.
“There’s no other way to put it, we’re in shock, but we’re also taking steps to save the School,” said Kerry Kirk Pflugh, President, Friends of NJSOC. “We understand the Garden State’s suffering monumentally, physically, economically, educationally and emotionally. By getting a bit more time via a temporary funding ‘bridge,’ we are confident we can identify other sources of investment and operational cost savings. We are working with legislators and the School’s staff to make this happen. We remain committed to maintaining the School of Conservation’s mission to educate, equip and inspire future generations. We’ve already received hundreds of letters from people whose lives have been impacted by SOC over its 71 year history. People are writing to their legislators and to DEP. Teachers who have taken their classes to SOC are incorporating this into their online lessons. Students are writing letters. No one is going to let the School go without a fight. We’re confident that this precious asset – vital to the health and well-being of all New Jersey residents – can and must be saved.”
Set on 240 acres of land in Stokes State Forest in Northwestern Sussex county, the NJSOC has served thousands of researchers, graduate students, environmental educators, and students in a remote, untrammeled woodland setting since 1949. Among other environmental amenities, NJSOC is also serves as the state’s only upland temperate forest research station. The mission of the SOC is to cultivate and encourage responsible environmental stewardship through education, providing the tools to resolve persistent environmental problems and build stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities.
“It’s clear,” said Friends President Pflugh, “In unprecedented times of crisis, affecting even our global climate, New Jersey educators and students need environmental education now more than ever.”
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The Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation strives to connect thousands of “alumni” campers, students, teachers, faculty, and friends whose lives have been touched by the School since 1949. We provide “people power” and financial support for preservation, restoration, and other projects, ensuring the School of Conservation remains a safe, well-maintained destination where New Jersey residents from all walks of life — and international guests —can learn, be inspired and have fun becoming better stewards of our natural world..