The Friends of NJSOC is entering into the next phase of saving the School of Conservation with the Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as our partners. We are meeting regularly with NJDEP and together we are learning as much as we can about the physical operation of SOC’s facilities.
At this point, the NJDEP especially needs assistance with monitoring the site and inventorying the buildings. We’re hopeful that some light programming will also be allowed. Next week, we will join NJDEP staff on a field trip to inspect the SOC campus with the former NJSOC maintenance supervisor. This will help begin to define the next steps.
Today we feel a special kinship with the founders of the NJSOC who, back in the late 1940’s, recognized the potential for an outdoor education field center in an abandoned CCC camp. Like the founders, we continue to see great potential for the future of the NJSOC. In so many ways, like them, we are starting from scratch, and will need the help of others who believe in our mission.
We are in the process of forming three committees that will help to guide NJSOC’s future:
- a programming committee to identify programs to continue NJSOC’s legacy of quality environmental programming, while creating and sustaining a revenue stream, and keeping the NJSOC in the public eye.
- a legislation committee to update the existing legislation that established NJSOC as an environmental field center in perpetuity.
- and a fund raising committee to brainstorm a sustainable source of funding including investments by financial groups, membership dues, federal and state grants, foundation support and state appropriation.
Of course, these areas all overlap, but we need to begin the conversations and get into the specifics of each element. The committee work will also help us prepare to respond to a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI), which the NJDEP is required to release as a public agency.
You can help rebuild NJSOC by volunteering to join a committee, sharing your ideas in any of the three areas and, of course, by making sure your Friends of NJSOC membership is up-to-date. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are ready to help. You can join or renew your membership at friendsofnjsoc.org/join. We look forward to your continued support and hopefully very soon, your participation in programs and events at the NJSOC.