FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 17, 2022
Contact: Ed Potosnak
Cell: (732) 991-7574
Environmental Advocates Hail Final Passage of Bill to Preserve Renowned New Jersey School of Conservation
Environmental supporters across New Jersey have issued the following statements celebrating final passage of legislation designed to preserve the internationally recognized New Jersey School of Conservation by turning stewardship of the institution over to the non-profit Friends of the School of Conservation.
When the School was threatened with permanent closure in the early days of the COVID pandemic, the friends stepped in and continued to provide critical programming. They’ve worked tirelessly to bring the school back up to a state of good repair and have forged an impressive coalition of stakeholders ready to expand programming and research opportunities, with a special focus on children of color and others who have been traditionally excluded from outdoor education.
“Today marks a banner day in the history of conservation in New Jersey with final passage of a bill that will secure the future of the New Jersey School of Conservation,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The School of Conservation is internationally known as a center for education and research that has helped inspire generations of students to pursue careers in environmental advocacy. This legislation will ensure that the Friends of the School of Conservation remain long-term stewards of this incredible resource, and we want to thank all of the bill’s sponsors for their hard work getting it to Governor Murphy’s desk. We look forward to the governor quickly signing this legislation so the Friends can get to work!”
“We’re thrilled that the School of Conservation will now be in the rightful care of the Friends of the School of Conservation,” said Jennifer Coffey, Executive Director of ANJEC. “The Friends represent generations of those who learn from and are committed to NJSOC. They will ensure that the School remains a place for New Jersey’s diverse population to explore nature and the natural wonder for our shared environment.”
“This is an exciting time for NJSOC,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, and Advisory Board member of the Friends of NJSOC. “The new partnerships in environmental education that NJSOC will be leading, the expanded educational opportunities for children and students of all ages, and the environmental scientific research opportunities that beckon, are limitless. I am thrilled to see this finally come together and salute the leaders of NJSOC for their vision, passion and fearlessness.”
“The Friends of the NJSOC is one of the most passionate, dedicated and mindful organizations that I have worked with,” said Michael Muckle, Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg. “They immediately embraced the idea of engaging with the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg as an essential part of their mission. Our Corps program has its origins in the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 30’s and 40’s — it couldn’t be more fitting to have our Corps members continue that tradition of stewardship, education, and conservation at this former CCC site. We’re excited about the possibilities!.”
“The NJ School of Conservation is an environmental and education oasis tucked into the rolling hills of Stokes State Forest. But its future has been tenuous throughout the pandemic after the school was left in the lurch with the sudden decision by Montclair State to pull funding in the early days of the pandemic. The State Senate vote today is a vote for a future where the New Jersey School of Conservation will be able to expand its vision of serving students and researchers across the state and place the responsibility of the school on its most steadfast champion – the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation. Environment New Jersey thanks the amazing leadership of the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation and the leadership of Sen. Bob Smith and Governor Dick Codey for being prime co-sponsors of this legislation. We urge final support from Gov. Murphy once it reaches his desk to put the Friends of the NJ School of Conversation in the driver’s seat,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey.
“It’s great that the Legislature and the Governor have agreed to ensure the continuation of the historic New Jersey School of Conservation,” said Dennis Toft, Chair of the Environmental Group at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC. “As someone whose interest in the environment was sparked by attending the School as a fifth grader, it is wonderful to see that future generations of students and teachers in New Jersey will have the benefit of learning in this unique facility. Outdoor education and learning to appreciate our natural world are more important than ever. Congratulations to the Friends of the School of Conservation in achieving this milestone for the NJSOC.”
“The New Jersey School of Conservation will re-emerge as the premiere site for environmental education and research in New Jersey,” said Tanya Sulikowski, Director of Education at the New Jersey School of Conservation. “Innovative new field experiences will be accessible to students from around the state to inspire a love of science and appreciation of our environment.”
“This new beginning for the School of Conservation is a boon for Sussex County and the State. Sussex County Community College’s educational and research partnership with the SOC marks a new beginning for us too,” said Dr. Jon H. Connolly, President of Sussex County Community College. “This further illustrates how the NJSOC has always sought how to serve, rather than be served.”
Supporters of the New Jersey School of Conservation look forward to Governor Murphy quickly signing the bill into law and allowing the school to continue its important work.