What we know:
The School of Conservation occupies land and facilities owned by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and has been managed by Montclair State University since 1981. Legislation signed by Governor Byrne in 1981 established the School in perpetuity as an environmental field center and assigned its management to Montclair State. The legislation also provided an annual appropriation for the operation of the School.
On May 14, 2020, the President of Montclair State University notified the DEP of the university’s intent to close the School and return the management of the property to the state, effective July 1, 2020. This could potentially result in permanent closure of the School of Conservation.
What the Friends of NJSOC is doing now:
- Friends Officers and advisors, and Senator Oroho, have met with the NJDEP Assistant Commissioner and representatives from Governor Murphy’s office to discuss a proposal by the Friends of NJSOC to provide temporary stewardship of the School of Conservation until a permanent manager is named. The proposal has since been revised and resubmitted.
- An ambitious fundraising campaign has been initiated to provide funding to maintain and protect SOC while the process of identifying a new manager is carried out.
- A social media plan has been devised to raise awareness statewide of the need for support for the School of Conservation.
- Friends officers and Director Bill Thomas have met with legislative leaders in District 24 to brainstorm and discuss plans for saving the SOC.
- A letter writing campaign has been initated asking for letters of support to the Commissioner of the NJDEP, legislators, and NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy. Friends of NJSOC members and program participants, SOC clients, and other conservation and environmental groups have been contacted.
- A press release has been distributed.
- Outreach to our Congressional Delegation has been initiated.
- Outreach to the Department of Environmental Protection leadership in Natural and Historic Resources has been initiated offering information and assistance in finding a new manager for SOC.
- Social media channels are being used for outreach, to request letters of support, and to provide updates and progress reports.
- Periodic Zoom meetings with members and friends are being held to provide updates and answer questions.
- Outreach to other Conservation and Environmental leadership has been initiated asking for help.
What YOU can do:
- Join the Friends of NJSOC.
Friends of NJSOC unites students, teachers, former campers and counselors, staff members, and all the people who love and care about the School of Conservation. We are the clearinghouse for information and are spearheading the effort to save the School. Join us in speaking up for NJSOC!
- Donate to and Share the Save SOC GoFundMe Campaign.
The Friends of NJSOC have submitted a proposal to provide temporary stewardship of the School of Conservation until a new manager is found. In order for this proposal to be accepted, we must be able to prove we have the funding to implement it. Your support is critical. Please donate, share, and/or create your own fundraising campaign in support of this effort.
- Share on social media.
Hundreds of thousands of people have participated in SOC’s educational programs. We need to reach as many of them as possible and ask that they donate, speak up in support of SOC, and help spread the word. Follow and share social media posts from the Friends of NJSOC. Include your own message explaining why SOC matters. Don’t assume your friends will not be interested; if you recruit an additional 2 or 3 people to the cause, our reach will expand exponentially.
- Write a Letter to the Editor and send it to your local newspaper.
- Write letters.
Write to NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy. If you live in New Jersey, please also write to your legislators. If you do not live in New Jersey, please write to Senator Oroho, who represents Sussex County and is helping the Friends of NJSOC in our efforts to save the school.
Sample letters, addresses, and tips for writing your representatives.
- Contact the Friends of NJSOC (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any other ideas or contacts you have that could help.
- Be sure to update your contact information with the Friends of NJSOC so we will be able to reach you quickly when action is needed or new information is available.