Jersey City Joint Activities Return to the NJSOC

The 6th-graders from Jersey City School District brave the great outdoors at Montclair State's environmental field station.

Jamie Hoffman

A group of students discover treasures in the woods during the "Questing" activity.

Jersey City Joint Activities continued their long tradition of field trips to The New Jersey School of Conservation with an exuberant group of six graders ready to embrace the wild and wonderful forests of Sussex County, New Jersey. For this trip, the students participated in Team-building, Questing, Pioneer Life, Stream Geo-Ecology, Conservation Photography, Black Bear Ecology, and Wildlife Challenge.

As is the tradition at the NJSOC, every field trip begins with a challenging activity to build valuable teamwork skills among the students - the Action Socialization Experience. These lessons shape the attitude and motivation that follows the students throughout the week.

The New Jersey School of Conservation is located within the boundaries of Stokes State Forest which is home for many different wildlife animals including red fox, black bear, coyotes, song birds, white-tailed deer, amphibians, and many more! These species were studied by the students on an interpretive adventure called Questing. The students led the excursion through various wildlife trails learning all about New Jersey’s plants and animals and finding valuable treasures along the way. The goal of a questing activity is to reach the final destination, but the fun is had along the trail with many fascinating environmental opportunities to discover.

During the last ice age, 15,000 years ago, the Wisconsin glacier stood a mile thick in this region. The melting of this glacier created ravines, streams, and shaped the surrounding landscapes due to erosion. Stream Geo-ecology took the students through a section of our local watershed that was created after the ice-age. Here the students learned how erosion affects our streams and the importance of keeping our watersheds healthy!

Due to its confined home-range in northern New Jersey, some residents may have never had the opportunity to see a black bear or learn about its natural processes. Education on these majestic animals is crucial for its protection. In our Black Bear Ecology course, students may not be guaranteed to see a black bear, but they will learn all about their management, biology, and see a once-active den!

In Conservation Photography the JCJA sixth graders learned the important role photography played in the conservation movement in this country. The power of conservation photography lies in the capture of breath-taking views of our surrounding natural environment and the plants and animals that live there. During this class the students learned various techniques for taking extraordinary pictures.  They used these techniques to capture beautiful pictures around campus before returning to the classroom to print out their creations to bring home.

At the DeGroat cabin, the students traveled back in time to the late 1860s to experience the physically demanding lifestyle of John DeGroat and his family in Pioneer Life. John DeGroat was a farmer and one of the first settlers in Sussex County, NJ. He was a pioneer and innovator in the lifestyles based around the four basic needs of survival: food, water, shelter, and air. Near the end of the class, the students all participated in making corn-bread with delicious maple-syrup tapped from our local maple trees!

On behalf of all the SOC staff, we would like to thank Ms. Elizabeth Iannetelli for all the hard-work she put into coordinating this trip and we would like to thank all of the students and teachers for making it, once again, a memorable trip.