“Bedminster is like a well-oiled machine.” “Their teachers are great and up to speed on everything.” “The students are always fun and eager to learn.” “Their whole experience runs like clockwork.” These are just a few of the positive comments that the educators at the NJ School of Conservation had to share about Bedminster. They were a well-organized group of students and teachers led by the coordinator John Philips. It’s no surprise that bedminster has been coming to the Montclair State University field station for over 20 years!
This year, the students took part a multitude of different classes, starting with a team building activity, the ASE’s. During the ASE’s, or Action Socialization Experiences, the students were challenged to work together in order to solve a common problem: they had to step through the dreaded spider web without ringing the bell that wakes up the spider, or they had to make it across an active volcano without anyone falling in, or they had to transfer a “homework” vaccine to another container without spilling a single drop. During these activities the students learn about critical thinking, effective communication and cooperative problem solving skills.
After the ASE’s, each field group went to a different class designed to help them learn about the importance of our natural resources and the best strategies for conserving these vital resources. In Water Ecology, the students learned about the importance of clean water to our survival and how to assess the water quality of a stream based on its invertebrate inhabitants. Another class, papermaking, demonstrated the difference between different kinds of forest and how the structure and plant species of the forest effects what can survive there.
The students also experienced classes in Beaver Ecology, Survival, and the Climbing Wall, along with evening programs that included a campfire and a dance. The students thoroughly enjoyed each class and activity, and will hopefully implement some of the conservation measures they learned during their stay at Montclair State University’s New Jersey School of Conservation in the heart of Stokes State Forest.