New Jersey School of Conservation
1 Wapalanne Road
Branchville, New Jersey 07826-5116
Telephone: (800) 624-7780 or (973) 655-7614
Fax: (973) 948-5131
Founded in 1949, the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC) is the oldest and largest university-operated environmental education field center in the nation. It was a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp that was built in the 1930s. The NJSOC has been operated for the State of New Jersey by Montclair State College then University since 1972. Administratively, it is now a division of the College of Science and Mathematics. The New Jersey School of Conservation is located on a 240-acre campus within the 15,000-acre Stokes State Forest in Sussex County just north of Branchville. East of the School is the main ridge of the Kittatinny Mountains, along which stretches the Appalachian Trail. To the West are the Delaware River and the Pocono Mountains. The campus surrounds 12-acre Lake Wapalanne. It has sleeping facilities for up to 280 and family-style dining in two dining halls for up to 310. Meals are prepared on-site by highly-trained kitchen staff. A fully-equipped infirmary staffed by a Registered Nurse who lives on-site handles medical needs. A maintenance department handles major and minor repairs and renovations. Two boat docks with rowboats and canoes, an archery range, extensive hiking trails, a renovated cabin built in 1860, a carriage house built in 1813, an observatory, and a library are special features of the campus.
The programs at the NJSOC are designed to provide students with a greater understanding and appreciation of Earth's life support systems and the impact human actions are having on them. They are also designed to help students gain self-confidence and to develop skills, such as experience working as teams to solve problems through critical thinking, collaboration, and cooperation, that will be needed to solve current environmental problems and to avoid future ones. The 53 environmental education programs, delivered by 3 faculty and 5 graduate teaching assistants, provide field experiences in the environmental sciences, humanities, outdoor pursuits, and the social sciences. Each academic year the NJSOC provides environmental education programs for nearly 9,000 elementary/secondary school students, and nearly1,000 teachers from about 100 schools. The workshops are held in October, February, and May. Each workshop carries one semester hour of undergraduate or graduate credit. During the summer, a 2-week Music-Ecology Camp for gifted young musicians is offered by faculty from the Music Preparatory Division. Also offered is a 6-Day Junior Fly Fishing School for children 12-17 years old.
Due to its remote location and, therefore, absence of light pollution, the NJSOC is a favorite location for many astronomers. Researchers from other institutions, such as Rutgers and Hofstra, have used it as a base station for ecological studies. Opportunities for scientific studies of flora and fauna and both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the NJSOC campus as well as in Stokes State Forest are extraordinary.