photo of campus entrance

New Jersey School of Conservation

1 Wapalanne Road
Branchville, New Jersey 07826-5116
800-624-7780 or 973-655-7614
New Jersey School of Conservation Website

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. Since 1972, the NJSOC has been operated for the State of New Jersey by Montclair State University. 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 and family-style dining for up to 200 people.  Meals are prepared on-site by a highly trained kitchen staff and a staff registered nurse handles medical needs. A maintenance department handles major and minor repairs and renovations. A field laboratory, archery range, extensive hiking trails, a renovated cabin built in 1860 and two boat docks with rowboats and canoes 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 40 environmental education programs, delivered by faculty, environmental educators and 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 6,000 elementary/secondary school students and nearly 1,000 teachers. During the summer months, the school offers workshops in Herpetology and Forensic Entomology. In addition, the Music Preparatory Division of the university offers a two week Music-Ecology Camp for gifted young musicians.

Finally, the opportunities for research on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are extraordinary on the NJSOC campus. Scientists from Montclair State as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Penn State and Hofstra are currently involved with research on wood turtles, red-backed salamanders, bobcats, habitat connectivity, native trout and endangered wood rats.