The jovial Livingston Park fifth-graders returned once again for an action packed adventure at the New Jersey School of Conservation in Stokes State Forest. The youngsters took to their classes bright-eyed and bushy tailed much like the wildlife shuffling through the forest preparing for the coming of winter. Thanks to the Livingston Park’s coordinator Mrs. Maria Russo and the School of Conservation’s Lisa Mills, the students had a variety of classes ranging from ecological lessons and social sciences to extreme outdoor pursuits like rock climbing to enjoy for the week.
During their stay, the students took part in Pioneer Life, a class that took the students back to the pre-industrial era to learn how American pioneers used natural resources in their daily lives. They explored the old DeGroat cabin, learning about the hard work and daily chores the pioneers had to do every day. The seventh graders had fun splitting wood and cooking cornbread on a wood-burning stove. The class is a true blast from the past as the DeGroat Cabin was originally constructed in 1865 only four miles away from the NJSOC, before it was moved to our campus in the 1970s to be used as an immersive classroom.
The students learned more about local New Jersey wildlife with a fun and engaging Web of Life class, where each took on the role of a different forest organism. The fifth graders learned the core aspects of Stokes State Forest wildlife ecology. First, they participated in a discussion about energy transfer through the trophic levels from producers to top level consumers. These included herbivores, omnivores and predators that reside in Stokes State Forest. Ready for competition, the students were assigned a role in the food web and went outside for an ecological simulation in the form of a game of tag. The goal was to collect all the basic needs for survival and live out the round without being eaten by a predator. The students had a blast running around competing with their classmates like wild animals!
The Livingston students got the full SOC experience with their programming in the sciences and humanities throughout the week, however perhaps most exciting was the opportunity for outdoor pursuits. The 5th graders took on the Climbing Wall which stands tall amongst the trees and was designed to be both physically and mentally challenging. The students worked together in supporting each other on a Belay line as well as cheering them forward up the wall and providing helpful coaching tips along the way. There is no better feeling than ascending the SOC’s climbing wall and throwing your hands up in triumph as your classmates cheer you on from below.
As always, the School of Conservation staff loved having the enthusiastic students, teachers and chaperones from Livingston Park back on the NJSOC campus. We look forward to another great trip next year. What a week!
Written by Chris Shea