Tammy Murphy’s interest is in climate change education, and you may choose to use recent events to demonstrate SOC’s relevance. On June 3, 2020, New Jersey announced that it will be the first U.S. state to incorporate climate change education into its K-12 curriculum. Beginning in September 2021, lessons on climate change will be incorporated across seven content areas in all K-12 public schools in NJ. The content areas are 21stCentury Life and Careers, Health and Physical Education, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages.
Here is how that relates to the School of Conservation:
- This means that teachers (and not just science teachers) in 584 New Jersey school districts will need to be trained in how to teach about climate change. This of course plays right into the School of Conservation’s wheelhouse. The School of Conservation was originally founded to be the field campus of New Jersey’s 6 state colleges, all of which were “Normal Schools” with the mission of training high school graduates to become teachers. From 1958 to 1967, all students at New Jersey’s state colleges spent a week at SOC as part of their graduation requirements, learning how to incorporate the out of doors into their teaching. Beginning in 1969, SOC offered Teacher Training Workshops in Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Studies, and Outdoor Pursuits. There is nowhere else in the state better equipped for training New Jersey’s teachers to implement climate education across disciplines.
- In an article about the new climate education initiative (see: https://people.com/human-interest/new-jersey-first-state-climate-change-curriculum), Governor Murphy was quoted as saying:
“By incorporating these standards into the nation’s number one public education system, we are creating a catalyst and knowledge base for new green jobs and teaching our children to become leaders who will propel New Jersey forward to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.” This vision is consistent with NJSOC’s mission to “contribute to the resolution of environmental problems by cultivating environmentally responsible behaviors that will encourage scientists, teachers, students, and citizens to promote sustainable practices in their communities.” Many of you have already written letters crediting SOC with influencing your career choice.
- From the very beginning, the environmental education provided at the School of Conservation has been multidisciplinary. It’s why SOC has served as a model for environmental centers around the world.
- The School of Conservation is part of the New Jersey Weather and Climate Network, a comprehensive information resource for NJ weather and climate monitoring, weather forecasting, and weather/climate-related decision making. Instruments are already in place to provide authentic data for weather and climate education.
Clearly it does not make sense to close the School of Conservation (formerly the New Jersey State School of Conservation) just when it is needed most. Have you attended SOC’s celebrated Teacher Training Workshops? Please share that experience with Mrs. Murphy!