New Jersey School of Conservation hosts Flag Raising Ceremony honoring the 90th Anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps
SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ — This Friday, March 31 at 11 AM the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJ SOC) will honor the 90th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), an important New Deal-Era program, with a commemorative flag raising ceremony.
The current location of the NJ SOC is the site for a former CCC group camp that was constructed in Stokes State Forest between 1932 and 1934.
“With today’s flag raising ceremony, the New Jersey School of Conservation is honoring our connections to one of our nation’s most storied conservation programs,” said Kerry Kirk Pflugh, President of the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation, which manages the site. “As we continue our work expanding the School of Conservation’s commitment to environmental education, we are privileged to also have the opportunity to revitalize and preserve a site with such historic significance.”
The CCC was one of the many public works relief programs developed by the Franklin Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression. The program, which operated between 1933 and 1942, employed young men ages 17-28 in jobs related to the conservation and appropriate development of natural resources in rural areas on lands owned by the federal, state and local governments.
Many of the nation’s most famous natural sites, including 711 state parks, as well as Big Bend National Park in Texas and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, owe their existence to the CCC.
In Stokes State Forest, the CCC collaborated with what was then the New Jersey Department of Conservation and Economic Development to establish two “group camps” to help preserve the area, which had originally been donated to the state by Governor Edward Stokes.
The NJ SOC is the product of New Jersey’s commitment to conservation and continues the legacy of the CCC through its programming and education.
Since its founding, the NJ SOC, has served more than 500,000 students, teachers, masters and doctoral candidates, college and university professors, and visiting professionals through its more than 40,000 year-round residential environmental education and summer camps.
It has played a key role in the development of environmental education nationally and has served as a model for environmental centers across the world.
Throughout its 72-year history, the NJ SOC has transformed and evolved to address the changing needs of students and educators, contributing to its success and endurance as an institution of learning, while remaining true to its original approach to instruction and the core values of the CCC.
Since management of the School was turned over to the Friends, a broad-based coalition of educators, alumni and conservationists has worked to build off this proud heritage by expanding educational opportunities to additional students while also working to preserve the historic CCC-era structures — many of which are still in use today.
One of the central tasks the Friends have taken on is to make desperately needed repairs and improvements to the property, which suffered from years of neglect.
These investments are ensuring that the historic structures that remain at the School will remain a resource for students for many more years.
“We hope that today’s flag raising ceremony highlights the critical investments we have made in preserving the heritage of the New Jersey School of Conservation,” said Friends board member Bern Weintraub. “Thanks to a generous appropriation from the State of New Jersey, we have been hard at work addressing decades of deferred maintenance and giving these historic structures a new lease on life. We’re working hard to ensure that students from across New Jersey will be able to learn here for generations to come.”