This is the fifth of 12 posts in our A Laker’s Dozen: 12 “Sweet” LHF Achievements from 2016 series – reflecting on and celebrating 2016 and the Lake Hopatcong Community.
The Lake as a Classroom
We were excited to expand our educational class trips in 2016 providing lake education (environment, history, and safety) to our local grade schools including Nixon elementary in Landing, St. Therese in Succasunna, Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong, and White Rock Elementary and Arthur Stanlick Elementary in Jefferson. We doubled the number of 4th grade students who participated in the program this year from 250 to 500. During these field trips to Hopatcong State Park, students get an opportunity to go on a boat ride to view the lake geography and discuss how it plays a role in the health of the lake environment, take a hike to learn the importance of trees and forests in lake health, view an Enviroscape model to learn about watersheds, collect macroinvertebrate samples to determine the health of the water downstream of the dam, and receive a guided tour of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum to learn about the lake’s history.
The teachers were impressed by how actively engaged students were throughout the day expressing how important it is for students to make connections between what they are learning in their classrooms to real life, real world experiences. Students begin to see the lake as a vital natural resource. We strive to provide more than just a sense of wonder for the lake and natural world. We facilitate experiences that allow students to understand the relationships between human actions and their effect on the environment. After one of our field trips at Hopatcong State Park, students leave with new knowledge, skills, and values cultivating environmentally responsible behaviors.
Almost 400 volunteer hours were logged in 2016 in order to bring this education opportunity to our local students. Georgia Schilling, who volunteers with her husband Keith on the Education Committee, enjoys watching the students learn about how their actions affect Lake Hopatcong. When asked why she gives of her time for the education program she stated, “Students of today are the adults of tomorrow who will be Lake Hopatcong’s caretakers and I may be able to influence them to be advocates for the Lake!”
We were also pleased to work with Seton Hall GREENIUS students in 2016 to create a new educational handout for the 4th grade students that participate in the Hopatcong State Park field trips.
Academy for Environmental Science Program Partnership
In 2016 we established a partnership and served on the board of the newly established Academy for Environmental Science from the Morris County Vocational School District offered at Jefferson Township High School Academy students will first be mentored by our education volunteers, many of whom are retired teachers. These students will then become the teachers for our education programs.
For the second year, we awarded two $1,000 scholarships through our scholarship program. Our Lake Environment Scholarship was awarded to Ariana Ferraro of Hopatcong, who is studying environmental law and our Lake Experience Scholarship was awarded to Anton Pezzano of Hopatcong, who is studying hospitality management. Each wrote exceptional essays explaining how the lake shaped their interest in their chosen field.
Our scholarship program awards two scholarships of $1,000 each annually to a high school senior who is a resident (year-round or seasonal) of one of the four towns that surround Lake Hopatcong (Hopatcong, Jefferson, Mt. Arlington, or Roxbury) and has been accepted to an accredited college, university, or trade school. Scholarships are awarded in the categories of Lake Environment and Lake Experience.
Applications for our 2017 scholarships will be available on our website in January 2017.
Look for the sixth post in our A Laker’s Dozen: 12 “Sweet” LHF Achievements from 2016 series on the Lake Hopatcong Symposium next week!