July 01, 2022| Education
By: Donna Macalle-Holly
After two years of virtual field trips, due to the pandemic, we were really excited to welcome more than 1,300 students back to Hopatcong State Park this spring for in-person educational field trips. The students hailed from 24 schools from16 towns within Morris, Sussex, Essex, Middlesex, and Warren Counties.
Our educational field trip program focuses on lake ecology and the importance of our water resources through four activities led by Lake Hopatcong Foundation educators and volunteers.
These lessons include:
We would like to thank our exceptional team of more than 50 dedicated educators and volunteers. We would not be able to run this important program without them and we can't thank them enough! We also extend our appreciation to our host, Hopatcong State Park, and the Lake Hopatcong Elks #782, FirstEnergy Foundation, Princeton Hydro, and the James P. Verhalen Family Foundation for their grant support.
As you can imagine, spending 13 full days on the lake with hundreds of students creates some memorable moments. Allow us to share just a few of those moments from our team.
I remember one impressive moment on the Floating Classroom when students were asked if they knew how many miles long Lake Hopatcong is. One student quickly raised his hand and gave the correct answer of nine miles. He was then asked, “How did you know that?” and he responded, “I researched Lake Hopatcong before coming today.” - John Otto, LHF Education Volunteer
As I was walking students from one activity to another as a group leader, one enthusiastic student walked beside me and exclaimed, “This is the best field trip! I’m learning a lot.” To which I replied, “Thank you very much. I’m so glad you’re learning a lot!” - Donna Macalle-Holly, LHF Grants and Program Director
One of my favorite parts was assisting the students with removing their life jackets after their trip on the Floating Classroom. I would often say as I helped them, "I hope you enjoyed the Floating Classroom." Their eyes never failed to light up as they invariably exclaimed, "I LOVED it." - Kris Guiles, LHF Education Volunteer
Our educational field trip and Floating Classroom programs thrive and grow because of all of our dedicated educators and volunteers. Here’s what they have to say about their experience.
“Thank you for letting me be a part of such a worthwhile and satisfying program. It’s so much fun working with the students, my fellow volunteers, and the LHF staff and captains.” - Larry Orlans, LHF Floating Classroom First Mate
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful Education Team. As I always say, it gives me my ‘teacher fix.’ I love working with the children and giving them the hands-on experience of seeing how ‘People Polluters’ can become ‘People Protectors’ of our watersheds and bodies of water, especially Lake Hopatcong. It is always wonderful working with such great people. As I say during our Enviroscape presentation, we are all in this together to protect and preserve Lake Hopatcong for the generations to come.” - Gay Bucci, LHF Educator
“You run an amazing program. I am so impressed with it. The lessons are interesting and so relevant. I learned along with the students. The field trips are managed very professionally, starting on time, with thorough instructions beforehand, during, and after the sessions. The group of volunteers is very welcoming, friendly, and competent. I’m so glad my friend Beth recruited me. I enjoyed it so much, I volunteered again. Thank you!” - Elise Morrison, LHF Education Volunteer
From follow-up surveys, to emails, to letters from the students, we never get tired of getting feedback from our participating schools. Here's just a small sampling of what they have shared with us this year.
“Everything was perfect!!!” – Academy Street School, Dover
“I love this field trip and so do my students! We’ll see you next year!” - Green Hills School, Greendell
“It really was a wonderful day. We truly appreciated all the volunteers and their desire to share their knowledge of our Lake.” - American Christian School, Succasunna
“It was an amazing trip. ALL the students were engaged and learning. All the volunteers teaching the lessons were great and patient. I was so happy with this trip.” - East Dover Elementary, Dover
Loving the floating classroom
Anything you bring into the park needs to go home with you
Kind volunteers teaching us about the watershed
Everyone learning and having fun
Hiking on the path
Outstanding teamwork in every way
Passionate about protecting the lake
All the funny dad jokes
Towns bordering the lake
Collecting specimens and memories
Often avoiding poison ivy
Gallons and gallons of water - Fifth-graders at Frankford Township School, Frankford
“I wanted to pass along a huge thank you for an amazing field trip. Please see the attached thank you note we created as a 4th grade to express our sincerest gratitude for an awesome experience... Overall, it was a great experience for these Kennedy fourth graders. Thank you for all that you do at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.” - Sarah Goodyear, Kennedy Elementary School, Succasunna