May 08, 2020| Education
By: Holly Odgers
This past week, Governor Murphy announced New Jersey schools would remain closed through the end of the school year due to COVID-19. The closure of schools also meant the cancellation of our educational field trips—scheduled for May and June. Yet, just as learning continues with teachers and students online, lessons from our field trips will also continue on a virtual basis.
Introduced in 2015, our annual Lake Hopatcong field trip program launched with 250 students from three schools from around Lake Hopatcong. Over the past five years, the program has enjoyed tremendous growth, with the number of students scheduled for this spring representing a 500 percent increase. Nearly 1,500 students from two dozen schools across five northern New Jersey counties were scheduled to participate.
With hands-on learning aboard the Floating Classroom, macro-invertebrate sampling in the Musconetcong River, a discovery hike through Hopatcong State Park, and an interactive EnviroScape watershed demonstration, our field trips have always presented a well organized and fun-filled day of learning on and around Lake Hopatcong. They've regularly been some of our favorite days of the year!
Though we will definitely miss seeing students learn and explore Lake Hopatcong, we are still very much committed to making sure this year's fourth- and fifth-graders will have an opportunity to benefit from the important lessons typically learned during actual time spent at the lake. To that end, we are thrilled to make available virtual lessons and content, which align with our normal hands-on STEM-based activities, to schools that were scheduled for field trips this spring.
We are heartened that responses to a survey, recently sent to educators at those schools, have indicated that 100 percent want to participate in our field trip program again next year. One teacher even noted she is "bound and determined" to bring the experience to her students. We’re eagerly looking forward to seeing her and all the other participants next spring.