Conservation is a collaborate effort.  So, with a property of about 2,725 acres, various outside entities, (i.e. volunteers, Non-government organizations (NGOs), contractors, government agencies or departments, etc.) are essential to MCR staff efforts of managing and maintaining the MCR property. 

This year a new project collaborator, the NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg  was formally brought on by MCR to assist with rare species surveys, trail maintenance and habitat restoration projects.  Created by legislation in 1984 (P.L. 1984, c. 198), New Jersey Youth Corps is designed to assist young adults (ages 16-25) who have left high school prior to completion with the skills needed to obtain a diploma and prepare for employment. The program combines community service “crew-based” projects with academic instruction in a service-learning environment, provides employability and life skills development, personal counseling, and transition services.  The Corps participants also receive additional classroom instruction on developing work skills in ecological restoration projects and environmental science.

I have worked with NJYC of Phillipsburg for over 15 years, and quite frankly I have never seen a better program that engages students with nature and shows them first hand how to be more ecologically minded stewards of the land,”  said John Parke, Environmental Specialist for MCR.  “Their work quality is exceptional, the students are hardworking, focused and dedicated to the tasks at hand, but the most exciting part of having them assist with projects through their service learning curriculum is watching how their sense of wonder and excitement is expressed when they are exposed to the wildlife and habitat at MCR!  There is nothing better to see or hear a student’s excited reaction to something that they have never seen in person or have been exposed to before, whether that be a certain wildlife or plant species, habitat or learning a work skill. The bottom line is that their excitement and expression of emotion to what they are seeing or doing here at MCR is genuine, authentic and that authenticity demonstrates a quality important to the development of their emotional intelligence and leadership skills. ”

Service learning is what makes NJ Youth Corps unique. In an effort to have activities to reinforce the academic lessons learned in the classroom – and to honor NJYC origins from the Civilian Conservation Corps of the ’30s & 40’s – the program engages the Corps members in projects with an environmental theme.  These community-based, environmental projects address unmet needs, develop a sense of personal and civic pride in our Corps members and according to a Rutgers University Study – “lead many Corps members to develop a sense of their own potential for “making a difference” as ecological citizens.” See that study here.

If you encounter NJYC of Phillipsburg at MCR, stop and thank them for their hard work here, show them some encouragement, as they are working with our staff toward a common goal – conservation of New Jersey’s natural resources.  

2023 – NJYC of Phillipsburg students assisting MCR staff with wildlife surveys and learning methods of data collection and survey protocol