Posted Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Float and Learn on Lake Hopatcong Floating Classroom

photo of the Lake Hopatcong floating classroom on the lake

The new floating Lake Hopatcong classroom

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation has announced that its new floating classroom has arrived and will be ready for action in the near future.

photo of Floating classroom being hauled to Lake Hopatcong -- stopping for gas

Floating classroom being hauled to Lake Hopatcong — stopping for gas

The forty-foot, covered catamaran pontoon boat, with seating for 40 passengers plus crew, was launched Wednesday at Hopatcong State Park in the Landing section of Roxbury Township.  The vessel was built by Sightseer Marine based in Hudson, Florida.

“We are so excited to bring the floating classroom experience to Lake Hopatcong for students and the public.  It will provide an interactive, hands-on educational experience to study the lake ecology, to understand why improving water quality is so important and to learn what can be done to protect the lake,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Acting Executive Director Donna Macalle-Holly.

On Wednesday morning, Lake Hopatcong Foundation Chairman Marty Kane briefed the Morris County Board of Freeholders on the classroom’s pending arrival. He said the classroom will kick off with a limited schedule for fourth grade classes in May and June, and would expand to a full schedule starting in the late summer and early fall.

The purchase of the floating classroom was made possible thanks to financial support from the Gannett Foundation/USA TODAY Network’s “A Community Thrives” program, the James P. Verhalen Family Foundation, and the Szigethy Family.

photo of workmen getting the floating classroom ready for the water

Getting the floating classroom ready for the water

Macalle-Holly said she received the news about winning the Gannett Foundation $50,000 grant early on a Saturday morning last spring which set the wheels in motion for foundation to move forward with the acquisition of the vessel.

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation found inspiration for the floating classroom from other on-the-water educational programs.  Foundation staff and volunteers previously visited the Lake George Association Floating Classroom in New York State, the Hackensack Riverkeeper Eco-Cruise, and the SPLASH Steamboat Floating Classroom on the Delaware River.

The Foundation will christen the vessel and reveal its  name at its annual meeting on Friday, May 4, beginning at 6:30 pm at the Garden State Yacht Club. The meeting is open to the public. The public is invited to attend.

Currently, 800 fourth and fifth grade students are scheduled to participate in foundation’s educational field trip program.

photo showing launch of the floating classroom into Lake Hopatcong

Launching the floating classroom into Lake Hopatcong

There is limited availability this May and June for additional schools to participate in this fee-based field trip which includes the floating classroom, macro-invertebrate sampling in the Musconetcong River, a discovery hike and a watershed model to demonstrate water pollution concepts and their prevention.

For more information on the field trips program for fourth and fifth grade students, contact the foundation at 973-663-2500.

The floating classroom will also be open to the public in July and August operating on a limited schedule from Hopatcong State Park.  More details on the public schedule and cost will be announced by the foundation in the coming weeks.

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission of “improving Lake Hopatcong. To learn more, visit www.lakehopatcongfoundation.org.