Restore BHS Nature Trail

July 26, 2013

Exciting News: Franklin R. Myers, esteemed educator and conservationist, was among eleven men and women chosen to be recognized on the “Wall of Honor”at Bernards High School. The induction ceremony was held on May 18, 2014 at the BHS Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Preserve Remaining Parcel of BHS / Olcott Pocket Woodlands:

A Unique Opportunity for our Community 

Did you know that for over 30 years, Bernards High School students, under the visionary leadership of biology teacher Franklin R. Myers, spearheaded a nationally recognized, prestigious, multi-disciplinary nature trail and wildlife sanctuary?

In fact, on May 12, 1949, The Bernardsville News reported that BHS was the “only school in the state to maintain a conservation forest on its campus in which to plant and promote wildlife.”

This six acre woodland was located where the lower athletic field and remaining adjacent pocket woodlands exist today.  The BHS Nature Trail, three-quarters of a mile in length, promoted love for wildlife, conservation and land stewardship, and brought the outdoors into the classroom. 

Begun in 1929, the state-of-the-art, hands-on educational approach was part of the district’s curriculum and actively engaged the students and community.  

In Mr. Myers’ own words “with the cooperation of the Manual Arts class, brush was cleared, wet places made passable, bridges erected over small streams, an entrance built, and plants and other objects labeled with linen tags.”

A fernery was planted around a small spring on the property.  Fifteen species of ferns flourished where only four had originally grown.

At the BHS school nursery, seedlings were germinated by the Botany students and on the trail, 2,000-3,000 were planted. 

So as to involve the community and younger students, an annual nature trail contest was held with awards and a tree sale. 

In 1938, Franklin Myers completed his Master’s thesis at Cornell University entitled, “A Biological Reconnaissance of Somerset County New Jersey.” His work is an exceptional review of our county, and specifically Bernardsville, relative to flora, fauna, reptiles, mammals, fish and amphibians.

Today, as a school district and community recognized for high academic achievement and a Green Ribbon School Program, the last remaining portion of the BHS pocket woodlands—deeded to the school district by the Olcott family in 1905—could once again, with vision, commitment and leadership, become a vibrant and recognized Nature Trail with related multi-disciplinary curriculum.

Doesn’t our town’s rich history deserve to be preserved and celebrated for the benefit of future generations?

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