New Jersey Resources marks Earth Day 2023 with $50K donation in support of Lighthouse Center

Financial support will boost center’s plans to expand coastal ecosystem enhancement and research operation

New Jersey Resources marked Earth Day 2023 by announcing a $50,000 donation to the Natural Resource Education Foundation of New Jersey, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the Lighthouse Center and its mission as a community environmental education and research facility.

Originally established as a camp for the blind, the Lighthouse Center site was rescued from development in 2000 and donated to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which in turn leases the property to the NREF, which provides educational programs for children and adults, as well as volunteer opportunities.

The gift, made through NJR’s Coastal Climate Initiative, will support NREF as it expands its programs and operations to include hands-on coastal ecosystem enhancement, preservation and research.

“At the Lighthouse Center, the Natural Resource Education Foundation is making a difference to protect and enhance New Jersey’s precious coastal ecosystem, while educating future generations on the importance of these environmental treasures,” Steve Westhoven, CEO and president of New Jersey Resources, said. “This work aligns with the mission of NJR’s Coastal Climate Initiative, and we are happy to provide this $50,000 donation to support the center in protecting these habitats and making an impact against climate change.”

Located on 200 acres of diverse coastal habitat in Waretown, Ocean County, the Lighthouse Center is home to classrooms, dormitories and research facilities that are used to host educational camps and conferences, as well as natural laboratories for research at the property’s coastal mud flats, saltmarshes and living shoreline that hug the Barnegat Bay.

NREF is expanding its existing education operations to include more direct restoration, preservation and research work at the Lighthouse Center, building upon its May 2022 installation of wave attenuation devices, the first in New Jersey.

Additionally, NJR has selected the Lighthouse Center as the site for its 2023 NJR You Days — an annual, large-scale mobilization of NJR employees providing volunteer work to benefit nonprofits in local communities in its service territory. Over the course of two days in June, 200 employees from across NJR will provide over 1,000 hours of hands-on work to help restore, refurbish and enhance the resiliency of the center’s buildings and facilities — many of which date back to the 1950s — as well as the trails, grounds and other outdoor nature habitats on the center’s property.

“This generous $50,000 donation and large-scale commitment of employee time is a tremendous show of support for our work that will have a significant positive impact at the Lighthouse Center,” Nancy Eriksen, chairman of the Natural Resources Education Foundation of New Jersey’s board of directors, said. “We are thankful to NJR and its employees for their commitment to the community and to the environment.”