We have so much to be proud of in New Jersey, but one of our strongest assets is often overlooked: our incredible diversity of ecosystems. From the Highlands and the Meadowlands in the north to the Pine Barrens and the Delaware Bayshore in the south, New Jersey has protected more than 1 million acres—22 percent of its area—the largest protected space on the Eastern Seaboard. On top of that, almost 800,000 acres are devoted to farming.

These aren’t just important resources from an environmental or educational perspective; research shows that spending time in nature is critical to children’s development and has a positive impact on their mental health into adulthood.

Studies have shown that just five minutes spent in nature can have a powerful positive impact on children’s and adults’ ability to concentrate, mental health and physical health.

Learn more about the power of nature in this month’s cover story, “Students Are Wild About Cumberland,” and make a commitment to getting that boost yourself. Especially consider making the trip to explore Cumberland County, whose biodiversity is considered of global importance. But every county in the state can take pride in a beautiful park, preserve, or geographical wonder.

Whether it’s hiking in the Sourland Mountain Preserve, picking fresh apples and pumpkins from a local farm, hunting for one of the state’s 12 waterfalls, or walking along New Jersey’s 130 miles of shoreline, New Jersey has so much to offer, and autumn is a beautiful time to explore and enjoy our environment.

Re-energize and recharge by exploring some of New Jersey’s wild wonders, and let’s continue to find ways to encourage our students to benefit from all of the beauty that surrounds us.

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