2022 Workshops


Jeffrey Vassar, Director - NJ Division of Travel & Tourism

Dorothy Guzzo, Director - NJ State Historic Trust

Tom Drake, Publisher - Skylands Magazine

Facilitator: James Kern, Warren County commissioner

Track 1 - Places to Visit


Dr. Michael Horne (Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge)

David Helmer (Morris County Park Commission)

Andrea Proctor (Waterloo Village Historic Site)

Facilitator: John Donahue


Learn from some of the best on what it takes to manage a major national refuge, county park system or state historic site, why these sites successfully draw visitors and hear our panelists share some stories about the places they manage.  

Industrial Archeology as Destinations

Elliot Ruga  (New Jersey Highlands Coalition)

Joe Macasek (Canal Society of New Jersey)


Throughout northwestern New Jersey, hidden in the underbrush of a ubiquitous second growth forest, wrapped in encircling vines and half buried in the forest soils are ruins that reveal evidence of our early entrance to the industrial age. Mines, furnaces and foundries, mills, factories, railroads, a canal, once stood in what are now mature canopied forests. What efforts are now underway in northwestern NJ to unearth the most emblematic of these structures as historic resources, to develop and interpret them to connect us with our industrial past? And how can we leverage these restorations as tourist destinations, to preserve our history and to enhance local economies?

Great Waters of Northwest New Jersey

Panel TBA

Facilitator: Jane Heeckt

Is creation of the Delaware River National Park & Lenape Preserve in the future?

John Donahue


Why is such designation needed?  What form would it take?  What could its impact on Northwest New Jersey look like? 

Track 2 - Things to Do

Hiking and Paddling in Northwest New Jersey

Zachary Cole (New York New Jersey Trail Conference)
Jeremy Travers (PEACE NJ)

Facilitator: Zac Cole


The New Jersey Highlands are a premier destination for outdoor recreation on the water and on

the trail. Join Jeremy Travers and Zachary Cole to learn how and where to enjoy our spectacular

outdoor spaces, the basics of leave no trace and tips on being prepared for your visit the

Highlands. In this workshop we will also explore the relationship between outdoor recreation,

sustainable economic development and conservation using the Highlands Trail as an example.


New Jersey at the Crossroads of Migration

Dale Rosselet (NJ Audubon)

Alexa Fantacone

Facilitator: TBA

Northwest New Jersey is revered for its lush forests, scenic views, and historic places, but one of the
best ways to pass the time in this beautiful region of the state is BIRDING! Join Dale Rosselet, New Jersey
Audubon’s Vice President of Education, birder and nature tour leader to learn about why New Jersey has
so many bird species, participate in a virtual bird trip to several northwestern New Jersey’s premier
birding locations and be introduced to some of the amazing species that you might see throughout the


Photography and Art in the Highlands

Dwight Hiscano (Dwight Hiscano Photography)


Places of beauty, such as Northwest New Jersey, constantly draw in those who need to record that beauty in their photographs or paintings.  Learn more about the endless opportunities offered from two of the best!

Track 3 - Places to Learn

Expanding Access to Nature 
Michael Muckle (NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg)

Renata Barnes (Outdoor Equity Alliance)

Facilitator: Kristine Rogers (MWA)


Participants will learn about Outdoor Equity Alliance’s efforts in Mercer County to inspire people of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and income levels to develop an appreciation and love for the outdoors.  OEA’s work will serve as a case example of the strategies necessary to broaden use of Northwestern NJ’s trails, parks, and preserved open space among a wider constituency of recreational users.  Workshop participants will also hear from NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg’s Director and Delaware River Climate Corps members who will discuss how the organization is helping to expand access to the outdoors through service, learning opportunities and stewardship partnerships with local government agencies and environmental non-profits. 

Northwestern NJ Destinations for Outdoor Learning 

Kyle Richter (Lake Hopatcong Foundation)

Kerry Kirk Pflugh (Friends of the NJ School of Conservation)

Facilitator: Kristine Rogers (MWA)


Learn about two of northwestern New Jersey’s hidden gems for outdoor educational and recreational fun: Lake Hopatcong and the New Jersey School of Conservation in Stokes State Forest.  Presenters from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation will describe programming being offered by staff and trained volunteers that the whole family can participate in.  You’ll leave the workshop wanting to plan your next day trip to northwestern New Jersey! 

Northern NJ Recreational Centers and Camps  

Lauren Theis (Raritan Headwaters Association)

Jessica Shandor (Winter4Kids)

Facilitator: Kristine Rogers (MWA)

Participants will hear from two organizations that are working to provide fun and educational programs for youth and adults alike!  The Director of Education at the Raritan Headwaters Association will speak about the day camp opportunities and educational programming being offered in Bedminster while the Relationship Director at Winter4Kids will provide an overview of the winter and summer camp activities offered at the National Winter Activity Center in Vernon, NJ throughout the year.   

Track 4 - The Business of Tourism and Recreation

Places to Visit and Stay, and How to Invest in and Run Them

Lori Rapisardi

Ricardo Alvarado (Co-owner, Everitt House Bed and Breakfast)


Bustling shops, charming historic districts, and bucolic scenery make Northwestern New Jersey a premier destination for those planning long weekends or attending special events.  Supporting the tourism and local economy of these small towns, bed and breakfasts add a personal and memorable touch to any trip.  But how do entrepreneurs run successful B&Bs?  And how can local Chambers of Commerce or Business Improvement Districts support small business owners?  Learn how towns and business owners can work together to invest in the local hospitality industry and what hurdles these entrepreneurs face.


Angling and Hunting in New Jersey

George Cassa (Co-owner, Shannon’s Fly & Tackle Shop, Califon, New Jersey)

Emily Baldauff (Trout Unlimited)

Facilitator: Ryan Jiorle (Musconetcong Watershed Association)


Angling and hunting mean business in Northwest New Jersey.  What does that look like and what are the opportunities and challenges brought by these activities to the economy of this region? The rivers and streams in the New Jersey Highlands are known for trout fishing.  Throughout the spring and fall, you will not have to look far to find an angler wading in the babbling current of the Musconetcong, Paulins Kill, or Pequest Rivers.  So, why do some still find this sport unattainable for them?  A local business owner shares the non-regulatory influences on freshwater fishing and how structural, cultural, and economic factors shape fishing in New Jersey.


Highlands Region Economic Sustainability Plan

Ben Spinelli (Executive Director, Highlands Council)


Ecotourism and Supporting Local Economies in Northwestern New Jersey

Craig Schlosser (Morris County Economic Development)

Kate Donaldson (Donaldson Farm, Hackettstown)

James on Main, Hackettstown, farm-to-table restaurant


The vast, rolling hills of Northwestern New Jersey provide beautiful backdrops for car trips, hiking, and other outdoor recreation.  Recently, farm and business owners have marketed superior farm-to-table offerings to a new generation looking for sustainable entertainment.  Business owners and the Morris County Economic Development Corporation share the positive impact that the ecotourism industry can help support the local economy.


Non-regulatory Influences on Fresh Water Fishing in NJ

George Cassa (Shannon’s Fly and Tackle Shop)

Emily Baldauff (Trout Unlimited)

Facilitator: Ryan Jiorle (Musconetcong Watershed Association)


Funding Tourism -- Resources for Municipal and County Recreation Projects.

Panel: TBA

Did you know there are several funding sources available to plan, design, permit, and construction recreational projects, like river and lake access points, playgrounds, trails, and bathrooms? You can even fund dam removals to remove obstructions for paddlers. It’s not all about land acquisition. Between the Highlands Council, Green Acres, the federal Land and Water Conservation fund, he Federal Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, and federal transportation funding, projects can be nearly fully funded by grants – if you apply for them.  Hear from a panel of funders about the resources available to counties and municipalities for recreation infrastructure projects.