The Forest Resource Education Center (FREC) in Jackson provides an opportunity for people of all ages to learn and discover New Jerseys trees and forests. As the only forestry education center in New Jersey, the FREC features unique demonstrations and exhibits such as a sawmill, a maple grove for maple sugaring, bee hives, and a greenhouse growing the trees of tomorrow.
The FREC strives to teach and practice forest stewardship managing New Jersey's forest resources so that we have healthy trees and forests, clean air and water, and places to learn and enjoy the outdoors. FREC has nine miles of trails on 900 acres for recreation such as fishing, horseback riding, and hiking. Some trails feature interpretive signs which identify trees and shrubs or tell the features and local history of the area.
A Brief History
In 1981, the nursery was moved to a property in Jackson. NJ Fish and Game previously used the property as a quail farm where they raised and distributed approximately six million quail. At one time it was the largest quail production farm in the world.
Programs / Education
School groups visit the FREC to experience the forest through fun, hands-on activities and experiential learning. These programs are geared towards PreK to 12th, and include the following topics:
- ABC Arboretum
- Changing Forest
- Fire Ecology
- Forest Discovery
- Forest Products
- Seeds to Trees
- Sensory Awareness
- Swamp Life
- Watershed Investigations
- Wildlife Habitats
The FREC also provides programs for college classes, clubs, and adult groups!
When does the FREC give scout programs?
- Scouts can attend our special events to fulfill badge reqirements.
How far in advance should I book a program?
- Spring and fall programs are popular. Programs for these seasons are often booked a year in advance. Contact the FREC for a list of available dates.
Programs must be:
- Booked in advance
- Scheduled MondayFriday
- Between 9:30am - 2pm
- For groups of 10 or more
On the day of your program, remember:
- Programs are taught outside; dress for the weather.
- You may have lunch after the program, but you must take your trash with you.
- Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes to protect from poison ivy and ticks.
Trail & Path Info
The Forest Resource Education Center pinelands forest provides many recreational opportunities such as:
- Nature Photography
- Horseback Riding
- Bike Trails
The FREC maintains eight miles of trails which feature numerous learning stations with informational kiosks on environmental topics. Some kiosks have "talking trees." At these kiosks, the visitor can push a button and hear more about the featured topic. Bikes and horses are only permitted on sand roads and trails. ATVs are prohibited.
Self Guided Trails
Learn about environmental topics on one the FREC's self-guided trails. The visitor, with the trail booklet as a guide, can stop at stations along the trail to look at features and identify plants and trees.
ABC Arboretum, Sensory Awareness and Forest Discovery trail guide booklets are available at the interpretive center. Use the booklet as a guide while exploring the trail.
Things to See & Do
You will find many fun places to visit and explore all around the properrty, including:
- Sugar Shack (Maple Sugaring)
- Trail along the Toms River
- Nursery fields
- Stocked Trout Fishing in Toms river (spring and fall)
By the Jackson municipal building off of West Veterans Hwy there is a large playground. Surf Taco is a good lunch spot less than ten minutes down the road on Hope Chapel Rd.
Special / Seasonal Events
In addition to the regular Monday-Friday schedule for the interpretive center, the FREC has special events throughout the year, including:
- Full Moon Hike
- Fall Forestry Festvial (yearly on the first Saturday in October)
- Public programs (second Saturday of each month)
- Backyard Forestry in 90 minutes (second Thursday of every Month)
Please visit the calendar on our site, or the FREC site directly for more information.
Picnics / Lunches / Eating
There are various places to have a picnic on the grounds. There are no grills or fires allowed.
Admission & Guidelines
Hours / Season of Operation
Interpretive Center: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Trails: Open every day, dawn - dusk