Union County residents looking for a chance to make a real difference can join the Master Tree Stewards of Union County. Members of this all-volunteer group get expert training in topics related to local trees, and they share their knowledge with the community.

No previous training in horticulture or trees is required.

“Our Master Tree Stewards have helped thousands of Union County students and adults learn the importance of trees in our environment. The Freeholder Board is proud to support their efforts, and we value their work now more than ever as we rise to meet the challenges of climate change,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados.

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The cooling effect of trees on urban “heat islands” and neighborhood streets is well documented. Trees also help reduce excess storm runoff and flooding, and they absorb dust and other airborne pollutants.

Along with benefits to the local climate and environment, trees have a positive impact on household energy use, property values, and employee productivity. Trees are also linked to better health and well-being including a reduction in stress, anxiety and even crime.

The Master Tree Stewards are trained and organized by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County and supported by the Freeholder Board, with headquarters at the Union County complex in Westfield. The training consists mainly of guided walks in local nature preserves during the fall season. Volunteers who complete the course earn certification as Master Tree Stewards.

Each spring, the Tree Stewards fan out to classrooms across Union County to conduct lessons on trees for fourth grade students. They are supported by Extension staff and use a fun, interactive lesson kit provided by the Extension.

Tree Stewards have also been installing new tree ID tags along walking paths in Union County parks. The tags provide information of interest to casual park visitors, and they are also used as outdoor teaching tools by educators and youth group leaders.

The next training session begins on Wednesday, September 5. For more information or to sign up, contact Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz at the Extension offices, at 908-654-9854 (ext. 3) by phone or email jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

For more information on all Extension volunteer and youth development programs in Union County, visit online at ucnj.org/rce.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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