BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The 27th annual Nature Through a Child's Eye exhibit of Somerset County elementary students' art with an environmental theme, will be on display through Feb. 3 at the Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge, with receptions this weekend for the student artists from 13 schools.

The theme this year is nocturnal animals, said Vanessa Darras, the EEC naturalist who is in charge of the exhibit.

County schools that submitted themed art pieces from kindergarten students through sixth graders included mostly public schools, but also some private institutions, including the Bedwell Elementary School for the Somerset Hills schools district in Bernardsville; The Willow School in Gladstone; Hillside Intermediate school in the Bridgewater-Raritan school district; the Triangle, Hillsborough, and Auten Road Intermediate schools in Hillsborough; the Stony Brook, East End and Somerset schools in North Plainfield, and more.

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Show opened this week, receptions for artists and their families

Admission is free to the exhibit at the EEC building at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.

The show will run daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 3. The EEC will be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, to recognize the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Darras said.

A reception for the students and their families was scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12 and 13, Darras said. The show will remain open to the public during those hours, but the exhibit hall will be crowded, she noted.

Each year, hundreds of pieces of art are created by Somerset County kindergarten through sixth grade students from Somerset County schools. The works communicate their views of nature and the environment though application of textures, shapes and colors, according to the county. Adults and children alike will enjoy exploring the creative minds of Somerset County schoolchildren for each exhibit.

Past projects have included fall leaves printed with tempera, nature landscapes in pastels, and impressions of trees, all of which demonstrate the children's relationship with nature.

Other participating schools include The Lamonte Annex & Lafayette School in Bound Brook, the St. Matthias School in Somerset, the Stony Brook School in Branchburg.

The Environmental Education Center offers a wealth of entertainment opportunities for the entire family including the Environmental Library and Store, trails through the Great Swamp, Maple Sugaring and a full calendar of special events, according to the county.

For information on Nature Through a Child's Eye or other Environmental Education Center activities, call 908-722-1200, ext. 5002, or NJ Relay 711 for individuals with a hearing or speech impairment.

The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center is located within Lord Stirling Park, in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township, and is nestled within 500 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. A swamp vivarium, and an environmentally based library are located within the center itself.

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found online at www.somersetcountyparks.org.