As the school year draws to a close, many parents reach out and thank teachers all across Union County for making a world of difference to their children. In that spirit I'd also like to recognize everyone who works hard to support our educators in the classroom. Whether it's the custodial staff, administrators, substitutes, nurses, or bus drivers, together they play a vital role in the experiences our children have at school.

The work goes on during the summer, too. There are records to organize, grounds to maintain, and for the teachers, there is a continuing process of learning. This summer, a group of educators is taking it to the next level with the Union County "Green Boot Camp."

The camp is a weeklong enrichment program for Union County middle school teachers, funded by a generous grant from Honeywell. They will use the Union County Vo-Tech campus as a hands-on learning laboratory, and come away equipped with the latest tools for teaching green and sustainable concepts in the classroom.

On the nuts and bolts side, the Green Boot Camp fulfills a main goal of this year's Go Green II Freeholder initiative, which is to help prepare Union County's workforce for the growing "green collar" economy. Major employers see the need for more science-based skills in tomorrow's economy, especially in fields like energy efficiency. The Green Boot Camp will help our educators inspire the next generation of engineers, planners, inventors, and technicians.

I expect the Green Boot Camp to have another important effect. It will help teach our youngsters about making responsible choices. Going green means something different for everyone, but it can be summed up as the ability to make more informed choices. It means taking actions that help sustain a healthier environment in our homes, our communities, and the world at large. Our schools are already beginning to take the lead, for example by having the entire school community participate in recycling and waste reduction programs.

As a parent, I've learned so much by listening to my children talk about their day at school, both in and out of the classroom. I hope that this coming fall, when our Green Boot Camp graduates start putting their knowledge to work, their lessons will ripple out to every corner of Union County.