UNION COUNTY, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds residents of all ages that activities, volunteer opportunities and learning experiences are available from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County through its 4-H Clubs, Master Tree Stewards and Master Gardeners programs.

“Each year the Extension engages hundreds of Union County residents in new experiences and opportunities for personal growth,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “The Freeholder Board is very proud to support their many contributions to our community.”

The Extension programs kick off each fall and coordinate with the school calendar.

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For students in grades 1-12, the Extension offers more than a dozen 4-H clubs covering popular subjects like STEM, Anime/Manga, Archery, Lego Robotics, Sewing, Living History, and Engineering.

In addition, students in grades 1-8 can join a “variety” 4-H club and pursue a topic of their own choosing with guidance from a volunteer club leader.

“From its beginnings as an agricultural youth development program, 4-H has grown to embrace activities that help urban and suburban students build important life skills like teamwork, organization, community outreach and public speaking,” said Bergen.

Union County 4-H also supports the Science Ambassador program, a summertime community service opportunity for college students.

Master Tree Stewards and Master Gardeners are adult volunteers who are trained, certified and guided by Rutgers experts. No previous experience with tree care or gardening is necessary.

Master Tree Stewards spend the fall enjoying guided nature walks with Rutgers experts. They learn about trees and their role in the environment. After receiving certification, each winter the Master Tree Stewards fan out to schools all across Union County to share this important information with hundreds of 4th grade students.

Master Gardeners spend weekly sessions from September to May learning about various aspects of horticulture. The group’s many community service projects include tending the large Demonstration Garden in the County’s Watchung Reservation, community beautification and garden projects, children’s programs, fresh produce for local food pantries, and horticultural therapy.

Applications for both programs are now being accepted.

Students interested in 4-H can sign up for a club by registering for an invitation to attend this year’s annual 4-H Open House, scheduled for Friday, September 23.

To register for the Open House or to request an application for the Master Gardener Program, contact Judi Laganga at the Extension office, 908-654-9854 ext. 2 or email jlaganga@ucnj.org with “Master Gardener” in the subject line.

To obtain a Master Tree Steward application, contact Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz at 908-654-9854 ext.3 or jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org

All three programs are described in the fall/winter edition of the Extension newsletter, County Visions, along with more information about Extension programs in Union County. To view County Visions online visit ucnj.org/rce.

The Extension office is located in Westfield at Union County’s Colleen Frasier Building, 300 North Avenue East.

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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