Trees are all around us in Union County, and the Master Tree Stewards program lets you find out just how much there is to know about our tall co-habitants while participating in fun community service projects, too. Become a Master Tree Steward this year and immerse yourself in knowledge, tree conservation and community outreach.

“The Master Tree Steward program is available to any Union County resident interested in conserving our trees and passing the conservation message along to young people,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen. “It’s a unique intergenerational community service that promotes respect for our environment and teaches children about the diverse natural wonders on this planet we call home.”

Trees are well-documented for their environmental roles in reducing pollutants, providing habitat for birds and other animals and controlling soil erosion. Trees are linked to cleaner air, and improved public health and safety.

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Each volunteer Master Tree Steward is trained and certified by experts from Rutgers University. The training begins on September 6 and consists mainly of guided walks through local nature preserves, including Cheesequake State Park and Hacklebarney State Park, and a visit to the New Jersey Forestry Service. Classroom exercises supplement the guided walks.

The program’s signature volunteer effort is the countywide “tree blitz” each spring, when the Master Tree Stewards fan out to schools in Union County to provide classrooms lesson on the importance of trees in our environment.

The lesson is based on the popular “Tree Jeopardy” games and other fun activities that help students understand the importance of tree conservation.

No previous experience with trees or classroom instruction is necessary. The Extension provides a lesson kit and other support including classroom training.

Master Tree Stewards also engage in other tree-related community service projects throughout the year.

The Master Tree Stewards is a program of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, supported in part by the Freeholder Board. More information on all Extension programs, including 4-H and Master Gardeners, is available at ucnj.org/rce.

Applications are due by August 31. For an application or more information, contact Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz at the Extension offices in Westfield at 908-654-9854 or email nichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

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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