Union County residents who are interested in environmental activities and STEM topics can find a wide variety of online programs for all ages to explore this winter, including original videos produced by Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center, a series of online classes leading to certification as an Environmental Steward, and the Mars Base Camp program for students age 8-14.

Residents and visitors can also explore specially marked trails in and around Union County parks to learn about local history, geology, distinctive trees and other points of interest. For information about COVID-19 guidelines in County parks visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation.

“While the Trailside Nature and Science Center remains closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are still many ways for residents and vistors to increase their store of knowledge on STEM topics and learn about our natural heritage here in Union County, and beyond,” said Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

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Residents of all ages who are interested in science and nature can visit the Trailside Nature and Science Center online for curated online and at-home activities and original videos featuring local wildlife, at ucnj.org/trailside.

To take a virtual tour of Trailside, visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation/trailside.

Students ages 8-14 can participate in the online 4-H Mars Base Camp STEM Challenge, hosted locally by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. More information is available at 4-h.org/parents/4-h-stem-challenge or contact Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz at jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

The Extension will also offer its Environmental Steward training course for residents who are interested in developing an environmental program for their community. No background in science is needed.

The registration deadline is January 22 and classes begin on January 26. All classes are online and field trips may be added as conditions permit. For details visit envirostewards.rutgers.edu, or contact Rutgers Region 2 coordinator Michele Bakacs at mbakacs@njaes.rutgers.edu.

Gardeners who are planning ahead for the next planting season can find information on composting, eco-friendly garden and yard care, and related topics from the Environmental Stewards “Earth Day Every Day” program at  envirostewards.rutgers.edu/Earth-Day.

Union County’s drop-off recycling events and programs are on winter hiatus and will resume as spring approaches. The 2021 recycling schedule for secure paper shredding, scrap metal recycling and household hazardous waste will be posted on the County website at ucnj.org/recycling by the end of January.

To stay up-to-date with all county and local recycling opportunities and regulations, download the free Recycle Coach app for mobile devices.

The Trailside Nature and Science Center is located in Union County’s Watchung Reservation at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Indoor activities have been suspended during the COVID-19 outbreak but Trailside will host a series of guided nature walks beginning in February. Visit Trailside online at ucnj.org/trailside or call 908-789-3670 for more information.

For quick links to all Union County programs and activities related to recycling and the environment, visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Drive-Through Test Center at Kean University and the Mobile Test Unit walk-up sites, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 and updates on statewide vaccine planning are available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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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