The ecosystem in Union County’s Ash Brook Reservation is a bit healthier today, thanks to students from the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools District, who undertook a conservation project as part of their Sustainable Sciences curriculum.

“The work of these young people is greatly appreciated by the Freeholder Board and the entire Union County family,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh, “The natural habitat in our County parks needs care and attention in order to thrive, and this project is a great example of taking sustainability lessons from the classroom to the community.”

Located by the Vo-Tech Schools campus in Scotch Plains, Ash Brook Reservation is part of the Union County parks system. The conservation project was undertaken as part of County’s Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Trail programs.

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Students from the sustainable science classes of Vo-Tech teachers Jennifer Puglia and Gina Ruggiero worked under the guidance of Parks Department staff and volunteer Trail Steward Marc Grobman to remove invasive plants near a section of trail in the reservation. Invasive species, such barberry and winged euonymus, provide little or no habitat benefit while crowding out valuable native plants.

The project also involved building up the trail and cutting back encroaching vegetation in order to improve access.

“Our system of 36 parks is a beautiful legacy from past generations of Union County residents for all to enjoy, and it is inspiring to see a new generation take on stewardship of this invaluable public resource,” said Jalloh.

 

The School of Sustainable Sciences enables high school students to explore careers in sustainable design, energy and technology, through a curriculum based on project learning and problem solving. More information is available at ucvts.tec.nj.us.

 

Every year the Union County Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Trail programs welcome hundreds of volunteers to help conserve habitat and improve access in County parks. Volunteers can join on an individual basis, as a school or civic group, or as an employer-organized project.

 

For more information about Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Trail, visit online at ucnj.org, email bkelly@ucnj.org or call 908-789-3683.

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