Union County residents can learn how to plan and carry out local environmental activities by joining the Rutgers Environmental Stewards of Union County. The all-volunteer program is designed to help non-scientists learn more about the science behind environmental issues impacting their communities

“The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program provides the opportunity for Union County residents to learn effective, fact-based strategies for action,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “The program has already helped make a difference throughout Union County, and we are all looking forward to another successful year.”

In one recent project, volunteer Environmental Stewards identified hundreds of Ash trees in County parks, collecting data that will help guide efforts to prevent the destructive Ash borer beetle from taking hold.

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Environmental Stewards have also created programs in several municipalities, including one program through the New Providence Recreation Department that helps children spend more time outdoors and learn how to care for the environment. 

The Environmental Stewards hold a series of weekly classroom training sessions on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. beginning January 30 through early June. Registration for the series closes on January 30.

Classes are held at the Extension offices in the Union County complex, located at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Field trips are also part of the hands-on experience.

The training sessions include habitat conservation, pollinator preservation, climate change and its impacts on the Union County region, protection of the Rahway River watershed, and much more.

Participants also work on environmental internship projects of their choice. No previous training or experience in environmental work is required.

The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County as part of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

The Freeholder Board supports the Union County Extension with administrative assistance and office space in Westfield, land for the Demonstration Garden in the Watchung Reservation in Mountainside, and funding for special projects.

For more information about the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program, visit envirostewards.rutgers.edu or contact Michele Bakacs, County Agent and Associate Professor for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County at bakacs@njaes.rutgers.edu or 732-398-5274.

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.

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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