Public Info

Free Trees for Schools Donated by Union County

Union County, NJ – In celebration of Arbor Day, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again donating free trees to Union County schools along with a free session on tree care. This year’s selection is the Red Bud, a flowering tree that produces brilliant magenta blossoms in the spring. Many schools use their free trees for Arbor Day educational activities.

“Tree care is an important part of a well rounded environmental education for children in Union County,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah P. Scanlon. “As an urban and suburban region, we need a healthy tree population to help reduce air pollution and dust, absorb excess stormwater, and keep our neighborhoods cooler in hot weather.”

The free Red Bud trees are available, one per school on a first come first served basis, while supplies last. Requests must be submitted by April 1. Schools that are interested in obtaining a tree can contact Barbara Knapp, Union County Bureau of Shade Tree and Conservation, 908-789-3653. Parent volunteers who wish to represent their child’s school should contact their child’s principal.

Each Red Bud is 5-6 feet tall and comes with a free protective cage. For schools that receive a tree, free sessions in tree planting and tree care are also available to students, teachers, and parent volunteers through the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Master Tree Steward Program. The tree care sessions will be held at Williams Nursery, 524 Springfield Avenue in Westfield.

In addition to Arbor Day donations, Union County supports local tree planting efforts through the Greening Union County grant program, which provides matching funds for municipal trees. Union County also sponsors an annual Arbor Day poetry contest in support of environmental education and outreach efforts by local school districts.

Union County maintains approximately 15,000 trees alongside county roads, through the Bureau of Shade Tree and Conservation. Under the terms of a Freeholder resolution, when a roadside tree is removed it must be replaced with another. To date, Union County has exceeded this statutory requirement. The Bureau is also responsible for thousands of trees in more than 6,700 acres of county parkland.

“Trees are serious business in Union County,” noted Scanlon. “Aside from being important from an environmental perspective, studies show that trees are a sound investment of public funds. They yield a positive impact on public safety, economic activity, community health, and many other areas.”

The U.S. Forest Service provides free public domain software to calculate the dollar value of trees in an urban community. The latest version, i-Tree v. 4, is user-friendly for individuals, students and community groups as well as professional planners.

Arbor Day has been a national observance since 1872, encouraging the public to plant and care for trees. This year it will be celebrated on Friday, April 29.

To find out more about tree care in Union County, or to volunteer to be a Master Tree Steward, contact James Nichnadowicz, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, 908-654-9854 or


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For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release.   Please join the County of Union online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at