Public Info

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Make a Difference with the Rutgers Environmental Stewards of Union County

Cranford resident and Environmental Steward Don Jones explains how a rain garden works to the public.

Union County residents can make a New Year’s resolution that will have a lasting impact by joining the Rutgers Environmental Stewards of Union County. The all-volunteer Environmental Stewards program helps members of the public learn how to take specific steps leading to improvements in the environmental health of their communities. 

“The Environmental Stewards program equips residents who have a passion and desire to improve the quality of the environment locally, with the knowledge and tools to be effective,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

The Environmental Stewards program is designed to help non-scientists learn more about the science behind the environmental issues impacting their communities.

The Environmental Stewards hold weekly classroom training sessions on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. beginning January 30th through early June. Classes are held at the Extension offices in the Union County complex, located at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Registration for the program ends on January 30th.

The training sessions include classes on habitat conservation, pollinator preservation, climate change and its impacts on the Union County region, protection of the Rahway River watershed, and much more. Field trips are part of the interactive experience.

Participants also work on environmental internship projects of their choice. 

Previous Environmental Stewards have applied their knowledge in Union County with projects such assisting in the effort to combat the destructive Ash borer beetle. The Stewards identified hundreds of Ash trees in County parks, collecting data that will help guide the effort.

Stewards have also created programs in multiple municipalities throughout the County. A program was developed by a steward through the New Providence Recreation Department to help children spend more time in the outdoors and learn how to care for their environment.

The Rutgers Environmental Stewards program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, part of the national Extension system, established more than 100 years ago under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In New Jersey, Rutgers University runs Extension programs in each county through 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 or contact Michele Bakacs, County Agent and Associate Professor for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County at or 732-398-5274.

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection,

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For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

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