Public Info

How to Become a Citizen-Scientist in Union County

Union County residents who are interested in making a difference can join the free Rutgers Environmental Stewards program and learn how to create community programs based on the science behind recycling, water conservation, nature conservation, climate change and other key issues.

“The Environmental Stewards program has already made a difference in Union County, and we encourage anyone with an interest in civic engagement to join up,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “No background in science is needed, just a willingness to learn, and to work on solutions to environmental issues in our community.”

This year, the Environmental Stewards program will be held online in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 crisis. Conditions permitting, field sessions may be added in the spring.

Sessions for the five-month program will be held on Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., beginning on January 26 and running until June 1.

Participants will explore environmental issues in New Jersey and learn how to create and implement an effective environmental protection program in their community, guided by experts in the academic, government and non-profit sectors.

Topics include climate change, solid waste and recycling, soil health, energy conservation, water resource protection, land use policy, wildlife ecology and habitat conservation, among others.

Participants who complete an internship of their choosing can also qualify to achieve certification as an official Rutgers Environmental Steward.

The Environmental Stewards program is a statewide program run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension as part of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

For more details and a registration link for the Environmental Stewards program, visit the Extension online at

In Union County, the Freeholder Board supports the Rutgers Cooperative Extension with administrative support and local offices at the Union County Complex at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.

Other popular Extension programs in Union County supported by the Freeholder Board include the Master Tree Stewards and the Master Gardeners community volunteer programs for adults, and the 4-H youth development program for students in grades K-12+.

For more information about all Union County Extension programs for youth and adults visit ucnj.or\g/rce.

For more online educational activities related to nature, science, and the environment, visit Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center at

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection, Please note that in-person activities are limited during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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 General information about COVID-19 and updates on statewide vaccine planning are available through the New Jersey Department of Health at


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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