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Join the Master Trees Stewards of Union County

Volunteers with the Master Tree Steward program educate students about trees and organize special projects, such as creating “Tree Trails” that enable visitors to identify distinctive trees in Union County parks. Pictured here is a European Beech along a Tree Trail in Echo Lake Park, in Mountainside. Photo credit: County of Union, NJ.

Learn how to help the environment and teach about the importance of trees – no experience necessary.

Union County residents who are looking for a fun and rewarding civic service project can join the 4-H Master Tree Steward program and learn how to “speak for the trees.” Master Tree Stewards are community volunteers who visit 4th-grade classrooms each spring to present an interactive lesson on trees. No experience is needed. All training and classroom materials are provided by the Master Tree Steward program.

Master Tree Stewards can also organize additional projects, such as the educational “Tree Trails” in Union County parks.

“Our Master Tree Stewards provide students with enriching educational experiences and important messages about trees and the environment. It’s a lesson about appreciation and stewardship that young people can carry into adulthood, benefitting our community and the world beyond for years to come,” said Union County Commissioner Chair Rebecca L. Williams.

Each fall, the Master Tree Steward program offers a series of training sessions, consisting mainly of guided walks in nearby parks and nature reserves. Easy reading assignments, indoor classes, a simple project are also part of the program. The entire program, including a tree identification guide, is covered by a $25.00 administrative fee.

Applicants who complete the series obtain a Master Tree Steward certificate and are qualified to teach lessons about trees to 4th grade classrooms in the spring. The program provides a complete lesson plan along with posters, seeds and other supplies.

The 2022 fall training series will meet every Wednesday from September 7 to December 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., except for any holiday that falls on a Wednesday.

The 4th grade classroom visit schedule takes place on Wednesdays from January to June. Certified Master Tree Stewards are requested to choose 4-6 dates for their visits. Each visit takes approximately one hour, typically from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

To apply, fill out the downloadable application form on the Union County website, at ucnj.org/rce. A check for $25.00 should be made out to “Union County 4-H Association.”

Mail the form and check to Union County 4-H Agent James Nichnadowicz, Colleen Fraser Building, 300 North Ave East, Westfield, NJ 07090-1426.

For more information, or to receive an application form by mail, contact James Nichnadowicz at 908-654-9854 (ext.3), or jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

A list of Tree Trails in Union County parks is available here.

The Master Tree Steward program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, as part of a statewide program under the umbrella of the Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station. For information on all Extension programs in Union County, including Master Gardeners, Environmental Stewards and 4-H clubs for youth, visit ucnj.org/rce.

For quick links to all environmental programs and activities in Union County, visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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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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