Public Info

Union County Celebrates Arbor Day 2023 with Free Trees for Schools

In recognition of Arbor Day 2023, the Union County Board of County Commissioners is once again partnering with the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board to provide free trees for local schools.

image of trees
Flowering Eastern Redbud (courtesy of Rutgers NJAES).

“These trees will stand on school grounds for years to come, as living reminders of the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources,” said Union County Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “We encourage schools to apply for a free tree in celebration of Arbor Day, and provide their students with a wonderful hands-on experience in environmental stewardship.”

“Planting trees is one of the most simple, yet effective ways in which to improve the quality of life in our communities. We hope that participating in this Arbor Day program inspires our youth to continue helping with environmental projects in their communities and beyond,” said Commissioner Lourdes Leon, who is the Commissioner Board Liaison to the Shade Tree Advisory Board.

Studies have shown that trees improve property values and provide many other civic and environmental benefits, such as absorbing airborne pollutants, keeping neighborhoods cool in the summer, preventing soil erosion, and helping to alleviate flooding.

In addition to the tree giveaway, the Commissioner Board also sponsors an annual Arbor Day poetry contest, provides municipalities with tree-for-tree matching grants, and supports the Master Tree Stewards volunteer tree conservation program.

This year’s free Arbor Day tree is a tree native to the northeast, the Flowering Eastern Redbud. They are about five feet tall and weigh about 20 pounds. When fully grown they will be about 15-20 feet tall.

The trees are available to schools on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last.

The deadline for free tree requests is April 1. Schools may contact Madeline Brigantino, Assistant to the Director, Union County Department of Engineering, Public Works and Facilities Management, or 908-789-3653 to request a tree.

For schools that receive a tree, free sessions in tree planting and care are 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 Oak Ridge Park in Clark on Tuesday, April 18 and Wednesday, April 19.

Arbor Day has been a National Observance since 1872, encouraging the public to plant and care for trees.  This year Arbor Day falls on Friday, April 28.

To find out more about the value of trees in urban communities, use the free, user-friendly iTree online tool developed by the U.S. Forestry Service, the Arbor Day Foundation and other partners. Visit for details.

For more information about the 4-H and Master Tree Steward programs, contact Jim Nichnadowicz, Rutgers 4-H agent, 908-654-9854 or No experience is needed to join the Tree Steward program. A training course is held each year, featuring guided walks in area parks and nature preserves.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension is supported in part by the Commissioner Board and is headquartered in the Colleen Frasier Building at the Union County complex in Westfield, at 300 North Avenue East. For information on all Extension programs, including Master Tree Stewards, Master Gardeners, Environmental Stewards, and the 4-H youth development program visit

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities, visit The Green Connection online at

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing and other support services, visit General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at

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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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