Public Info

A Sustainable Future Begins Here: Join the Environmental Stewards of Union County

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, with support from the Union County Board of County Commissioners, invite residents interested in protecting the environment to join the Rutgers Environmental Stewards of Union County volunteer training program. This program is designed to introduce volunteers to the science behind important environmental issues and the impacts of climate change affecting New Jersey. Stewards then give back to their own communities by helping to tackle local environmental problems.

“Empowering our community to become stewards of our environment is a shared responsibility,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “Each of our mindful actions contributes to a sustainable future, which can help address critical environmental issues and the profound impacts of climate change for future generations. For many years, Union County has been at the forefront of various environmental efforts, covering waste-to-energy, recycling, urban forestry, green purchasing, and LEED construction standards. We are proud to continue our partnership with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, fostering a community dedicated to safeguarding the environment for the well-being of all.”

Environmental Stewards are people who feel a strong sense of responsibility to sustainable society through preserving natural resources. The Rutgers Environmental Stewards of Union County volunteer training program is designed to assist the public in developing skills to design projects that are both effective and impactful. The Environmental Stewards training program involves a set of weekly classes and field trips, followed by an internship project in the spring using the knowledge gained during class.

Classes are held weekly on Tuesdays from 5:30pm-7:30pm, starting on January 23rd and running through May 14th. Most classes are held online, however, some in-person classes will take place based on region for field activities, demonstration, and in-person discussion. Each class is led by a content expert who covers that week’s topic. From 7:30pm – 8:00pm, classes split based on regions to cover local issues and meet with their coordinator for further discussion and activities. After successfully finishing the classes and internship, participants receive certification as Environmental Stewards.

The training program has an early bird rate of $300 through December 31st, and a rate of $325 if registered on or after January 1st. Registration information can be found on Residents must be 16 years of age or older to join, with parental consent and oversight required for those under 18.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County operates as part of the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in collaboration with county governments. This Extension model is a nationwide system overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, aiming to provide university-based information to local communities. The Union County Board of County Commissioners extends support to various programs, including Rutgers Master Gardeners, Tree Stewards, 4-H youth development, and Environmental Stewards. For additional assistance about the Environmental Steward program, contact Michele Bakacs, County Agent and Associate Professor for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County at or 732-398-5274. For more information about Extension programs in Union County, visit