Environmental activities in Union County continue this winter

Photo Courtesy of Trailside Nature and Science Center
Timber the Turtle is among the denizens of local fields and forests portrayed in original videos created by the Union County Trailside Nature and Science Center.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Union County residents who are interested in environmental activities and STEM topics can find online programs for all ages to explore this winter, including original videos produced by Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center, a series of online classes leading environmental steward certification and the 4-H Mars Base Camp STEM Challenge for students age 8-14.

Residents and visitors can also explore specially marked trails in and around Union County parks to learn about local history, geology, distinctive trees and other points of interest. For information about COVID-19 guidelines in county parks, visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation.

“While the Trailside Nature and Science Center remains closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are still many ways for residents and visitors to increase their store of knowledge on STEM topics and learn about our natural heritage here in Union County and beyond,” said Union County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Alexander Mirabella.

Residents of all ages who are interested in science and nature can visit the Trailside Nature and Science Center online for curated online and at-home activities and original videos featuring local wildlife at ucnj.org/trailside.

To take a virtual tour of Trailside, visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation/trailside.

Students ages 8-14 can participate in the online Mars Base Camp program, hosted locally by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. Information is available at 4-h.org/parents/4-h-stem-challenge or by contacting Union County 4-H agent James Nichnadowicz at jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

The extension will also offer its environmental steward training course for residents who are interested in developing environmental programs for their community. No background in science is needed. The registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 22, and classes begin on Tuesday, Jan. 26. All classes are online; field trips may be added as conditions permit. For details, visit envirostewards.rutgers.edu or contact Rutgers Region 2 coordinator Michele Bakacs at mbakacs@njaes.rutgers.edu.

Gardeners who are planning ahead for the next planting season can find information on composting, eco-friendly garden and yard care, and related topics at envirostewards.rutgers.edu/Earth-Day.

Union County’s drop-off recycling events are on winter hiatus and will resume as spring approaches. The 2021 schedule for secure paper shredding, scrap metal recycling and household hazardous waste will be posted on the county website at ucnj.org/recycling by the end of January.

To stay up-to-date with all county and local recycling opportunities and regulations, download the free Recycle Coach app for mobile devices.

The Trailside Nature and Science Center is located in Union County’s Watchung Reservation at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Though indoor activities have been suspended during the COVID-19 outbreak, Trailside will host a series of guided nature walks beginning in February. For more information, visit ucnj.org/trailside or call 908-789-3670.

For quick links to all Union County programs and activities related to recycling and the environment, visit the Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.