Union County celebrates Arbor Day with free trees for schools

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Union County Board of County Commissioners is providing schools with free American flowering dogwood trees in celebration of Arbor Day.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — In recognition of Arbor Day, the Union County Board of County Commissioners is once again providing free trees to schools.

“The tree giveaway has always received an enthusiastic response from schools in Union County. We are very proud to support teachers in their efforts to provide a valuable hands-on learning experience to their students,” said Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski.

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

This year’s free Arbor Day tree, the American flowering dogwood, is native to the Northeast. Each tree is approximately 5 feet tall and weighs 20 pounds, and each comes with a protective cage. When fully grown, the American flowering dogwood is approximately 15-20 feet tall.

The trees are available to schools on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. To reserve a tree for your school, see the mailing that was sent to the school’s principal or contact Madeline Brigantino, Union County Department of Engineering, Public Works and Facilities Management, at mbrigantino@ucnj.org or 908-789-3653.The deadline to request a free tree is Friday, March 26.

Schools may also contact James Nichnadowicz, Union County 4-H agent, at Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, at 908-654-9854, ext. 3, or jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org for more information.

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 offered virtually in early April.

Arbor Day has been a national observance since 1872, encouraging the public to plant and care for trees. This year, it will be celebrated on Friday, April 30.