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Warren County is offering free environmental education programs for small groups of all ages

WARREN COUNTY, NJ – Warren County is offering free environmental education programming for small groups of all ages. With 10 parks spanning more than 2,300 acres of land, Warren County’s parks provide wonderful opportunities for children and adults to learn about the natural environment.

Using more than 20 miles of marked trails, visitors can explore forests, meadows, wetlands, streams, and even a lake, while learning about the local flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Offered through the Warren County Department of Land Preservation, these free educational programs conducted by county staff are perfect for school, home school, scout, and other groups.

“These new exciting programs will give individuals the opportunity to Explore Warren in new ways!” County Commissioner James R. Kern III said.

“Our county is home to hundreds of different plant and animal species and this will give folks a chance to learn more about them. Between our county staff and volunteer boards, so many work to protect and preserve our great outdoors. Programs like these will hopefully inspire even more of the public to get involved. I hope that people of all ages will take advantage of this unique education and leave with better appreciation of shared environment,” Kern said.

Free programming includes: Magnificent Mammals, Story and Search for Little Ones, Budding Birders, Amazing Adaptations, Tracking with Transmitters, Searching for Seeds, Stream and Pond Ecology, Searching for Salamanders, Seasonal Interpretative Hikes, and more. While programs are offered for all ages, some classes are better suited for different age groups and vary in length. To discover what programs are the best fit, interested participants should visit the County’s website for more information. Classes will be led by Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Community Service Aide with the Land Preservation Department, and must be scheduled in advanced.

“We are fortunate to have a Jennifer on staff here,” said Corey Tierney, Director of the Warren County Land Preservation Department. “Not only is she a local resident who cares about protecting our natural resources, but she brings over 20 years’ experience in environmental education. Thanks to her, we are excited to be able to offer this new educational programming for the community!”

Prior to joining the Land Preservation Department last year, Correa-Kruegel worked as an Environmental Educator and Program Coordinator for Montclair University’s New Jersey School of Conservation. Prior to that, she worked for the Hunterdon County Park Commission as a Park Naturalist. She earned a Bachelors in Environmental Studies as well as a Masters in Parks and Resource Management. A Certified Master Herpetologist, Correa-Kruegel specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians, including researching salamanders, wood turtles, painted turtles, and more.

“A Warren County resident for almost 20 years, I am so grateful for the opportunity to help preserve open space in this amazing area and educate the community about the resources we have here. Warren County is incredibly rich in natural diversity and the value which open spaces have on mental health cannot always be measured,” said Correa-Kruegel, the Community Service Aide. “We saw during the pandemic that people were using our parks more than ever for recreation, but we also need to provide educational opportunities to show people how to respect our environment too. Positive outdoor experiences from a young age can instill an environmental ethic for a lifetime and is the most sustainable form of environmental protection.”

According to the North American Association for Environmental Education and Stanford University, studies show environmental education programs provide a variety of benefits. Not only do participants gain knowledge about the environment, but this can help enhance their critical thinking skills, overall academic performance, and develop personal growth and life-building skills such as confidence, autonomy, and leadership. In addition, a number of studies show that environmental education can increase participants’ civic engagement and positive environmental behaviors, such as reducing water use, increasing recycling, and participating in community cleanups. In various studies, students and teachers also reported that participants enjoyed taking part in environmental education activities, and that the “fun” factor enhanced motivation to learn.

“As kids, I remember we’d spend countless hours outside playing in the woods, in streams, and along the edges of ponds. We’d wander around looking at different rocks, leaves, and other things. We would climb trees and look under rocks. We’d find caterpillars, weird bugs, salamanders, and tadpoles. We’d catch snakes, frogs, and turtles,” Tierney fondly recalled. “We didn’t always know what we found, or the fascinating science behind it all, but that’s what sparked our curiosity to learn more – by just going out there, getting dirty, and exploring. Experiencing the outdoors as a kid really helps connect you with the natural world, and that’s really important. Every child should have that opportunity,” Tierney said.

To learn more or schedule a program, contact Jennifer Correa-Kruegel at the Department of Land Preservation at 908-475-7750 ext. 2.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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