Annual events at the Environmental Education Center provide the general public with a wide array of fun-filled and educational experiences.
Maple sugaring is a tradition in the Northeast that began centuries ago with the Native Americans and colonists. People of all ages are invited to see this tradition brought to life at the Environmental
Education Center (EEC). You will see how trees are tapped, view sap-collecting methods past and present, and see the boiling process that produces delicious New Jersey maple syrup. This 90-minute program is conducted at our Sugar Shack, a ½-mile hike from the EEC. Please arrive at the EEC 20-30 minutes before the program start time and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Boots are recommended as the trails can be wet, muddy, and/or covered by snow.
Organized groups (such as schools) may schedule weekday demonstrations by calling the EEC at 908 766-2489, ext. 332.
Suggested donation: $1 per person
February 18, 19, 25, 26
March 4, 5, 11, 12
Saturdays - 10:00am, Noon, and 2:00pm
Sundays - Noon and 2:00pm
Project E.A.R.T.H – Swamp Search!
Join us for an exciting scavenger hunt on the Environmental
Education Center trails to learn about the importance of the Great Swamp as an ecological and recreational resource. Learn interesting facts about the Great Swamp and its inhabitants. This event is for friends, families, scouts or other groups to get outside and travel our trails to find answers to our scavenger hunt questions. Then return to the EEC for a program by Rizzo's Reptile Discovery, with live reptiles including a live alligator. This program will educate and entertain visitors of all ages. See the Family Program Series for more information.
This is a rain or shine event – please call the EEC for scavenger hunt status in case of inclement weather. If it is raining on the event day, or has rained significantly the week before, we suggest participants wear waterproof boots/shoes to protect against traversing through puddles and mud on our trails.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Garden Social (All Ages)
Join a Naturalist (and lover of all plants!) for an in-depth tour of the gardens at the Environmental Education Center. Stop in any time between 1:00pm and 3:00pm to experience scent, touch, native, shade and deer resistant gardens all within a stone's throw of each other. Savor intriguing herbal refreshments, win New Jersey native plants, play garden games, and, of course, expand your knowledge of all things botanical. Rain will move event indoors. For additional information or to express interest in attending, please contact Maria Rossi, 908-766-2489 ext. 334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, June 11
The County Caper
The County Caper is a one day game that takes families and friends on an interactive tour of Somerset County parks and facilities. It is designed to encourage everyone to explore, learn, and protect our parks and other natural areas. Sunday, August 21, 2016 is the date to remember for this special event open to everyone with a yearning to discover all Somerset County has to offer. Pre-registration is required and ends at 4:30pm on August 16.
$20 per team
Sunday, August 20
The County Caper Accelerated!
The County Caper Accelerated! is a one day game that takes adults (15 years and older) on an interactive tour of Somerset County parks and facilities. Challenge your mental and physical capabilities while completing fun tasks throughout the day as your team races against the clock. Saturday, August 20, 2016 kicks off this exciting event for those who crave adventure in their own backyard. Pre-registration is required and ends at noon on August 19.
$20 per team
Saturday, August 19
The Lord Stirling 1770s Festival
Return to the past and experience daily Colonial life and craft industry at the annual Lord Stirling 1770s Festival. Colonial craftspeople ply their trades while a Town Crier announces the local news. A Revolutionary War military detachment camps on the former estate lawn of Lord Stirling and conducts maneuvers. Stroll the grounds of "The Buildings" and tour Lord Stirling's personal 1762 wine cellar. The Lord Stirling 1770s Festival also features displays of authentic artifacts discovered on site by our archeological field project. Children of all ages enjoy the hayrides, clay crafts, stenciling, tin piercing, and Colonial games. Experience what life was like here in the fall of 1770 and learn about our local Revolutionary War hero, Lord Stirling. Craft sales are prohibited to ensure an enjoyable and educational living history event.
Suggested donation: $5 per person
Sunday, October 1, 2017
"Halloween Happenings at the
Environmental Education Center"
By the Light of the Moon
Listen for animal sounds. Make sparks fly. Hone your night vision and more as you traverse the swampy trails with a Naturalist beneath the stars. Indoor activities may include live critters, face painting, and more! Light refreshments will be included. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required. We recommend wearing your boots and leaving your stroller at home due to wet, dark, and uneven terrain. Program time includes a one hour walk plus indoor activities and refreshments.
$6 per person
Friday, October 13 (Rain Date: Saturday, October 14)
Live Animal Show
Join us for a wild afternoon of fun! Eyes of the Wild will be presenting a live animal show where you will meet some of nature's coolest creatures. Pre-registration not required.
Suggested donation: $5 per person
Sunday, October 15
40th Annual Festival of Trees
December is the time to visit the Environmental Education Center and get into the holiday spirit. The Festival of Trees is an indoor exhibit of decorated trees by various community groups and individuals. Come and enjoy live holiday music on select Saturdays and Sundays. Snowflake Café on all Saturdays and Sundays. Daily hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm.
Environmental Education Center, Basking Ridge
December 1 - 23, 2017
Suggested donation: $5 per person
(closed December 23-26 in observance of the Christmas holiday)
9:00am – 4:00pm
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Family Program Series
Exploring New Jersey's Climate Variability and Change
New Jersey's State Climatologist, Dr. David Robinson, presents data and his scientific interpretation of trends in our state's weather. New Jersey has recently experienced some of its wettest and warmest years in 120 years of observations, along with a number of extreme weather events. New Jersey's weather follows a global pattern attributed to significant human influences that are amplifying natural climate variations. Dr. Robinson discusses our current climate, including what may lie ahead to challenge NJ residents from the Highlands to the Great Swamp to the Shore.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Pollinators in Peril - Natives to the Rescue!
John Black, President of the New Jersey Native Plant Society will discuss the connection between pollinators and plants. John will explain what it means to be a "pollinator". Find out why some native plants are more important to our gorgeous butterflies and moths, and how you can help to increase their numbers while attracting them to your garden. Learn which pollinators perform better than honey bees and why. Our pollinators are in peril and you can help them by choosing the right plants!
$7 per person/$6 per senior
Course Code: 51795
EEC-01 Saturday, April 1, 2017
As the grand finale to our "Project E.A.R.T.H. – Swamp Search!" join us for a Reptile program with live reptiles from Rizzo's Reptile Discovery. Dominick Rizzo will educate and entertain with a wide array of reptiles and a live alligator. This program is sure to enthrall all ages. See more information about our Project E.A.R.T.H. – Swamp Search in the special Events section. This program will be held inside rain or shine.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
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Nature Through a Child's Eye
This annual children's environmental art exhibit features Somerset County kindergartners through sixth graders who have expressed their love of our natural world, our environment, and our Earth through their artwork.
Saturday, January 9 through Sunday, February 7, 2017
9:00am-4:30pm except Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Invaders: Invasive Plants and Insects
What are invasive species, and how do they affect the ecosystem? In this exhibition Ridge High School art students researched and examined how an invasive species can significantly harm ecosystems. These projects allowed students to research and explore invasive species and then create new artwork based on their findings. The exhibition will feature drawings, alongside inventive "Artist Books" and board games. This new body of work explores the introduction, ecology and environmental impact of invasive plants on our delicate ecosystems. The ethereal nature of the drawings created from invasive plant specimens evokes the element of time and a potential future where our inaction will lead to a drastically altered landscape. A reception will be held on Thursday, February 16, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.
Saturday, February 11 through Sunday, March 12, 2017
9:00am-5:00pm except February 13 and President's Day
Bernards Township Community Art Show
Bernards Township is partnering with the Environmental Education Center to host the sixth annual non-juried art show with a wide variety of mediums and subjects. The artists are all Bernards Township adult residents and the subject matter is family friendly. Come to the EEC to see artwork created by your friends and neighbors. A reception will be held on Saturday. March 18 from 11:00am-Noon.
Saturday, March 18 through Sunday, April 23, 2017
9:00am-5:00pm except Good Friday and Easter
A Closer Look – Patterns in Nature and the Microcosmic World
This season the Ridge High School Ceramics Students have created tile designs and "think big" sculptures that were influenced by their research and observations of the Microcosmic World. With the help of micro/macro photographic imagery, miniscule micro-organisms display their awesome physical attributes and inherent natural beauty. These microscopic elements of magnificent design have inspired this artistic endeavor that invites us all to take a closer look! A reception will be held on Wednesday, May 3, from 5 to 7pm.
Saturday, April 29 through Sunday, May 28, 2017
SEMINAR and WORKSHOP
None at this time.
Birding with the EEC PDF
Canoe and Kayking Trips
Garden Discovery Tours PDF
The Center houses a comfortable, user-friendly resource library. A large number of books and a variety of periodicals regarding the many facets of our environment are available during regular building hours. A wide range of children's environmental books and magazines are also available.
The library has tables and chairs for on-site research and reading. Because it is a resource
library, not a lending library, all materials must remain on-site. Our resource library and
auditorium now have WiFi available for public use.
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Eight and one-half miles of relatively flat trails meander through 435 acres of The Great Swamp, of which approximately three miles are boardwalked. They are open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Cattails and sedges are found as you wander the boardwalks in the freshwater marsh. Along the Yellow Trail that takes you close to the Passaic River, the seasonally inundated floodplain is home to Pin Oak, Red Maple, and Ash. Along the southern perimeter of the park (the Blue and Red trails) succession is slowly changing abandoned farm fields to woodland. In these areas, wildflowers and shrubs mingle with grasses and saplings and provide homes for many birds, mammals, and insects.
The Special Use Trail (SUT) travels between the Center and Branta Pond. It is an easily accessible boardwalk trail for those who are looking for a short walk or for those with limiting abilities. It has a recently renovated Native Plant Garden, herb gardens, and a pleasant gazebo in which to sit and enjoy the surrounds.
Trail maps are available at the front desk or in PDF format by clicking here. Be sure to check out the kiosks at the trailhead and at the "dike" on the Red trail for seasonal information! (top of page)
Natural History Book and Gift Shop
A favorite stop for those looking for that special gift for a favorite outdoors friend, baby and children gifts, a special piece of jewelry or pottery, or maybe just a great book to add to one’s own personal book collection. A variety of "must have’s" for all ages are located in the main floor lobby gift shop.
The selection changes on an on-going basis and many pieces are limited in number. Best to visit regularly or with specific requests, call 908 766-2489 ext. 322. (top of page)
Room rentals are available on a limited, first-come, first-served basis to groups and organizations with an environmentally related mission or agenda.
For more information or to book a room, please call Jane Bodnar at 908 766-2489 ext. 323
E-mail the EEC with any questions or comments.(top of page)
• Program Registration Information & Locations
• Environmental Education Center
• Cape May and Birding Adventures - 2016
• Canoe & Kayak Programs & Trips
• Cross-Country Skiing
• Birthday Parties
• School Group Programs
• Scouts/Other Group Programs
• Maple Sugaring
• Special Events
• Family Program Series
• Natural History Book & Gift Shop
• Room Rental