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Environmental Education Center

190 Lord Stirling Rd, Basking Ridge, NJ
908 722-1200 Ext. 5002   
EEC Home Page


Special Events
Annual events at the Environmental Education Center provide the general public with a wide array of fun-filled and educational experiences.

Maple Sugaring
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 908 722-1200 ext.5332.

Suggested donation: $1 per person
February 17, 18, 24, 25
March 3, 4, 10, 11
Saturdays - 10:00am, Noon, and 2:00pm
Sundays - Noon and 2:00pm

Saturday post-Maple Sugaring Program Series - New Program
(All Ages)

Following the Maple Sugaring public programs, come warm up back at the EEC with a family friendly presentation series. It will be good clean fun!
Pre-registration is not required.

Who Cooks For You?
Saturday, February 17

Who does not love owls? Seeing a Great Horned Owl silhouetted against a sunset or hearing Barred Owls give their distinctive, "Who Cooks For You?" call in the dead night is one of the most exciting experiences in the bird world. Come to the first program in our series, which will be all about the world of owls. We will talk about owl diversity around the globe, learn cool facts about our local owl species, and watch amazing videos about these wonderful feathery friends.

Creature Feature
Saturday, February 24

Who lives in the EEC? Come meet some of our scaly, hairy, slimy, and smooth friends that reside right inside our building. They might have four legs, six, or even eight and are looking forward to meeting new friends!

So Sweet to Eat
Saturday, March 3

Maple sugar is not the only delectable sweet we get from nature. Agave, sugar cane, beet sugar, coconut sugar, honey, stevia are just a few that we add to our tasty treats. Join a Naturalist as we discuss other plant derived sugars.

Bizarre Birds
Saturday, March 10

There are over 10,000 bird species throughout the world and they have all worked very hard to impress you with their crazy colors, delightful dances, sensational sounds, and fantastic feathers. We look forward to telling you all about our favorite birds.

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 Mammal Mania, a special live mammal program presented by Travis Gale of Eyes Wild. 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 29, 2018

'The Magic of Nature' Fairy Garden -This Event is Full
(All Ages)
The woodland fairies have made their home in the Discovery Gardens! Celebrate with us as we give them a proper welcome. Use your imagination to create tiny homes for these enchanting creatures using only natural materials. Wear your fairy wings as you listen to whimsical stories, wave magic wands, and sprinkle fairy dust. Don't leave without getting your face painted!
Join us anytime between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on Sunday, June 3.
FREE but space is limited. RSVP required. or 908-766-2489 ext. 5334.

Summer Garden Strolls
(All Ages)
Spend some time strolling through the Discovery Gardens with a Naturalist. Add to your plant knowledge as you enjoy the various types of gardens and their unique plants.
Program is FREE. Registration is not required.

Thursday, June 14
Sunday, July 8
Sunday, August 26
Sunday, June 17
Thursday, July 19
Wednesday, August 29
Thursday, June 21
Sunday, July 22
Sunday, September 23

The County Caper - 10th Anniversary
The County Caper 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. This special event is 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 14.
$20 per team (non-refundable)
Course Code: 51492

EEC-10 Sunday, August 19

The County Caper Accelerated!
The County Caper Accelerated! 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. This exciting event is for those who crave adventure in their own backyard. Pre-registration is required and ends at 4:30pm on August 14.
$20 per team (non-refundable)
Course Code: 51597

EEC-9 Saturday, August 18

Hawkwatch at the EEC - New program
(All Ages)
Join a Naturalist on the back deck of the Environmental Education Center and watch migrating raptors on their journey south. Stay for as long as you would like or drop in to see what has been spotted. Pre-registration is not required.
Saturday, September 29

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, butter making, 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 7, 2018

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Family Program Series

A is for
Apoidea - Astronomy - Arctic Avians

Do Male And Female Bees Like Different Flowers?
Are some foods "boy foods" or "girl foods"? If so, do you think the reasons are cultural? Do animals have cultures? How about insects? Why might male and female bees visit different plants? In 2016, Michael Roswell, a Doctoral Candidate from Rutgers University, led a research project to see if, for wild bees, there are "boy foods" and "girl foods". His data suggests there are. Come by to discuss the data and explore reasons for the patterns that emerged. Together we will think about what makes a bee male or female, or both.
Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Trip To The Moon
This family-friendly program presented by John Black takes a look at some of the theories of the origin of the moon. Then depending on the weather, he will try to let participants view some of the different features of the moon through a telescope. If time and weather permits, the group will take a little tour around the sky to see what else is visible. We might get lucky and see a comet! Please dress for the weather.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Birds of the Arctic — Conservation Media from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Join Andy Johnson, a lifelong birder and film producer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as he shares a sampling of projects from the Cornell Lab's Conservation Media initiative and discusses the team's mission to advance actionable conservation through multimedia storytelling. Andy has worked alongside Cornell Lab producer and award-winning photographer Gerrit Vyn on shoots from China's Yellow Sea to Alaska's Pribilof Islands, where the team has filmed long-distance migratory shorebirds and seabirds as indicators of a changing Arctic.
Saturday, March 24, 2018

Mammal Mania
As the grand finale to our "Project E.A.R.T.H. – Swamp Search!" join us for a live mammal program. Travis Gale of Eyes Wild will educate and entertain with his special collection of live wild mammals. 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 29, 2018

NJ Lighthouse Challenge Weekend! - New program
Join Somerset County Park Commission Naturalists on a two-day adventure! We will be traveling by van to explore the historical New Jersey coast and stopping at the most iconic lighthouses along the way. The weekend of October 20-21 is the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge Weekend. Staying Saturday night at the Victorian Motel near the beach, in the heart of Cape May we will be within easy walk¬ing distance of many restaurants, cafes, and delis. We will make 'happy' stops each day for the purchasing of lunch, drinks, snacks and so forth. The cost of participants' meals is their responsibility.

This trip is for active adults and seniors with an interest in lighthouses, coastal environments, and New Jersey History. Registration closes Saturday, September 1 at Noon.
$280 per person
Course Code: 50803

EEC-01 Saturday, October 20 - Sunday, October 21

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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.
Friday, January 5 through Sunday, February 4, 2018
9:00am-4:30pm except Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

EarthHelpers: Environmental Concerns
Ridge High School and the Willow School join in this exciting collaborative art exhibit. Using environmental issues as a point of departure, this exhibition explores a way of seeing the world through two different age groups of students, as they approach environmental concerns for our planet. The motive and methods were independent and interdependent. This resulted in a unique experience with amazing drawings and sculptures. Much of the work by Ridge High School students highlights critical concerns, while the elementary students from the Willow School addressed hopeful aspects to these problems. The two groups collaborated, and shared responsibility, creating sculptures using natural materials, out of which came "Earth Helper". A reception will be held on Thursday, February 22 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.
Saturday, February 10 through Sunday, March 11, 2018
9:00am-5:00pm except Lincoln's Birthday and Presidents' Day

Bernards Township Community Art Show
Bernards Township is partnering with the Environmental Education Center to host the seventh 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 17 from 11:00am to Noon.
Saturday, March 17 through Sunday, April 22, 2018
9:00am-5:00pm except Good Friday and Easter

Creature Comforts: Custom Designed Homes for Critters
This season the Ridge High School Ceramics Students have created custom designed homes for a wild animal of their choice. This effort revolves around slab constructions that become a fantasy home for an animal of the student's choice. The designs include whimsy, imagination, and a touch of the practical for their specific animal. There will be bird houses but also some weird and wild housing concepts for all kinds of creatures. Visit the EEC and let your imagination run wild. A reception will be held on Thursday, May 3 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.
Tuesday, May 1 through Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Great Swamp Experience
"The Great Swamp Experience", located on the lower level of the EEC, features interactive displays, vignettes, taxidermy, and archeological artifacts highlighting the history and ecology of the Great Swamp. Open 7 days a week from 9:00am to 4:30pm, visiting children can crawl into a beaver lodge, feel animal fur, or explore the toddler area. For adults, habitat vignettes share educational content of the flora and fauna found in the swamp's river, meadows, ponds, marshes, and forests. Historical exhibits include information about the Wisconsin Glacier, mastodon bones, Paleo-Indians, and Lord Stirling. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about hydrology, sustainability, and the park's geographic location. Admission is free. Children must be monitored by an adult.

Jersey Wild
From carnivorous plants from the Pine Barrens to the endangered bobcats of the Highlands, New Jersey harbors some truly amazing creatures and wild places. This photographic exhibition, featuring the work of ecologist and nature photographer Tyler Christensen, represents more than ten years spent photographing the beauty and fragility of New Jersey's species and ecosystems. This exhibit includes rare up-close images of New Jersey's wild bobcats captured using motion-activated cameras, and photographs of many other beautiful and vulnerable animals and plants that call our state home.
Saturday, September 1 through Monday, October 8, 2018
9:00am-5:00pm except Labor Day



Captured by Camera 
Nature Photography Workshop at the EEC
Expert photographers from the Camera Naturalists Photography Club will host a photography seminar at the EEC consisting of two sessions which can be taken separately or together. Both sessions will include in-the-field time to help participants improve use of their own digital camera to capture nature images as well as computer time to learn how to organize and edit digital files. The morning session will also include presentations on composition and digital workflow. The afternoon will include presentations on bird/wildlife photography and digital editing. The aim is to assist all levels of photographers, with any kind of camera to become more confident and skilled in the art of nature photography. Sign up for both sessions and receive a $10 discount. Both sessions will be held rain or shine. For more information about the workshop and the Camera Naturalist Photo Club visit
$40 per person per session
Course Code: 51808
New date coming soon!
EEC-01 9:00am-Noon
EEC-02 1:00pm-4:00pm


Birding with the EEC PDF
Canoe and Kayking Trips
Cape May Birding Trip PDF
Garden Discovery Tours PDF
Southeastern Arizona Birding and Nature Trip PDF

resource Library

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 908 722-1200 ext. 5322. (top of page)

Room Rentals

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 908 722-1200 ext. 5323

E-mailthe EEC with any questions or comments.(top of page)

Public Programs
    • January Programs
    • February Programs
    • March Programs
    • April Programs
    • May Programs
    • June Programs
    • July Programs
    • August Programs
    • September Programs
    • October Programs
    • November Programs
    • December Programs
Specialty Programs
    • Birding
    • Birthday Parties
    • Canoe & Kayak
    • Cross Country Skiing
    • Family Program Series
    • Forest Fitness
    • Garden Discovery
    • Libraries, Senior Centers &
      Other Groups
    • Maple Sugaring
    • Other Day Trips & Overnight Trips
    • Scouts
    • Summer "Camps"
    • Workshops

School Programs
    • Field Trips
    • In School Programs
    • Biomimicry Programs
    • School Program Guide
Trips & Outings
    • Birding
    • Canoe & Kayak
    • Garden Discovery
    • Other Day Trips & Overnight Trips
    • 1770s Festival
    • By the Light of the Moon
    • County Caper
    • Events
    • Family Program Series
    • Festival of Trees
    • Live Animal Show
    • Swamp Search
    • Temporary Exhibits
    • Trail Scramble
Program Calendars
Trails & Facilities
    • Auditorium
    • Biomimicry STEM Lab
    • Discovery Room
    • EEC Brochure
    • Gift Shop/Library
    • The Great Swamp Experience
    • Pond View Room
    • Room Rentals
    • Temporary Exhibits
    • Trail Map
    • The Tree House

  Volunteers are needed and appreciated   throughout the year. Please contact
  Jane Bodnar at 908 722-1200 ext.5323 or   email your completed application and
  waiver to .

Volunteer Application for Adult
Volunteer Application for Minor
   Volunteer Waiver for Adults
   Volunteer Waiver for Minors/Dependents

Corporate Volunteer Groups please contact Jane Parks at 908 722-1200 ext.5336 or

Hours & Directions
The building is open 9am-5pm daily.
Exhibits are open 9am-4:30pm daily.
Registration is accepted 9am-4:30pm daily.
The building is closed on Holidays.
Trails are open dawn to dusk daily but closed on Deer Management days as scheduled.

 Click here for Directions
Donations & Sponsorship

Donations are gladly accepted.
Please make checks payable to:
The Somerset County Park Commission
and mail to Carrie Springer,
190 Lord Stirling Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Support Packet

Ask A Naturalist


Have a question about a plant or animal species you saw in Lord Stirling Park or northern New Jersey?

One of our naturalists can help you! Complete the form and an EEC staff member will do their best to solve your nature mysteries!

On-line Registration
On-line Registration