Each year, Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry division trains volunteer Tree Stewards who are interested in protecting the environment and giving back to the community. Tree Stewards help care for young trees on city-owned property, plant trees, and educate others.
“Tree Stewards play a very important role in keeping our urban tree canopy healthy and protected,” said Dan Henry, Parks Manager at Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “Since the first class graduated in 2009, volunteers have contributed over 8,000 hours, which has saved the city more than $180,000.”
The 26-hour training begins with nine classes held on Monday nights. Once the in-class training is complete, volunteers attend three field sessions held on Saturday mornings during the spring. The field training focuses on tree planting, pruning, and tree identification. Once qualified, Roanoke Tree Stewards complete at least 30 hours of work during their first year and at least 20 hours in subsequent years.
“These volunteers are well-trained by the time they hit the grass,” said Helen Smythers, Urban Forestry Planner at Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “We work in small volunteer groups and have a workday leader who supervises and answers volunteer questions.”
Unlike other cities its size, Roanoke has over 13,146 acres of tree canopy that cover more than 48 percent of the city’s limits. Home to more than 158 different types of trees, Roanoke’s urban forest is beautiful and diverse. Roanoke currently has 52 active Tree Steward volunteers, and Roanoke Parks and Recreation expects to train at least 20 more in 2018.
Roanoke Tree Stewards President David Edwards said, “Roanoke Tree Stewards are shaping Roanoke’s future through trees. They make a real difference.”
For more information, please contact Helen Smythers, Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry Planner, at [email protected] or 540-853-5225.