Tivon Feeley, Forestry Extension Specialist, Natural Resource Ecology and Management
There has been great interest in urban forestry and tree care in Iowa, with an ever-increasing need for trained volunteers to assists the professionals in the field. The Iowa Community Tree Steward Program was created to help fill that void. Since its creation, numerous County Extension Offices have contacted ISU Forestry Extension to host a Community Tree Steward Program in their county.
The Iowa Community Tree Steward program was designed to serve community volunteers. In both classroom and field settings (hands-on), participants learn: tree identification, species selection, tree planting, tree care and maintenance, pest management, value assessment, inventory techniques, program planning, funding, and implementation. In turn, each graduate must contribute 24 hours of volunteer hours back to his or her community.
The benefits to the community are numerous. Many Tree Stewards have become community leaders and a source of knowledge about proper tree management. Several have developed and served on their community tree board and helped to form tree ordinances. Many Tree Stewards have volunteered at their ISU County Extension Office to answer tree questions. Others have volunteered at their local grade schools to educate Iowas youth on the importance of trees and tree care or held public education days. Currently the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is using these highly trained volunteers to help with gypsy moth trap placement and monitoring and monitors for potential Emerald Ash borers. Currently the USDA Forest Service is looking at providing regional funds for equipment and educational material for the volunteers. So far, there are 690 graduates from the Iowa Community Tree Steward Program that have turned in 22,752 hours of volunteer service. Interest in the program continues to grow as we travel to new communities.
Results from the 2007 Tree Steward Program in Polk and Linn Counties have produced more trained volunteers. The 2007 Tree Steward Program had 52 trained volunteers graduate. The evaluations of the program showed that 99% of the participants felt that the program was very useful, 97% learned new and valuable ideas, and 98% reported that the information learned in the program would be used immediately. In addition, the survey has helped identify other areas of interest to keep the program fresh and interesting to the consumers.
The pretest in Linn County averaged 23% and the final exam had a 90% average.
The pretest in Polk County averaged 21% and the final exam had an 87% average.
June 28, 2007
160 Natural Resources and Stewardship
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August 2, 2007
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