Iowa Community Tree Steward Program

Christopher Feeley, P & S, Natural Resource Ecology & Management

Situation

There has been great interest in urban forestry and tree care in Iowa. Numerous County Extension offices have contacted Forestry Extension about having a Community Tree Steward Program in their county. The program, which includes six 4-hour training sessions over a six-week period, is offered at various locations throughout Iowa. To complete the program and become an Iowa Community Tree Steward, participants are expected to attend all sessions and contribute 24 volunteer hours back to their community forests.

Objective

Train highly motivated community volunteers to get involved with urban forestry and urban forestry issues. To have each graduate contribute 24 volunteer hours back to their community.

Activities

The Iowa Community Tree Steward program was designed to serve community forestry and parks staff, tree care professionals, utility companies, county conservation staff, and 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 work back to his or her community.

Impact

The benefits to the community are numerous. Many Tree Stewards have become community leaders and a resource of knowledge about proper tree management. Several have developed and served on their community tree boards 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 Iowa's 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 for potential Emerald Ash borers. So far, there are 599 graduates from the Iowa Community Tree Steward Program who have turned in 15,996 hours of volunteer service. Interest in the program continues to grow as we travel to new communities. Results from a recent survey conducted by Dr. Janette Thompson and her graduate student Lynetta V. Clevaland found the following (374 randomly selected graduates were sent the survey. The response rate was 61%): Eight-six percent of respondents had finished their 24 hours of volunteer service. The following activities were conducted to complete the hours: 88% involved with tree planting, 84% with pruning, 72% promoting tree care in their community, 48% providing leadership (tree board members, Trees Forever), and 30% had conducted street tree inventories for the community. Seventy-two percent had been in contact with ISU Extension or other tree professionals for continued training. Nearly 99% of the respondents indicated that they would recommend the Iowa Community Tree Steward Program to other potential participants. Based on these results and the program evaluation since 1994, I feel this program has meet and exceeded the set goals. To keep the Tree Stewards active we have started a Tree Steward Reunion on Campus and the new Iowa Community Tree Steward Newsletter to keep in touch with our trained volunteers.

 

2005
146 -- Consumer Horticulture and Forestry

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