Meet the Apprentices
Growing a Green Workforce
Trees are a critical nature-based solution to climate change and the skilled labor needed to maintain them is essential for the health and safety of our urban forests and the communities that rely on them.
Openlands is committed to growing a diverse and sustainable green workforce by creating a pipeline for careers in arboriculture. Through the Openlands Arborist Registered Apprenticeship (ARA) program, the first and only Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) of its kind in Illinois, aspiring arborists receive in-class and on-the-job training to build a foundation of tree knowledge and a network within the industry. Throughout the 3-year program, apprentices gain the skills and practical job experience to plant, care for, and manage the Chicago region’s trees, which is a key nature-based solution for urban communities.
The Openlands ARA program intends to have 19 individuals enrolled in the program by March 2024, with the goal of having better trained employees, higher retention rates, and creating a more diverse workforce for the tree care industry. As the program develops and grows, Openlands will continue strengthening employer partnerships, collaborate with regional programs on creating a green careers pipeline, and work with the industry on a national level by promoting RAPs and investing in workforce development as a scalable model for all careers in conservation.