TreeKeepers Course Signup


Registration for the the Spring 2024 TreeKeepers Course is full now! Sign up for our TreeKeepers Newsletter for future updates.

Become a TreeKeeper & Help Protect the Urban Forest

The TreeKeepers certification course, which Openlands began in 1991, has trained over 2,000 volunteers to conserve, protect, and advocate for the region’s urban forest. To become certified as a TreeKeeper, participants must complete the course requirements listed below and pledge to volunteer after graduation. Once certified, TreeKeepers can host volunteer workdays, attend advanced trainings, and work in a local chapter to advance community forestry goals.

Becoming a TreeKeeper can be an entry way to:

  • Understand the environmental community in the Chicago region
  • Learn how trees can help mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • Meet and connect with many of the organizations doing “green” work
  • Join a respected and frequently requested group of educated volunteers
  • A new career

The Openlands TreeKeepers certification course takes place three times a year in Chicago as well as in the suburbs. One of the three courses each year is offered in Spanish.

The TreeKeepers Course and Requirements

The TreeKeepers Course is an eight-day course with classroom and field components. Lessons are taught by industry experts. Some of the topics covered include tree biology, soils, tree ID, pruning, planting, mulching, working with volunteers, advocacy, and pests and diseases.

To become certified as a TreeKeeper, course participants must complete the following requirements:

The English language certification course costs $128, with a limited number of scholarships available. The tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers lanyard, badge, and t-shirt. The Spanish language certification course is currently offered at no cost. 

Meet Our Expert Staff

TreeKeepers Program Specialist
Openlands Staff Tom Ebeling
Senior Forestry Program Manager
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