TreeKeepers work throughout the region to keep trees healthy, administering proper care and promptly recognizing and reporting harmful pests. Since 1991, more than 1,800 trained volunteers have provided eyes and ears on the ground year round in neighborhoods all over Chicagoland to identify potential tree-related problems and lead neighbors in tree planting and tree care.
TreeKeepers learn how to help keep trees green and growing, volunteering in a variety of situations from street tree care and tree planting to woodland stewardship and advocacy. They are passionate ambassadors who help educate their neighbors as well as their public officials about the importance of trees for the greater good. Becoming a TreeKeeper can be an entry way to:
- understand the environmental community in the region and specifically in Chicago
- meet and connect to many of the organizations doing “green” work
- join a well-respected, recognized, and frequently requested group of educated volunteers
- a new career
The Openlands TreeKeepers certification program takes place twice a year in Chicago as well as in the suburbs. The Chicago program is hosted at a different location each time to make our way around the city.
Program and Requirements
The TreeKeepers Program is an eight day course with classroom and field components. Lessons are taught by nationally and world-renowned experts focused on managing and reducing the threats to forest health. Some of the topics covered include tree biology, soils, tree identification, pruning, tree selection, planting and mulching, and pests and diseases. The College of Education at Aurora University will also offer two undergraduate or graduate credit hours for an additional fee.
To be certified as a TreeKeeper, students must complete the following requirements:
- Attend all 8 classes (missed classes may be made up at a subsequent series)
- Pass a written exam (70% passing)
- Complete practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning
- Pledge 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation
- Adopt public trees in a park or on a parkway
- Have fun while learning about the urban forest!
The 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 badge, and a TreeKeepers t-shirt.
For more information on the TreeKeepers Program, please contact TreeKeepers@openlands.org or call 312.863.6271.
Support for Openlands’ TreeKeepers Program is generously provided by:
- Bartlett Tree Experts
- The Boeing Company
- The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
- NIB Foundation
- The Siragusa Foundation