Registration for the Fall 2024 Tree Steward Training will open in the late Spring. 

The program combines online and live classes and will include active field sessions involving walking on and off trail in forest settings, planting and pruning trees, as well as removing invasive plants in local parks and woodlands.  Classes begin August 6th and end November 16th.  Because we ask that all Tree Stewards be willing to volunteer at least 25 hours a year, this class is open only to those who live in the Charlottesville Area Tree Steward’s jurisdiction, which includes the city of Charlottesville, and Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Nelson, and Louisa counties. 

View the class schedule here

Only 32 students will be accepted for this program to ensure the best training experience.

To register and make your payment, please use this link to Eventbrite when registration opens.

Please keep in mind that payment is required before you are fully registered. But if you prefer, send your $160 check made out to:

Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards
Education Committee
Post Office Box 4211
Charlottesville, VA 22905

Become a Tree Steward

The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, one of about 12 Tree steward chapters across the Commonwealth, is an all-volunteer organization committed to promoting healthy urban and rural forests.

What do Tree Stewards Do?

Tree Stewards are trained to increase public awareness of the value of trees in all environments, rural and urban. We deliver training classes and various educational programs, lead tree walks, and hold community tree sales. We also lead a wide range of field projects including planting, pruning and caring for trees as well as removing invasive plant threats to trees in the five-county area around Charlottesville.  With training and hands-on practice, tree stewards are equipped to identify trees, counsel on tree selection, demonstrate proper tree planting, pruning and follow-up care, and guide removal of invasive plants that threaten trees.

Each person who becomes a Charlottesville Area Tree Steward makes a commitment to return a minimum of 25 volunteer service hours annually.  Because of this commitment, the class is open only to those who live in the Charlottesville Area Tree Steward’s jurisdiction, which includes the city of Charlottesville, and the counties of Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Nelson, and Louisa. The hours can be accumulated with work in the field or by helping with the various administrative and leadership needs of the organization. Active tree stewards average around 140 hours annually, but all volunteer hours are valued.

Why become a Tree Steward?

We are a positive force for environmental change in our communities through advocacy, education, planting and protecting urban and rural trees. The Tree Steward course will train you to accomplish these goals and give you a broader appreciation for the value of trees. We will match your skills and interests with a wide range of volunteer activities.

How to Become a Tree Steward

This Course is required for anyone to become a Charlottesville Area Tree Steward unless you have comparable training (e.g., you are a certified arborist or have a degree in tree-related sciences).  If you are in this category, please contact us at education4@cvilleareatreestewards.org .

Training Course Overview

The Fall 2024 class will consist of a combination of online training sessions and field activities with a maximum of 32 students to facilitate the best preparation possible. These activities will occur within a 15-week period beginning August 6th and ending November 16th. The online classes will precede the field activities held on every other Saturday at various locations in the Charlottesville area.  These sites will be identified at the time of registration.  Tuition is $160 and includes textbooks and other training materials, a Tree Steward carrying bag, and your membership dues through the end of 2025.  Membership dues in subsequent years are $20 per year.

To Graduate from this Course, you will need to:
    • Complete each of the online topics in the curriculum and achieve a score of at least 70 on the quizzes included with  the topics.  You can take any quiz multiple times to improve your score.
    • Attend ALL field activities included in the course (field sessions 1-6).  If you miss any of the six, you will need to make it up before the class concludes on November 16, 2024.  See the class schedule here.
    • Upon completion of this course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion
The On-line Training Sessions:

The on-line sessions consist of a series of 20 online narrated slideshows and videos to develop your stewardship knowledge. Typically, each module includes three main topics. In some cases, there are more, but if so, some are short subjects, e.g., how to record your volunteer hours.

Our online sessions are hosted on a learning management system called Moodle – Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. You will be provided instructions on how to access class training modules in Moodle. For most topics, there are several parts:

    • An introduction explaining why Tree Stewards need to know about the topic and a biography of the presenter.
    • A narrated slideshow or video that comprises the main content.
    • A quiz designed to assess your learning progress.
    • A summary of the topic’s key points; and
    • Some have references, additional review materials and optional independent exercises.

During the course, you will have ample opportunity to ask questions about content both online and live at our field sessions. You will be given access to Moodle in early August, prior to the first field activity.  This will allow you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the online learning program and complete the assignments required prior to the first field session.

The Field Activities:

Each field activity is preceded by viewing a few online topics which relate directly to the subject covered at the subsequent field activity. The two-week period between field activities provides adequate time to cover the required materials when it is most convenient for class members. The field activities put into practice the concepts and principles learned in the online materials dealing with tree identification, forest ecology, pruning, planting and invasive plant identification and treatment.

For field activities, the 32 class members will be divided into smaller groups so that all can readily hear presenters or conduct the day’s activities. For the Tree ID sessions, there will be three tree walk leaders working with about 10 class members each. For planting, pruning and invasives removal, class members will form groups of three with an experienced tree steward or outside instructor present in each group to demonstrate best practices and provide guidance.

To become a Certified Tree Steward you will need to:
    • Meet the course  requirements as listed above.
    • Complete a minimum of 25 volunteer service hours by December 31, 2025.
    • Once you are certified, you will receive a name badge and a pin acknowledging your annual service hours completion.
    • If you wish to be certified during the class, you’ll need 25 service hours by the end of class (Nov. 14, 2024).  If you become certified during the class, you will also receive the official CATS volunteer cap. 
Volunteer Service Hours:

Service hours include a wide range of activities:

    • Continuing Education Hours: Attendance at Tree Steward events (walks, short classes, zoom classes or member meetings) or approved tree-related events held by organizations with similar missions such Trees Virginia, Rivanna Conservation Alliance, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, PRISM, etc.
    • Project Hours: Hands-on work with CATS projects planting trees, pruning and caring for them and removing invasive plants. Helping with our tree sale and the management of our Nursery.  Hours supporting our sister organizations with tree related projects.
    • Administrative Hours: Administering our organization, managing our website or library, communicating with our constituencies or, planning and supporting a wide range of tasks, much of which can be done from home.

Throughout the course you will be informed of opportunities to experience and participate in a variety of Tree Steward activities that will allow you to match your skills and interests to what we do.

We are looking forward to meeting you, assisting you with the training program, working side-by-side with you and enjoying Piedmont Virginia’s beautiful urban and rural forests together as you progress through the class towards becoming a Tree Steward.

To learn more, you can reach us at education4@cvilleareatreestewards.org.