Registration for the Fall 2021 Training is Now Closed!


Become a Tree Steward

The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards is an all-volunteer organization committed to promoting healthy urban and rural forests. We are one of about a dozen Tree Steward Chapters across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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, hold community tree sales and a wide range of field projects in a five-county area around Charlottesville, Virginia.  With training and hands-on practice, tree stewards are equipped to identify trees, counsel on tree selection, plant and 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. 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

The class 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 your schedule conflicts with the training class, we will work with you to find other ways to satisfy the education requirement.

Please contact us at if either of these situations applies to you.

Training Program Overview…..

The Fall 2021 class will involve a combination of online training sessions and field activities with a maximum of 32 students to facilitate the best field training possible.  With a 15-week duration beginning August 7th and ending November 13th 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 $150 and includes textbooks and other training materials, a Tree Steward carrying bag, and your membership dues through the end of 2022.  Membership dues in subsequent years are $20 per year.

The training program has four parts:
  • A series of 20 online narrated slideshows and videos to develop your stewardship knowledge.
  • Six field activities to 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.
  • Optional homework assignments to practice your skills.
  • A wide range of out-of-class activities over the duration of the course to experience and participate in Tree Steward work. These activities will allow you to match your interests to what we do.
    1.  Out-of-class activities may include Tree Steward events (walks, short classes, projects and committee or member meetings), or events held by organizations with similar missions such as Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, etc.
    2.  Time spent in these activities will count towards your annual volunteer service hours requirement.
Your volunteer service as a Tree Steward can be made in three areas:
  • Educating the public through classes, walks, plantings and table events.
  • Hands-on work planting trees, pruning and caring for them, and removing threatening invasives.
  • 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.
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 at least 5 of the 6 field activities included in the course (field sessions 1-6).  If you miss one of the six, you will need to make it up by participating in a comparable Tree Steward activity outside the class during the class period between August 7th  through November 13, 2021. There will be many such opportunities.   See the class schedule here.
To become a certified tree steward you will need to:
  • Meet the course requirements as listed above.
  • Complete a minimum of 25 service hours by December 31, 2022.

     Note: If you wish to be certified during the class, you’ll need 25 service hours by November 13, 2021.

Our online classes 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 materials 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 brief assignments.

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 session.

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. 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 on the Tree Steward website.

Help will be available if there are any issues accessing or using the training materials.

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. 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.

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 toward becoming a Tree Steward.

To learn more, you can reach us at

Stay safe!