Volunteers needed for CommuniTree Steward Program

— Community members looking for a hands-on education and technical experience in urban tree management are invited to sign-up for the CommuniTree Steward program. This volunteer service-based program from Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) offers FREE training in tree biology, tree identification, and planting and maintenance for young trees. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) training, including in-depth ash tree identification, EAB detection and monitoring, are included in the course curriculum.

The course consists of four in-class and field training sessions in April and May. Classes are taught by CCE Educators, local urban forestry professionals, and faculty from Cornell University and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Trained volunteers then assist with five community tree projects throughout the summer where they will continue receiving hands-on education and technical experience in urban tree management. Each training session and project is two hours. Additional optional training sessions and field trips are offered throughout the year.

The CommuniTree Steward program was created in 2002 in response to the Labor Day Storm and decades of tree-loss from Dutch elm disease in Syracuse. Since the program started, 300 tree stewards have been trained, more than 7,000 trees have been maintained, and more than 1,800 trees have been planted. The efforts of CommuniTree Stewards have saved Onondaga County and Syracuse tax payers thousands of dollars in tree service and have made Syracuse and its surrounding communities a more beautiful place to live. Tree Stewards have gone on to lead neighborhood associations and park associations in tree care as well as make important contributions to Onondaga County in an effort to monitor invasive species. EAB monitoring is part of a county effort to help communities prepare for the imminent arrival of EAB.

Training sessions for new CommuniTree Stewards will start at 6 p.m. on April 23. The deadline to sign-up is April 18. Registration forms are available online at extendonondaga.org or contact CCE at 424-9485, email djc353@cornell.edu.

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