“I have discovered that people’s schedules aren’t allowing for complete involvement in the training,” he said. “I don’t want to dissuade people from signing up because they can’t go to all four training sessions. If you can’t make them all, people are welcome to sign up as volunteers—how to mulch, for example, or planting.”
In addition, an emerald ash borer training session will be offered in ash identification, location and detection. This is part of a county effort to help prepare for the imminent arrival of the borer, which is guaranteed to wipe out the local, prevalent ash population.
The four basic courses Cooperative Extension requires are tree maintenance, structural pruning, tree biology, and right tree-right hole. “That means selecting the right species of tree for the site,” explained Skeval, a graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “Different trees are adapted to different sites, some do better in dry sites, some in damp sites. There’s a reason red maples are throughout swampy area: It’s because it can outcompete all those other species.”
Once trained, stewards continue to care for public trees when necessary. In fact, over the last nine years, the 200 trained volunteers have tended to more than 3,700 trees and planted more than 1,800 in city and county parks and neighborhoods.
Last year staffing changes and turnover meant the Tree Steward program didn’t get off the ground. “One of the things I’m trying to do is call everyone who’s been with the program and invite them back.”
With a target of 25 to 30 Tree Stewards, Skeval plans to team veteran participants with new volunteers, including students from the SUNY-ESF. The minimum age for volunteering is 13.
CommuniTree Steward training classes run every other Wednesday from April 6 through May 14. Each training session lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. Classes are held at Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Atrium, 2 Clinton Square. For more information, call 424-9485, Ext. 231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Urban forester: David Skeval will lead the revitalized CommuniTree Steward program at Cornell Cooperative Extension.