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Those who live, work or attend school in Evanston can take advantage of early registration for the fall 2016 Openlands TreeKeepers Training Program, an 8-day course focused on managing and reducing the threats to forest health.

Openlands is an organization dedicated to protecting the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois. Since 1991, more than 1,800 trained volunteers have offered their support, services and expertise to identify and solve tree-related issues across the Chicagoland area. The TreeKeepers Training course aims to inform participants about how trees function to sustain urban environments and provide skills and understanding of urban forestry. Topics covered include tree biology, soils, tree identification, pruning, tree selection, planting, pests and diseases.

Early registration is available from Tuesday, July 5 through Saturday, July 23. To register, community members should call/text 847-448-4311 or email sustainability@cityofevanston.org. Starting July 25, registration will be open to the general public. 

The training course will take place on Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., September 17 through October 13 at the Evanston Ecology Center, located at 2024 McCormick Blvd. in Evanston.

Tuition for the program is $128 with limited scholarships available through Openlands. Tuition includes a one-year membership to Openlands, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge and a TreeKeepers t-shirt.

To become a certified TreeKeeper, participants must:

  • Attend all eight classes (missed classes may be made up at a subsequent series)
  • Pass a written exam (60% 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 for a long-term project
  • Have fun while learning about the urban forest!

Those who would like to learn more about the TreeKeepers Training Program are encouraged to join the Evanston TreeKeepers at Dempster Street Beach House, 1251 Lakeshore Blvd., on Saturday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

Evanston-based TreeKeepers work with the Environmental Services Bureau of the City’s Public Works Agency year-round to provide vital support and advocacy for Evanston’s urban canopy. Many Evanston residents and City staff have participated in the TreeKeepers Program.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens.

For more information about the TreeKeepers Program, please visit openlands.org/treekeepers