By Chris Bavender
For the past nine years, Hoosiers have had the chance to learn about the value of urban forests around Indiana through the Indiana Community Tree Steward Program. Participants spend close to18 hours on the course, which is a combination of lecture and hands-on training with a test at the end.
“This is a class that is for any and everyone. You don’t have to be a master gardener or an arborist, just an interest in learning and trees,” said Carrie Tauscher, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Urban Forester and Volunteer Coordinator. “Everyone has a different learning curve and we understand that. The best thing is that everyone will learn something they didn’t know and hopefully will know what to do with that knowledge when the class is over.”
The tree steward program was developed in 1995 by Pam Louks, of the DNR Forestry division, to engage Hoosiers in various aspects of urban forestry to generate a base of advocates. There are currently more than 1,000 tree stewards around Indiana.
“I hope to grow advocates in communities who understated the benefits and value of trees in our Indiana communities. I also hope they take away a curiosity about their own communities, HOA’s, landscapers tree-care practices,” Tauscher said. “There has been an extreme amount of research in the field of Arboriculture in the past 10 to 20 years. It’s still a young science (relatively speaking) and many practices have changed in the past five years. My hope is to expedite the learning curve, answer questions and stop the perpetuation of improper practices when it comes to caring for our trees.”
Joe Stasey, one of the instructors, has taken the course twice.
“I am a Master Gardner and was on the tree committee for Hamilton County Master Gardeners and we are going out and trimming trees in places like West Park and schools and we sell trees in the spring so I wanted to be knowledgeable,” he said. “It’s the largest thing growing in our yards so it makes a lot of sense to be knowledgeable about that.”
The program focuses on proper site selection, tree identification, proper tree maintenance, and identification of hazard trees and tree problems. Once the course is completed, participants are asked to volunteer for 15 hours in their community or with state urban forestry programs doing anything from planting trees to giving presentations on the care of trees.
The next session of the Tree Steward program is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. January 9, 16, 23, 30, and Feb. 6 at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds Annex, 2003 Pleasant St. in Noblesville. Cost is $35 and covers snacks and some of the pruning equipment used during the training and workday.
For more information call 234-4386 or email ctauscher@dnr.IN.gov.