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Parks and Recreation

215 Church Ave., S.W., Room 303

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017

News Release

Roanoke,  VA – Each year, Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry program trains volunteers who are interested in protecting the environment and giving back to the community. These Tree Stewards help care for young trees on city-owned property. The next free training starts on Monday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and registration is now open.

“Tree Stewards play a very important role in keeping our urban tree canopy healthy and protected,” said Dan Henry, Urban Forestry Coordinator at Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “Since the first class graduated in 2009, volunteers have contributed almost 7,000 hours, which has saved the city roughly $155,000.”

The 26-hour training begins with nine classes held on Monday nights. Once the in-class training is complete, volunteers join three field sessions held on Saturday mornings during the spring. The field training focuses on tree planting, pruning and tree identification. Once qualified, Roanoke Tree Stewards complete a minimum of 30 hours of work during their first year and 20 hours in subsequent years. Volunteers may also give educational presentations to adults and children.

“We make sure that our volunteers are well prepared and we like to create a supportive learning environment,” said Helen Smythers, Urban Forestry Planner at Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “We work in small volunteer groups and have a work day leader who supervises and helps answer volunteer questions.”

Unlike other cities its size, Roanoke has more than 13,146 acres of tree canopy that covers more than 48 percent of the city. Home to more than 158 different types of trees, Roanoke’s urban forest is diverse and vast. The city currently has 40 active Tree Steward volunteers and Roanoke Parks and Recreation expects to train at least a dozen more in 2017.

For more information, please contact Whitney Slightham, Roanoke Parks and Recreation Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, at or 540-853-5847.