The Morton Arboretum logo

Openlands TreeKeepers® at The Morton Arboretum

Take action to care for and protect trees in your community by becoming an Openlands TreeKeeper® volunteer at The Morton Arboretum.  You will join a corps of volunteers dedicated to trees in our urban forest of cities and suburbs. 

Urban trees face different challenges than forest trees. They must contend with limited space, disrupted soils, pollution, traffic, drought, insect pests, competition from invasive plants, and other stresses. It is estimated that the lifespan of an urban street tree is only about 15 years.

Volunteers can help. Over more than 23 years, Openlands has trained and deployed more than 1,600 TreeKeepers® to help care for trees in Chicago and Cook County. The Morton Arboretum partners with Openlands to provide TreeKeepers® training and program support ouside Cook County. Just one example of their work, Treekeepers helped a local community re-plant after emerald ash borer devastated many of its trees. 

TreeKeepers® support the work of professional arborists and local governments’ forestry staff by properly planting and mulching trees and pruning from the ground as necessary. They are trained to recognize and report harmful pests and other hazards and to be advocates for trees and tree care.

Training consists of eight sessions at the Arboretum in which volunteers learn to identify, plant, care for, and prune trees in hands-on workshops taught by tree professionals. Once trained, TreeKeepers® put their skills into action through volunteer work in their own communities or across the metropolitan area.

In order to be certified as TreeKeepers®, participants must:

  • Attend all eight classes (missed classes may be made up)
  • Pass a written exam
  • Complete practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning
  • Pledge to perform 24 hours of volunteer work for trees within the year following graduation
  • Have fun and make tree-loving friends while learning about the urban forest!


Check back in July for the Fall 2016 session of TreeKeepers®

Participants 16 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult registrant. The course costs $128 for members and $150 for nonmembers. Need-based scholarships are available.

TreeKeepers® in your community

TreeKeepers® volunteers can provide valuable support to local governments and extend municipal forestry budgets, especially as suburbs face the devastation of the emerald ash borer. These volunteers can plant, water, and maintain trees to replace those that have been lost, as well as helping with other tasks such as monitoring and  tree inventories. Public officials interested in the possibility of working with TreeKeepers® in the western suburbs should email Beth Corrigan, Community Trees program coordinator at The Morton Arboretum, at

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful 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, see