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Openlands TreeKeepers at The Morton Arboretum

Take action to care for and protect trees in your community by becoming a 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. The Morton Arboretum partners with Openlands to provide TreeKeepers training and program support for tree care. 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 seven 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:

  • Attend 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


Fall 2017 session of TreeKeepers

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

TreeKeeper in your community

TreeKeepers volunteers can provide valuable support to local communities, governments and extend municipal forestry budgets, especially as suburbs face the devastation of the emerald ash borer.  Volunteers can plant, water, and maintain trees to replace those that have been lost, as well as help with monitoring and  tree inventories. Public officials interested in the possibility of working with TreeKeepers in the western suburbs should email Tricia Bethke,