Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course

(New York, NY) Trees New York offers a Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course that trains adults and teenagers in tree care and pruning.

Category: Volunteers, Training
Participants take a final exam that certifies them to legally do certain work on trees owned by the City of New York. Trees New York connects graduates with community and neighborhood groups who need their assistance. In New York City where there is limited money for tree maintenance but significant need, this provides a tremendous benefit.
Founded in 1976, Trees New York’s mission is “to plant, preserve, protect and care for New York’s trees through education and action.” From its inception, Trees New York has placed a heavy emphasis on tree maintenance. The Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course was one of its first major projects and has evolved over the last 30 years to adapt to new issues and environments.
The Curriculum
The curriculum consists of eight hours of classroom training and four hours of hands-on experience in the field. Topics include tree identification, tree biology, the Asian Longhorned Beetle and other pests’ identification, tree pit gardening, tree pruning and how to have a tree planted on your block. The course fee is $90 and includes a comprehensive manual and other materials.
Adult classes are held twice a year in the spring and the fall in each of the five boroughs of New York City. Due to high demand, two sections are offered in Manhattan and one section in each of the other four boroughs. Because of high demand, two classes are offered in both the summer and the fall in Manhattan. New York Trees occasionally offers additional classes if there is a high demand, depending on staff availability.
The classes are two hours long and are held once a week for four consecutive weeks, followed by four hours of field training on a Saturday. Each class has approximately 10 to 25 students.
The classes for teenagers are held in coordination with various after-school and school programs and follow a different schedule but a similar curriculum.
Trees New York has three staff members who teach the course. In addition, it uses adjunct instructors from the city, state and other organizations to meet the demand. Approximately six instructors are needed each year.
Instructors must not only have an excellent understanding of the technical material covered in the course, they must also know how to teach to a population diverse in educational level, ethnicity, and income. Since the Citizen Tree Pruner Course is offered throughout the city, it attracts people from a wide variety of backgrounds and learning styles. Each class is tailored to those participating. As a result, although a standard curriculum is used, each class moves at its own pace.
Following the course, students are given an exam developed and graded by Trees New York that certifies them to be legally qualified to do certain work on trees owned by the City of New York. Certificates are co-signed by Trees New York and the New York City Commission of Parks. According to Trees New York, it is the only organization in the area that has established this relationship with the city.
Exams are available in Spanish as well as English. Most participants who complete the training pass the exam.
This certification is a very important component of the program since it gives program graduates recognition for the skills they have mastered and allows them to legally work on public land. Certification must be renewed every five years. Trees New York offers a renewal exam by mail.
Post-Graduate Follow-Up and Stewardship
One of the most important components of the Citizen Tree Pruner Course is the follow-up and stewardship that Trees New York offers graduates. Trees New York has strong affiliations with various community and neighborhood associations and helps integrate graduates into this network so that their skills can be utilized. Trees New York keeps in touch with graduates through a variety of methods including e-mailings and newsletters. A party is hosted each June for graduates, which gives them a chance to celebrate their accomplishments and to network.
The $90 fee charged to participants covers only part of the expenses of the Citizen Tree Pruner Course. The bulk of the funding comes from private foundations. In addition, Trees New York has partnerships with various organizations such as the Parks Department and the Borough of the Bronx that provide scholarships for some participants.
In 2004, Trees New York trained about 400 teenagers and 200 adults in tree care and pruning. Since its inception, it has certified over 10,000 adults and 5,500 teenagers.
1. Legal recognition is important. This increases the value of the course to participants and greatly increases their ability to use their skills.
2. It is important to maintain close supervision over course instructors, especially if non-staff faculty is used. Although there is a set curriculum, it is important that it be interpreted and presented in a skilled and judicious way. Make sure you know how your material is being used.
3. Flexibility is key. When you are working with a diverse group of students, it is essential to remember that people have different education levels, learning styles and cultural backgrounds that affect how they learn the material and how fast the class can cover the material. Although there is a standard curriculum, how it is presented to students may vary from class to class. It may take more than the standard 12hours to cover all the material.
4. Work with other organizations in the field when developing a curriculum. You do not want to reinvent the wheel but you need to give credit when appropriate.
Contact Information:
Susan Gooberman, Executive Director
Trees New York
51 Chambers Street, Suite 1412A
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 227-1887
Fax: (212) 732-5325
(c) 2005 Alliance for Community Trees