A group of dedicated Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Tree Stewards has been working hard to produce a new manual for Advanced EMG Tree Steward training that’s designed especially for Virginia EMGs.

“There was a real need for information specifically for Virginia EMGs,” says Carol King who helped lead efforts to produce the new Tree Steward manual. “This new manual has information on each region of Virginia and is tailored for Master Gardeners. It includes examples of past unit projects with trees, as well as space for local units to add their own content.” According to Frank Reilly this manual is a vast improvement over the previous edition. It includes many more illustrations and write-ups as well as more current information.

“Tree Steward certification is not just training, it’s a portal that gives you a grounding to focus on an important plant world” says King who became a Tree Steward in 2009. “Trees are the biggest living things around, and they’re incredibly important,” she adds.

In addition to content tailored specifically for Virginia, the updated Tree Steward manual also contains sections on botany, soils and nutrients, tree families, ecology, planting and care, and storm damage.

“There was a need for information written especially for Master Gardeners,” says King. “There was a gap between information written by and for experts and information for the general public. While writing the manual, we tried to pick a middle ground that speaks specifically to Master Gardeners.”

According to King, advanced Master Gardener training like the Tree Steward program opens the door to expert knowledge and involvement in important community programs like tree inventories.

“Some Tree Stewards become seriously involved in tree inventories, helping communities take better care of their trees, or tree giveaway programs, which can begin to make a huge difference,” she says.

poster advertising loudoun tree stewards
Tree Stewards from Loudoun County displayed a posted at Master Gardener College, 2015.

The manual is still in its final draft stages. Master Gardeners who participate in this year’s Tree Steward training at Master Gardener College will have the opportunity to test drive the manual and submit comments that will help inform final manual edits.

In addition to King, the other EMG members of the Treee Steward Manual Committee were: Bill Blair, Diane Ellis, Carol Fryer, Gwen Harris, Daina Henry, Sherry Kern, Carol King, Barbara Krumpen, Sue Liddell, Laura Marlowe, Patsy McGrady, Jeanne Millin, Anne Nielsen, Jim Newton, and Cindy Ogle.

Agents and associates also contributed: Caroline Herath, Dan Nortman, Ed Olsen, and Megan Tierney.

Professional expertise was provided by: Dr. Laurie Fox, Horticulture Associate, VT Hampton Roads AREC; Renee Frith, ISA Certified Arborist and Curator of Woody Plants, Norfolk Botanical Gardens; Dr. Ed Gilman (by virtue of his works), Professor of Environmental Horticulture, University of Fla Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; Joel Koci, Urban/Community Forestry Associate, Virginia State University, and Board Certified Master Arborist; Dr. Janet Steven, Assistant Professor, Department of Organismal and Environmental Biology, Christopher Newport University; and Dr. Eric Wiseman, Associate Professor of Urban Forestry, Virginia Tech.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Tree Steward program or in participating in upcoming Tree Steward certification at EMG College, please check the latest edition of In Season (the State Coordinator’s Office newsletter) here or read “Advanced Master Gardener Tree Steward Training Offered at 2018 College”