Community Tree Champion Volunteers

Help improve the health of the Chicago region by joining the Community Tree Champion volunteer program.

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We need your help.

Chicago’s regional forest is a critical asset that needs our protection. Trees clean air and water, help to manage stormwater, improve our property values, create habitat for wildlife, and provide significant social and health benefits. In short, trees improve our quality of life.

But trees need our help. They face threats such as invasive plants including buckthorn and honeysuckle, pests such as the emerald ash borer, and a lack of funding for proper tree care. These issues are having significant impacts on the health and survival of our regional forest.

If you enjoy learning about trees and sharing that knowledge with others, consider becoming a Community Tree Champion!

Application Information

The Community Tree Champion program is a part of The Morton Arboretum’s volunteer program. Please refer to the “How to Apply” tab for more information.

The Community Tree Champion volunteer program offers a wide variety of roles and opportunities.

Your involvement will include preparing and organizing outreach materials and participating in outreach events. Training will be provided on the value of trees, effectively communicating, and hosting outreach events with other volunteers or on your own. Volunteers can participate in a variety of activities:

  • Participate in tree planting events, take on small leadership roles.
  • Plant and care for newly planted young trees: watering, mulching, and monitoring for pests, diseases, and signs of stress.
  • Assist CRTI staff with program preparation, delivery, and clean up, as needed.
  • Prepare materials and assist at booths for outreach events.
  • Participate in tree planting events: lead small groups in tree planting, ensure proper planting technique.
  • Advocate for trees and green spaces and teach others about the benefits of trees.
  • Help communities track and assess trees through inventory workshops.
  • Provide general materials and equipment organization assistance, including cleaning tools, assessing tool quality, and inventory needs.

Access to Fellow Volunteers, Trainings, and Experts

Want to participate but don’t know much about tree care? Many tree science–related training sessions, webinars, workshops, and other educational opportunities will be available to you as a CTC Volunteer, including proper planting technique and how to communicate and effectively advocate for trees. Through these training and outreach events you’ll meet and work with other volunteers, partner organizations, and green industry professionals.

Outreach in Your Community

Are you interested in making connections in your community? While much of our work is focused on specific priority areas, there will be opportunities to focus your work in your communities of interest. Locally sourced volunteers often have their ears to the ground and bring invaluable relationships, oral histories, and ideas on potential partnerships and planting sites. CRTI will help you find opportunities and potential partners in your communities.

The CTC Volunteer program is part of The Morton Arboretum volunteer program.

To apply for this program, you must fill out The Morton Arboretum’s online volunteer application. When filling out the application, please note that you are applying to join CRTI Community Tree Champions in the “Why Volunteer” section.

Community Tree Champion (CTC) Volunteers FAQ

  • Absolutely! CTC Volunteers have access to training and workshops on tree planting, care, identification, and other related topics. If you don’t have a lot of experience in these fields, you’ll initially be in support roles. As you gain more experience and knowledge you’ll have the opportunity to take on more responsibility and leadership roles depending on your comfort level and interest.

  • No, you don’t need to focus on any one community. We’ll do our best to match you to opportunities in your area of interest but we’ll often need support throughout the seven-county region.

  • The initial volunteer interview with the Arboretum Volunteer Office will happen at the Arboretum. Other than that first step you’ll only need to come to the Arboretum for CRTI-related training, workshops, and meetings. However, these events are held throughout the region as well.

  • The Morton Arboretum provides a portal for active registered volunteers to log hours, maintain schedules, and stay connected to new opportunities.