is a new model for sustained, proactive stewardship at the neighborhood level in St. Louis.

Ultimately, our goal is residents caring for their own neighborhood trees. We believed those most familiar with and most impacted by their neighborhood tree canopy need and deserve the ability to have their goals and concerns proactively addressed. We believe ongoing resident engagement is the only way to address our tree care backlog and create the urban canopy our region needs.

Our Benton Park West pilot program welcomes volunteers from around the region. Volunteers will be able to participate in hands-on learning opportunities closer to home as new Neighborhood Foresters groups are established. Residents of communities lacking a group will always be welcome to gain skills to take back to care for their canopy.

Join us at our volunteer events and meetings to see how Neighborhood Foresters works and how it can improve your neighborhood!


A volunteer program that empowers residents with tools and knowledge to improve community wellbeing by transforming their tree canopy.

Key Program Characteristics

  • Neighborhood-based
  • Community-led
  • Sustainable Long-term
  • Proactive
  • Inclusive

We feel these characteristics are critical in the program to provide the capacity and community buy-in needed.


What exactly do Neighborhood Foresters do?

Clearance Prune – Pruning to improve access to sidewalks and parking or remove damage and minor structural/growth issues. We only prune smaller branches able to be safely pruned from the ground.

Inventory – Inventorying creates or corrects the records of trees to support future tree care and planting efforts. The goal is to begin creating a more accurate picture of the neighborhood canopy and needed care by recording tree location, health and other key data. This can be done with digital or paper data collection tools.

Mulch – Mulch is a powerful tool to reduce competition from grass and other plants, retain rainfall and supplemental water, and improve the soil of the planting site. Most trees are mulched at the time of planting. We correct common improper mulching practices on new plantings. Mulch mostly decomposes after a year, so we add new mulch as needed.

Supplemental Watering – Trees in urban planting sites often can’t survive their first summer with rainfall alone. During periods of high temperature and/or low rainfall, providing additional water is key to avoid wasting the hope and resources invested when planting of a tree.

Planting – Planting is not a program activity; our stewardship instead increases the success of other community plantings while inventories support planning of future plantings. Neighborhood Foresters are always welcome to participate independently in community plantings, and – we hope – share about the importance of post planting stewardship.

Why Be A Neighborhood Forester?

  • Learn about nature in your neighborhood
  • Join a supportive volunteer community
  • Meet neighbors, make friends
  • Make your neighborhood a better place to live
  • Be part of something important! Help shape the program!
  • Free tree care toolkit, yours to keep
  • Invitation to exclusive Neighborhood Foresters learning and community events
  • Recognition and thank you gift at annual Neighborhood Foresters dinner


Tree care occurs year round, but the official season starts in spring with identifying new tree plantings and creating a plan to reduce summer mortality rates. During the season new trees will be prioritized with mulching and supplemental watering being a top priority. Groups conduct other stewardship activities such as pruning and tree inventory according to group capacity and neighborhood need. The season closes in October with a “Thank You” dinner to celebrate the Neighborhood Foresters’ impact, reflect on lessons learned, and imagine the program’s future.


  • Over 18 years of age
  • Willing to complete basic tree care training, and
  • Desire to have long-term participation and input in the program

People who don’t meet these requirements can still participate in our public events and other volunteer opportunities, they simply won’t be eligible for program benefits. Participants under 18 will not be permitted to engage in pruning activities, though they may observe and assist with related tasks identified by event organizers as deemed appropriate by their guardian.

Volunteer Application & Commitment

There is one universal application for all tree care volunteers regardless of intention to seek Neighborhood Forester status. Those who meet eligibility become full-fledged Neighborhood Foresters after participating in five volunteer events within one calendar year.

Volunteers must participate in at least five monthly Pruning Blitz events per year to remain a Neighborhood Forester in good standing.

If you have questions or would like to help organize Neighborhood Foresters, email or find us on Facebook.

Be sure to sign up for project updates!

STL TreeLC is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, tax ID #87-0997806.