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Explore opportunities for adults and youth to learn more about trees and tree care.


These are great courses for master gardeners, master naturalists, municipal employees, tree care companies, future volunteers, or anyone looking to learn more about trees! With two course options available to them, individuals who complete these courses serve as volunteer leaders for our Heartland Tree Alliance planting and pruning workdays, providing an invaluable benefit to grow and ensure a healthy urban forest in the greater Kansas City area!



Our youth curriculum engages students with the natural world and imparts the incredible benefits of trees. We aim to inspire responsible environmental stewards and encourage students to be active outdoors while learning to care for the plants, animals, and people that share our world. The curriculum incites critical thinking and inquiry by coupling practice with content, which is in line with the Next Generation Science Standards.





The goal of Tree Keepers is to provide a corps of trained volunteers as a resource for local municipalities, school districts, and neighbor associations in our region. Tree keepers lead tree planting, pruning, and maintenance projects in our communities.

Check back for information on our fall 2024 class!


Course Overview

It has been said that it requires five years to plant a tree: one hour to actually plant it, and the remainder of the time to ensure that it becomes properly established. Research has shown that the average street tree lives less than ten years due to the harsh conditions of the urban environment.

While local municipalities are responsible for the preservation, protection and maintenance of all city trees, economic realities have limited the ability of some communities to provide adequate attention to young trees. Small and newly planted trees have the highest mortality rate and therefore need the most help; committed TreeKeepers are able to address these needs.

TreeKeepers receive training in environmental awareness and basic arboricultural principles. Through twelve hours of classroom time and six hours of outdoor training, participants learn about tree identification, site suitability, proper planting techniques, after planting care and pruning. Upon completion of the course, TreeKeepers are asked to give 24 hours of volunteer time to the Heartland Tree Alliance for municipal tree care projects around the Kansas City metropolitan region (it is not required to volunteer, although we highly recommend it). If you miss a class during the training, you can make it up at a later date!

Class Description

The Urban Forest – an intro to trees and identification
Participants will learn about the social, environmental and economic benefits trees provide. The class will also give an introduction to tree identification, including leaf shape and arrangements and other characteristics used to identify trees. Participants will also learn about reference books and how to use a tree identification key and get hands-on practice using the key in the field. The class includes an introduction to how people can become advocates for the community forest. Upon completing this class, participants will:

  • Understand the benefits of trees.
  • Understand how to use a tree identification key.
  • Understand tree identification characteristics, including leaf shape and arrangements, twigs, fruit, bark and form.
  • Understand the various ways to advocate for the community forest.

Urban Soils and Basic Tree Biology
Participants will learn about soils, their function, physical properties, pH, and essential elements in soils. They also learn the basic parts of the tree and their function, as well as their role in the health and survival of trees. The course includes information on biological processes in trees. Upon completing this class, participants will:

  • Understand the function and formation of soil.
  • Understand the properties and components of soil and the impact they have on tree growth.
  • Understand pH and the role it plays in nutrient availability.
  • Understand fertilizers and how they relate to soil.
  • Understand parts of a tree and their role in the health and survival of trees.
  • Understand photosynthesis and other basic tree processes.
  • Understand how trees respond to injury

Tree Planting (includes outdoor session)
Participants will learn why trees struggle in an urban environment. Participants will also learn about site characteristics and how to select the right species of tree for the right location. Proper planting techniques will be covered, as well as information on watering, mulching, fertilizing, and staking. This workshop includes an outdoor session where participants will get hand-on experience planting a tree. Upon completing this class, participants will:

  • Understand the impact the urban environment has on trees.
  • Understand site characteristics and how to select the right tree for the right location.
  • Understand proper planting technique.
  • Understand proper watering, mulching, and staking technique.
  • Understand when trees need watered and staked.

Tree Pruning (includes outdoor session)
Participants will learn about proper tree pruning technique. This class will also cover the appropriate times to prune and the tools you should use. This session includes an outdoor session where participants will get hands-on experience pruning trees. Upon completing this class, participants will:

  • Understand proper pruning technique.
  • Understand when it is appropriate to prune.
  • Understand the tools to use when pruning and the safe way to use them.

Tree Problems
Participants will learn about the various insects and diseases that affect trees. This class also covers hazard trees from an informational standpoint only, understanding that hazard trees can only be identified by a professional. Upon completing this class, participants will:

  • Understand the various diseases that affect trees.
  • Understand the various insects that affect trees.
  • Understand to whom you should report tree problems.

Field Days
In addition to classroom instruction, the Tree ID and Pruning classes have two Saturday outdoor field sessions for hands-on learning. Classes are taught by trained, certified and experienced foresters and arborists, including staff members from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Kansas Forest Service, the Extension services of the University of Missouri and Kansas State University, local counties and municipalities and local tree care services.

Although it presents a great deal of in depth information, Tree Keepers is not intended to be a substitute for professional certification. Graduates are asked to volunteer 24 hours to HTA, primarily in the care for young trees on public property in the Kansas City region. Those who donate 24 hours become designated as Tree Stewards.



This course will train participants on proper shade and ornamental tree pruning. It stands as a prerequisite for volunteers that would like to participate in tree pruning workdays throughout the metro or for anyone looking to learn more about proper pruning techniques. Fruit tree pruning will not be discussed.

Check back for information on our fall 2024 class!


Course Overview

Heartland Tree Alliance is offering a new 2-hour course on basic tree pruning skills for shade and ornamental trees. Participants will learn through hands-on training and instruction about proper pruning tools, basic tree biology, types of pruning cuts, and how to make a proper cut. Space is limited to keep the teacher to student ratio low. All participants will receive a “How to Prune Trees” booklet from the US Forest Service to take home. All tools for the course are provided.



Designed for 1st through 8th grade classrooms. Four separate lessons may be conducted for each grade level: Community Benefits of Trees, Champion Trees as an Introduction to Citizen Science, Ecosystem Connections, and Creative Responses to Trees. We recommend scheduling lessons in order.




A flexible program outside the conventional classroom (i.e. for girl scouts, boy scouts, after school programs, home school programs). Please send us an email and let us know what your needs are in regards to educational programming exploring trees.

Contact Joe Wheelock, Heartland Tree Alliance Program Manager, at to schedule your classroom visit.



Explore a local Kansas City ecological gem with the guidance of this booklet. Simply print double-sided and fold all of the pages simultaneously so the cover is facing out, and all the page numbers should then be in order. Voila! You have a booklet to guide your journey through Rocky Point Glades – a sensitive and important habitat for many native plants and animals. Girl Scouts – completion of this booklet satisfies steps 1 & 2 of the Tree Badge.