A View of Seattle from Dr Jose Rizal Bridge.
Become a tree steward
Stewardship careful & responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. -Merriam Webster
Support the Master Gardener Program

Throughout this site there are links to documents of various file types.
Please contact our Statewide Program Leader if you require this information in a different format.

Urban & Community Tree Stewardship Online Course

Course Overview

There are many known benefits of trees in urban and community landscapes from increased property values to increased health and wellbeing. The intention of this course is to provide knowledge to Extension Master Gardeners, landscape professionals, municipal landscape employees, and interested members of the public in the proper selection, placement, and care of trees in the community.

There are six (6) Modules that include several PowerPoint Presentations, all with voice recording that follows a printable manuscript document. Upon completion of all Modules, and evidence of at least one (1) in-the-field seminar/workshop, a WSU Certificate of Completion will be awarded.

The certificate will provide evidence you have completed the WSU Urban & Community Tree Stewardship Online Training. It can be listed on a job resume, earn Extension Master Gardener Continuing Education Credits, or International Society of Arboriculture recertification credits (post-course). This certificate can increase credibility and confidence to speak about the benefits of healthy urban and community trees, provide guidance on best management practices, and enhance your skill level of tree care practices.

Course Goals

This course consists of six core training modules that cover topics important to tree care and maintenance in urban and community areas. The module goals are outlined below along with the learning outcomes.

Goals Objectives/Outcome
Module 1 Introduction
1. Be aware of the different people that this course is designed for.
2. Understand the benefits of volunteering.
3. Understand the benefits of urban and community trees.
1. List 3 different groups of people that might take this course.
2. List 2 benefits of volunteering.
3. List 4 benefits of trees in the landscape.
Module 2 Tree Biology
1. Understand tree origin and classification system.
2. Understand tree organ systems and function.
3. Understand how trees make food and use it for energy.
4. Understand the role of plant hormones if life processes.
5. Understand how plants recover from injury.
1. Differentiate groups of trees from each other.
2. Identify tree parts and their role in supporting tree health.
3. Explain the basics of photosynthesis and respiration.
4. Identify the effects of plant hormones.
5. Explain CODIT.
Module 3 Site Evaluation and Tree Selection
1. Understand basic soils including structure, texture, and horizons.
2. Know role of organic soil components.
3. Differentiate good/poor soil quality.
4. Understand how water moves through soils
5. Understand pH, CEC, bulk density, and soil fertility
6. Understand factors that influence tree selection.
7. Know importance of matching tree species to site.
8. Understand pros/cons of using native trees in urban areas.
1. Identify different soil types and characteristics.
2. Explain the role of organic matter in soil.
3. Explain the impact of soil quality on trees. 
4. Explain how water moves through soil.
5. Explain how water and nutrients are held in soil.
6. Describe what it takes to perform a site inventory.
7. Identify resources for matching tree species to site.
8. Describe where native species installation would be appropriate.
Module 4 Nursery Production Practices and Tree Installation
1. Understand the different types of nursery stock as well as pros & cons of each type. 
2. Review the major genera of trees grown throughout the state. 
3. Understand what to look for in selecting quality nursery stock for planting.
4. Understand the current recommended practices for planting a tree correctly.
5. Understand the problems of poor quality nursery stock.
6. Understand how to properly stake a newly planted tree.
7. Understand different types of mulch material.
8. Understand general strategies to increase quality soil volume. 
1. Define the production types and give pros/cons of each. 
2. List four of the major genera of trees found in Washington State.
3. Recognize root problems that will lead to problems after planting. 
4. Describe how to properly plant a tree.
5. List four issues to look for during inspection of nursery stock.
6. Describe when and how to properly stake a newly planted tree.
7. List 3 different types of mulch material.
8. Describe 4 useful strategies for increasing soil volume in areas of restricted space.
Module 5 Pruning 
1. Understand pruning objectives – why trees need to be pruned.
2. Understand how branches are attached to trees. 
3. Understand the 3-cut pruning method.
4. Understand different pruning types or strategies.
5. Understand which pruning tool to use for the job.
1. List 4 pruning objectives.
2. Describe components of branch anatomy.
3. Describe the 3-cut pruning method. 
4. Describe 4 different pruning types or strategies. 
5. List 4 different pruning tools and the type of pruning job they are used for.
Module 6 Tree Care Practices
1. Understand the factors that influence the need for supplemental irrigation.
2. Understand soil fertility and the need for soil testing.
3. Understand the steps used to diagnosis a plant problem.
4. Understand the difference between a sign and symptom in plant diagnosis.
5. Understand the difference between biotic and abiotic.
6. Understand a hazard tree. 
1. Name 3 factors that influence the need for supplemental irrigation.
2. Describe how to take a soil test.
3. Describe the diagnostic process. 
4. Define a sign and a symptom in plant diagnosis.
5. Define biotic and abiotic.
6. Describe what must be present for a tree to be considered a hazard tree.

There are three (3) items that must be done to complete the course and receive the WSU Certificate of Completion:

  • All six Module quizzes must be passed with 80% or higher grade within a year of starting the course.
  • At least one on-site workshop or seminar must be attended within the year with the specific program information entered at the end of the course.
  • An evaluation of the course must be completed. When these three items have been completed the certificate will be awarded to the student and can be printed off.

This course can be started any time of year but must be completed within one year of beginning the course.  It is self-paced, but has adaptive release, so students can only move on to subsequent modules once they pass the previous module with an 80% or higher grade on the module quiz. The quizzes can be taken as many times as needed to get a passing grade.  Visit Summary – Urban & Community Tree Stewardship (cvent.com) to register.

There is no instructor interaction in this course. A contact email is listed in the ‘Comment Box’ that lists current on-site workshops and seminars. This contact can be used if there are questions regarding the programs listed for the in-person, on-site requirement needed to complete this course.
For technical support, navigate to the Course Information item on the main navigation menu.

Funds for this project were provided by the USDA Forest Service and Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program.
The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.