Stewardship of the Urban Landscape (SOUL) Tree Stewards Training

Beginning in 1996, Vermont Urban and Community Forestry began offering a course referred to as S.O.U.L Stewards training. This course is currently offered to the public with the goal of empowering citizens to become advocates of urban forests. Citizens that take the course are educated on policy, tree biology, and the principles of urban forestry, such as pruning. Additionally, this course helps to teach and develop leadership skills in the field.

The course takes place in Middlebury, VT and involves 5 weeks of face to face training with professionals in the field of forestry. Any interested citizen of Vermont that is interested in becoming a steward to the trees can enroll in the training program. The SOUL stewards training courses are a way of moving towards the ultimate conservation goal of healthy urban forests.

Project Contact: Danielle Fitzko
Project Contact Email:
Project Lifespan: 1996-present
Regional Planning Commision: None
Citizen Science, Forest Land, Outreach, Walks and Talks
Project Accomplishments:

The SOUL Stewards training is able to educate citizens on the importance of urban forests and teach them how to care for these valuable trees in an otherwise unnatural environment. Additionally, the course empowers citizens to advocate for community forests in their own communities.

Project Partners:

UVM Extension
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation
The urban forest professionals that taught the class

Critical to Success:

The success of SOUL Stewards training is largely based on the volunteers that help make the class happen through teaching and organization. Additionally, the continued engagement of citizens that are willing to take the training course in order to fix the problems that they see in their community are main supporters of the program.


The SOUL Stewards trainings produce well-educated stewards to the trees. However, after graduation from the course, Vermont Urban and Community Forestry has little available resources to help support newly educated citizens that want to make a change in their community. Therefore, helping communities implement urban forestry on the ground after completion of the SOUL course is a very large challenge.