Become a Canopy-Certified Community Forester!

In California, 80% of the population lives in urban areas, making trees a vital part of daily life in cities.  Trees are key to environmental justice, improved quality of life, and public health — yet our urban trees are under compounding threats from development, budgetary pressures, and global climate change.  Now more than ever, we must come together to preserve and renew our urban forests.

This 9-week course will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and training you need to take action in your community right away. As a Community Forestry School graduate, you will be equipped to identify trees, plant and prune effectively, explain the value of the urban forest to others, and advocate for trees in your community.

2024 Course Details

Online Zoom classes: Wednesdays, February 21 through April 17, 2024, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Outdoor field experiences:

  • Saturday, March 16 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (site assessment workshop in Palo Alto, either Greenmeadow or Kavanaugh neighborhood)
  • Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (planting practice in south Palo Alto, exact location TBD)
  • Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (pruning practice, location TBD)

Cost: FREE

Class size: 30 students max

Recommended reading: A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us by Matt Ritter

Este curso será en inglés, con subtítulos disponibles en inglés y español mediante un servicio de traducción automática. Si desea asistir y necesita traducciones, envíe un correo electrónico [email protected].

This course will be in English, with closed captioning available in English and Spanish using an auto-translate service. If you want to attend and require translations, please email [email protected].

Certification Requirements

  • Attend at least 8 out of 9 classes on Wednesdays
  • Participate in all three outdoor field experiences
  • Volunteer at least 15 hours with Canopy by the end of May 2025
  • Maintain certification by volunteering at least 15 hours per year with Canopy or other community forestry groups

How to Enroll

Applications for the 2024 session are now closed. Email Canopy’s Education Director, Allison Bell, at [email protected] with any questions.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability and CAL FIRE Urban & Community Forestry Program.

To support community forestry efforts and education like Community Forestry School, consider a gift to Canopy. Donate here.

Santa Clara County logo  CAL FIRE logo 



Testimonials from past Canopy Community Forestry School graduates:

“After attending this Community Forester program, I feel that I am in a position to truly affect the growth and the health of our urban forest. The logical progression from basic knowledge to a hands-on application to continued action seems to be a grand approach to helping our community grow in the right direction!”

“The class is informative and brings in guest lecturers with local talent and experience. I find the course informative, relevant, and interesting.”

From California ReLeaf, a statewide organization that supports California’s urban and community forests through grassroots efforts and strategic partnerships:

“Canopy’s Community Forestry School delivers high-quality training on important urban forest topics from tree planting and maintenance to community advocacy — engaging volunteers to steward and speak for trees in their communities. Their educational programs have been inspiring and helpful to other urban forest community groups — whether just starting out in this work or seasoned nonprofits.” – Cindy Blain, Executive Director of California ReLeaf


2024 Course Schedule

Week 1: Intro to Community Forestry

Wednesday, February 21 | 6:30-8:30 PM

The collection of trees in a city is called an urban forest, but what exactly is an urban forest and what does it do for us? Learn about the benefits of trees, urban forestry, and the importance of community action to steward and speak for the trees.

Week 2: Tree Biology & Identification

Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Understanding how trees grow and function is helpful for understanding how to plant and care for them. It is also important to be able to identify trees to gain a first-hand knowledge of the composition of an urban forest. This class will provide you with basic knowledge to prepare you for the rest of the course.

Week 3: Species Selection

Wednesday, March 6 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Selecting the right tree for the right place is essential for the long-term health of an urban forest, but what trees should we plant and where do we plant them? Learn how Canopy selects species and specimens, and why re-oaking is a valuable way to make our landscapes more resilient for the future.

Week 4: Site Assessments

Wednesday, March 13 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Learn how Canopy Arborists conduct site assessments at properties throughout the Midpeninsula. This class will dive deeper into tree selection and placement, local policies that impact where trees can be planted, and how you can make site assessments for yourself and your neighbors.

Week 5: Tree Planting Basics

Wednesday, March 20 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Proper tree planting methods are important for the establishment and survival of trees in an urban landscape. This class will prepare you to plant a tree at your own home, or at local schools, parks, and neighborhoods through Canopy’s planting events.

Week 6: Tree Care & Health Assessment

Wednesday, March 27 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Throughout their lives, trees experience changes to their rooting environment, abnormal precipitation levels, invading insects and pathogens, and much more. Learn the best practices for early tree care, how to assess the health of trees, and when to call an arborist.

Week 7: Young Tree Pruning

Wednesday, April 3 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Pruning trees during their first few years is critical to long-term health and vitality. In this class, you will learn the art, science, and skill of pruning young trees for good structure and longevity.

Week 8: Advocacy & Review

Wednesday, April 10 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Our urban forests face many threats from development, pests and diseases, global climate change, and lack of funding and public awareness. Learn about urban forestry, city government, and local urban forest advocacy issues from folks who have been doing this for years, and find out how to take action in your community.

Week 9: Graduation Celebration

Wednesday, April 17 | 6:30-8:30 PM

Come to this in-person congratulatory event to celebrate your graduation with Canopy staff and your fellow students!