Roanoke’s tree stewards looking for more volunteers

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:19 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Life lessons come from many unexpected places.

But they’re all around us, kind of like how trees just sort of hug the greenway.

Harry Van Guilder spends a lot of time with trees.

As one of Roanoke’s tree stewards, it’s part of his job description, even though he’s not compensated other than in gratitude. The group got its start in 2009 after the recession. The city’s urban forester lost half his budget and half his staff, and needed help.

Across the state there are ten of these groups, but Roanoke’s is hoping to get a few more hands.

“We concentrate on the smaller trees, and the things we can do from the ground with no power tools, just hand tools," said Van Guilder.

With the pandemic, there haven’t been many work days; they just resumed in July.

That means the work that gets done is needed that much more.

“And not even having a budget to buy trees to plant, and the city loses approximately 250 trees per year, due to storm damage, disease, age and accidents," said Van Guilder.

Van Guilder hopes to plant 100 new trees between now and next spring. The money for the trees will come from the stewards' non-profit.

And whether he’s pruning or planting, he knows the service is making a difference.

“I leave feeling good every time. Regardless of the weather!"

But a pretty day certainly makes the work even more rewarding.

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