By M.K. Luther -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Front Royal-Warren County Tree Stewards will continue their arbor education efforts this year by hosting a series of tree-related courses starting later this month.
The Front Royal-Warren County Tree Stewards, a local nonprofit group of volunteers started in 1997, presents the courses annually. They focus on the identification and proper care and maintenance of trees, as well as how to spot tree growth trends and tree ailments.
The group has been instrumental in working with the town on several beautification projects, as well as the planning and development of the Royal Shenandoah Greenway, a multi-use path that will link the town to outlying public schools and parks, said volunteer coordinator Herb Rinehart.
Rinehart first became involved with the group nine years ago when he and his wife enrolled in the course series after learning the hard way the disastrous effects of improper tree-topping.
"You see a lot of it in Front Royal," Rinehart said, explaining that poor tree-topping is a common and well-intentioned mistake made by many gardeners that leads to unhealthy branch systems and growth patterns. When a tree is not topped correctly, the results can be costly repair and removal, Rinehart said.
"People who do that kind of topping off are almost taking money from other people's pockets," he said.
This year, the tree courses will include hands-on training for planting and pruning and trips to Fort Valley Nursery and the Virginia State Arboretum at Blandy Farm in Boyce.
"If people have an interest in trees, this is a good basic course to come and learn the basic techniques for caring for trees," Rinehart said.
The course can also count toward continuing education credits for those who are already certified arborists with the International Arboriculture Society, Rinehart said. Once the course is completed, students are encouraged to revisit tree issues at future sessions.
"People can come back for a refresher course and it doesn't cost a penny," Rinehart said.
The courses will run for seven Tuesdays, starting Sept. 15, from 6:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. and will meet at the Warren County Government Center. Saturday sessions will meet from 9 a.m. to noon. The cost for enrolling in the entire series is $50, including the course instruction manual, or $7 per class if taken individually.
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