Community Forestry

Holden Forests & Gardens envisions a Northeast Ohio where trees, forests and gardens provide maximum ecological and social benefits to the region’s people and communities. To help achieve this vision, the Arboretum employs a full-time community forester, who serves as a resource for the community.

Meet Our Community Forester – Courtney Blashka

Courtney Blashka, Holden's Community ForesterCourtney Blashka joined the staff of Holden Forests & Gardens in July 2017 as a Tree Care Coordinator and was recently promoted to Community Forester. She brings more than 20 years of experience in municipal and community forestry in the private and public sectors, and comprehensive experience in all aspects of tree management.

Paul Spector, vice president for community outreach, announced the appointment in November.  “Courtney was already a valued member of our outreach team, serving as our tree care coordinator, said Paul Spector, vice president for community outreach. “As a certified arborist, with experience working with municipalities as well as in the private sector, she is extremely qualified to continue Holden’s efforts to help reverse the decline of Cleveland’s tree canopy and serve as a resource for communities in Northeast Ohio. Her willingness to take on the role of community forester will allow Holden to continue to build on the partnerships we have already forged in the greater Cleveland community, and to continue to expand our work on the Cleveland Tree Plan.”

Blashka earned her bachelor’s degree in conservation from Kent State University and is an ISA Certified Arborist, an ISA Municipal Specialist and an ISA Utility Specialist with Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ). Prior to coming to Holden, she served as the Urban Forestry Project Manager with the City of Palo Alto, California. Her experience includes work as the City Arborist & GIS Coordinator for the City of Aurora, Ohio and Senior Urban Forester with the Davey Tree Expert Company in Kent, Ohio.

She looks forward to building on the work that has been done so far with a variety of organizations in the region.  “Our partnerships with community organizations are absolutely critical to fulfilling Holden Forests & Gardens’ vision of fostering sustainable, vibrant green communities in the Great Lakes region,” Blashka said. “The size of the task at hand is way too immense for any one organization to tackle on its own, so we need to tap into the knowledge and resources of these vital partners to make it happen.”

Getting out into the communities in Northeast Ohio and connecting with area residents to help improve the quality of our region’s tree canopy is a priority, Blashka said.

“Nothing is more satisfying than seeing the look on peoples’ faces when they come to fully understand the social, economic and environmental benefits of trees, and experience the transformative effects of reforestation efforts in their community,” she said. “Of course, I’m also looking forward to learning from the brilliant staff and passionate volunteers at Holden Forests & Gardens.”

Community Outreach and Engagement

Holden is a resource for municipalities, institutions and organizations interested in creating greener communities. We can help create plans to improve tree health care and management practices, which in turn will enhance the beauty and livability of Northeast Ohio.

  • Urban Forest Workshops – seasonal workshops assist communities with urban and community forest planning and management, including tree inventory and planting plans, tree ordinances and urban forest assessments.
  • Youth Education – tree-focused education is a vital component of youth and workforce development. Outreach is available to communities in need of tree-focused curriculum and programming.
  • Holden Arborcare Volunteer Program – community forestry is focused on engaging people and trees to create sustainable communities. Holden’s tree trained volunteers can assist with a variety of projects.

Reforesting the Forest City

Holden Forests and Gardens is one of a number of organizations and companies working with the City of Cleveland to restore the communities declining tree canopy. Learn more about the Cleveland Tree Plan. 

Planting new trees in the city is just part of the effort. Those trees need care. Holden Forests & Gardens and Western Reserve Land Conservancy have partnered to provide Sherwick Tree Steward Trainings where citizens learn how to plant, care for and maintain trees. Training residents to maintain existing and newly planted trees is critical to the success of the Cleveland Tree Plan and our collective reforestation work. Together we can reforest the Forest City!

Learn more about Tree Steward Training.

Home Owner Outreach and Engagement

The Arboretum serves as a resource for homeowners, providing them with the resources to make sound choices when it comes to tree selection and care.

  • Species selections lists – appropriate species selection is essential to ensure trees are well sited and thriving to maximize benefits. Lists and resources are available to guide that process
  • Working Woods – the majority of woodland in Ohio is privately held. The Arboretum’s Working Woods provides homeowners with an opportunity to interact and learn about best management practices.
  • Plant health care – trees and woody plants in your yard require proper care. Holden can provide plant health care resources and and tree information services.

Holden Workshops and Classes

Throughout the year, the Arboretum hosts a number of different programs, workshops and classes, designed to teach best practices when it comes to home tree care. To see upcoming classes, visit our online program calendar. 

  • Tree pruning – the best and worst thing someone can do to a tree is pruning. Annual classes are held to teach basic principles and workshops are available upon request.
  • Tree planting – the simple act of planting a tree is not so simple. Learn how to properly site a tree so that it reaches its full potential. Inquire about specific site assessment and techniques to inform planting.
  • Industry standard tree care – Quality care is essential to ensure trees remain assets for the community and not liabilities. Learn about industry standards for tree care and the specific activities they encompass.

How to Plant a Tree – Video

How to Prune a Tree – Video


Additional Resources

Urban Tree Selection Guide – a guide to trees identified in the Cleveland Tree Plan, which were selected by Holden Forests & Gardens plant records curator and plant collections curator. Species were selected to with consideration to future climate changes conditions, as well as being able to tolerate urban conditions, including compaction, drought, pollution and salt.

Landscaping for Biodiversity with Ohio Native Plants – Cleveland Metroparks’ species guide for planting, which includes information on trees, shrubs, vines, ferns and grasses, sedges and rushes.

Landscape Plant Information – great information on landscape plants from Edward Gillman, PhD, professor of Urban Trees & Landscape Plants at the University of Florida

For more information on the Arboretum’s Community Forestry program, contact Courtney Blashka at 440.602.3843 or by email at