ASTORIA — Queens residents will get a chance to polish their green thumbs this spring.
Nonprofit environmental group Trees New York is doling out scholarships to 25 Western Queens residents to take its Citizen Pruner Course, which teaches the ins and outs of tree care and certifies them so they can work hands-on with the trees on their own block.
"It's illegal to prune a street tree unless you have permission," said Sam Bishop, director of education with Trees New York, which offers the certification class along with the city's Parks Department.
The city relies on these certified volunteers to keep up with the maintenance of its many trees, Bishop said, saying the course usually strikes the interest of business improvement districts, neighborhood block associations or just tree-loving individuals who want to keep the greenery on their street looking great.
The scholarships are being provided by the North Star Fund's Greening Western Queens Fund, and are reserved for residents who live in areas of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside that were affected by the 2006 blackout.
For others, the five-week course costs $100 and covers topics like tree biology, tree identification, tree care and pruning. The course starts May 22 and meets at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria.