Do you care about healthy forests? Apply to join this project if you are a hiker, a birder, a biker, a forager, or love to spend time with trees. 

In 2022, our volunteers are collecting leaves, twigs, and acorns from eastern white oak, Quercus alba L.

This majestic tree is native to the eastern U.S. and among the most common hardwood species in the region. Lumber shortages exacerbated by the global pandemic have driven up prices, fueling timber theft.

The U.S. Forest Service and law enforcement need data from this project to prosecute those responsible for eastern white oak theft. The data you collect will also help managers better understand and protect oak forest health as environmental conditions change.

Project Details

A large eastern white oak tree growing in Fort Loudoun State Park, TN. Photo by Peter Taylor/iNat(CC BY-NC)

Timeframe and Commitment

Sample collection runs from May 16, 2022 through December 31, 2022.

By volunteering with this project, you will commit to taking an online training (2-3 hours). Then, you set the schedule for your sample collection expeditions! Go out on day hikes during the weekend or dedicate a few days to complete your sample collections. 

We expect you to sample 10 trees during the project.

Data collection will take place on public lands (forests, refuges, reserves, parks) and private lands throughout the eastern white oak range in the US. That range stretches across 34 states in the eastern, southern, and central U.S.

Eastern white oak thrives in many habitats, from ridges to valleys, mountain flanks to lowlands. You’ll hike or walk, sometimes navigating off-trail, to find individual trees. We expect you to collect samples from at least 10 trees that are at least 100 meters apart.



Training and Equipment


All volunteers need to complete online training modules prior to getting out in the field. We offer a variety of web events, discussions, and readings to supplement the training.

The training includes information on how to find and identify eastern white oaks in addition to project context and sampling protocols.

Data collection will include taking samples of leaves, twigs, acorns, and in a few cases, tree cores. You’ll also record data using a smartphone app.

You’ll be able to register for the land parcels where you plan to collect samples.

We will ship your equipment at least one week before your anticipated start date. You will need to ship your equipment and samples back to us as soon as you finish sampling.

Sean Yam and Ellen Kirby collecting black walnut samples in the William B. Bankhead National Forest, AL. Photo by Andy Bork



As a volunteer for Timber Tracking: Eastern White Oak, we ask that you meet these general qualifications:

  • 18 years of age or older (minors are welcome to join sampling outings but asked not to lead data collection)
  • Ability to use a smartphone to collect data
  • Experience and ability to safely travel in the outdoors with at least one partner
  • Previous field data collection experience is preferred but not required

We’ll supply you with the tools and training necessary to collect samples from the forest. You are required to follow all environmental, safety, and permitting protocols.

Check out the map below of the historic native range of eastern white oak (dotted line), with public lands where we have permits for the project (green).

Blue areas indicate where current volunteers are collecting samples for the project. Gray circles indicate where samples have been collected.