Happy Arbor Day!
Written by Leah Kelm, Executive Assistant
Arbor Day was founded back in 1872 by an avid tree lover named J. Sterling Morton.
What exactly is Arbor Day? Well, it is the day countries around the world set aside to plant and maintain trees. I know that might not sound like an exhilarating holiday, but who doesn’t like a day dedicated to something that increases property value and air quality?
And since it is Arbor Day, I thought interviewing an arborist would be rather fitting. The state of North Dakota has only 14 ISA Certified Arborists registered on their online database, so my choice of who to interview was rather limited. Thankfully, 1 of these 14 has a desk about 10 feet away from mine.
Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification and adhere to a Code of Ethics. Therefore, they are more likely to be up to date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.
Becoming an Arborist
Brad Bateman had already been maintaining and planting trees at All-Terrain for four years, before he decided to take the necessary steps to become an arborist. His instructor during one of his Master Gardener classes suggested he take up studying arboriculture — Brad, the overachiever, is a Master Gardener too.
Among the instructor’s suggestion, appeal of career advancement, parental encouragement, and thought of bettering himself, Brad decided to give becoming an ISA Certified Arborist a shot. It’s reasonable to think that prior hands-on knowledge of tree care would have made the three hour, multiple choice certification exam easy for Brad, but that was definitely not the case. When I asked him about the level of difficulty he replied, “It was super hard. It is the International Society of Arboriculture, so the questions dealt with trees from all over the world.” The exam preparation required weeks of studying note-cards, but it was worth the struggle.
Being an Arborist
Today Brad, Fargo’s lawn care industry’s only ISA Certified Arborist, is most commonly asked “Why is my tree dying?” and “Why did you make that cut?”, and because he furthered his education he can now confidently answer both of those questions.
The knowledge he gained from becoming an arborist allows him to maintain trees correctly, and hopefully help reverse the damage caused by those untrained few that attempt to maintain their trees themselves.
Brad’s busiest time of the year is from the middle of March through early April, because most customers prefer spring tree pruning over fall tree pruning. He stays busy throughout the summer as well, and his season does not begin to slow down until October.
So, what exactly does an arborist do during the season?
- Plants Trees – Selecting a tree species to plant is based on more than aesthetics. Climate and terrain are considered before a hole is dug for a tree to take root.
- Prunes Trees – Pruning is the process of removing weak, dead, or diseased branches with strategic and precise cuts in an effort to improve form and reduce risk.
- Diagnoses Trees – When a tree is damaged or stressed an arborist first identifies the tree, then identifies if the problems are threatening to the health of the tree or if are purely cosmetic, and finally evaluates the possible options to resolve the situation.
- Performs Risk Assessments – A tree risk assessment is a standardized process of identifying defects and conditions that could be potentially dangerous to property, people, or the tree itself.
I asked Brad what the most enjoyable part of his job is, and he replied, “I like planting trees, I enjoy trying to diagnose why trees are stressed, but by far my favorite part is pruning trees. It is almost an art form to me, and I love it.”
Brad is knowledgeable about arboriculture, has an appreciation for the industry, and produces a quality of work that shows his passion. He is reputable, and between working with him for the past 7 months and interviewing him this week, it is quite evident that he enjoys being an arborist.
Through All-Terrain’s Give Back Program, this year Brad donated two trees to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Enhancement Fund in honor of his two grandfather’s that have passed away.
Even though he would rather read blogs about sports and popular culture in his free time, he does read tree blogs to stay current on information.
Brad always has to listen to the Jack’s Mannequin Pandora Station while pruning trees.