After 2020’s national restriction on live events, tree care workers and merchants were eagerly anticipating TCI EXPO ’21 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Professionals from across the U.S. reconvened to learn, trade and interact with like-minded individuals who share a passion for tree care. This event also happened to be my first TCI EXPO, granting me a unique perspective on the experience so many are already familiar with.
As a newcomer to the industry, I constantly remark upon the massive amount of accumulated knowledge in our field of work. As such, I was impressed with the presentation of relevant information at the dozens of seminars that took place throughout the event. Discussions on life-saving safety strategies, promising plant care technologies and developing workplace culture provided attendees with numerous resources for furthering their own careers. Lindsey Purcell gave an inspiring talk on “Ethical Arboriculture Practices,” providing me a new outlook on our contributions to the environment as well as our communities.
Along with these info-packed presentations were forums and live demonstrations, providing a more interactive experience. Insights into topics ranging from efficient tree-climbing techniques to accessible apprenticeship experiences were displayed and discussed by highly trained professionals. With so many educational options included in EXPO ’21, massive amounts of seemingly dense information were distilled into palatable lessons for any type of pupil.
The information and education provided at TCI EXPO left little to be desired, but there remains one key aspect to be acknowledged. The people! It was truly inspiring to meet a cohort with the sole purpose of developing its trade to the utmost of its ability. Arborists from across the country gathered to share stories, techniques and aspirations with their fellow counterparts. I was able to learn from this collected mass of experience as much as, if not more than, from informational seminars. Without the physical presence cultivated by live events, I believe certain qualities are simply lost when considering virtual alternatives.
My expectations were moderately high prior to attending TCI EXPO. I anticipated a simple congregation of professionals with the desire to share their accumulated experience. It wasn’t until attending the event that I realized the larger picture behind it. At the conference, careers were invigorated, skills were refined and bonds were built that would span the country. Utilizing this event, TCIA effectively brought the field of arboriculture together and helped define what the future holds for businesses, workers and communities alike.
Andrew Wintergerst is a registered arborist apprentice with We Love Trees, a three-year TCIA member company based in Niwot, Colorado. He wrote this column in November 2021, immediately on the heels of the event. Andrew is planning to be at TCI EXPO ’22 in Charlotte, North Carolina, this November.