Nurturing Arboriculture: Insights From Seasoned Arborists on Career Pathways and Inspiring the Next Generation

Arboriculture, the art and science of cultivating and managing trees, stands as a noble profession deeply rooted in environmental stewardship and community service. To shed light on the multifaceted nature of this field and inspire others, we turn to the experiences and wisdom of three seasoned professionals and members of Husqvarna’s H-Team: Krista Strating, Johnny Korthuis and Tobias Wygand. Through their diverse backgrounds, invaluable insights and passion for arboriculture, we gain a deeper understanding of the pathways into the field, essential skills and personas, intrinsic rewards and strategies for engaging the youth of today.

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Backgrounds and experiences

Strating’s journey into arboriculture spans nearly two decades, characterized by a blend of municipal, educational and industry roles. With 18 years under her belt, Strating serves as a municipal arborist near Toronto, overseeing tasks ranging from hazardous tree removals to street-tree pruning. Strating’s dedication extends beyond her municipal role; she is also a climbing instructor at a local college, imparting her wisdom to aspiring arborists through the apprenticeship program. Additionally, Strating’s involvement with a climbing-equipment company and a women’s tree-climbing workshop underscores her commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity within the male-dominated industry.

Krista Strating
Krista Strating

Korthuis, a certified arborist with more than two decades of experience, embarked on his arboriculture journey at a young age, drawn to the allure of tree work after witnessing arborists in action near his neighborhood in Canada. His passion for the industry led him to establish his own tree service, where he honed his skills and expertise over 17 years. Korthuis’ journey expanded beyond tree care as he delved into teaching and training roles, collaborating with industry organizations and brands. His multifaceted career encompasses speaking engagements, equipment development and international collaborations, reflecting his unwavering commitment to advancing the arboriculture profession.

Wygand’s path into arboriculture was serendipitous, born out of a desire to repurpose tree material for furniture making. Little did he know that his fascination with tree work would propel him into a 15-year career marked by continuous learning and exploration. Starting in his mid-thirties, Wygand immersed himself in the industry, initially joining a tree-service company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Wygand quickly rose through the ranks, transitioning from ground operations to crane removals and eventually pruning crews. His journey took unexpected turns, including consulting work and lead-instructor roles, affirming his adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges.

Pathways into arboriculture

The pathways into arboriculture are as diverse as the individuals who pursue them. For Strating, volunteering and community involvement served as invaluable entry points into the field, providing opportunities for hands-on learning and networking with industry professionals. As she reflects, “Volunteering at climbing competitions is a great way to gain experience and make connections within the industry.”

Korthuis emphasizes the value of formal education and practical training in arboriculture, highlighting the importance of academic credentials and industry certifications in building a successful career. “For those with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for the outdoors, academia can provide a solid foundation upon which to build a career in arboriculture,” he explains.

Wygand advocates for a proactive approach to career development, urging aspiring arborists to seize every opportunity for learning and growth within the industry. “Whether through volunteering, on-the-job training or pursuing certifications, aspiring arborists can chart their own paths to success by embracing curiosity and a willingness to learn,” he advises.

Skills and personas

Arboriculture is a field that demands a diverse skill set and a unique blend of personalities for success. Effective communication, problem-solving abilities and adaptability are paramount, as emphasized by Strating. “Our job is different every day,” she notes, underlining the need for resilience and flexibility in facing varied challenges.

In addition to interpersonal skills, arborists must possess technical expertise spanning tree biology, physiology and safety practices, as highlighted by Korthuis. “From climbing and rigging to tree health assessment and pruning techniques, arborists must possess a strong foundation in both theory and practical application,” he explains. This comprehensive knowledge base ensures that arborists can navigate complex tasks with confidence and precision.

Tobias Wygand
Tobias Wygand

Moreover, Wygand reflects on the sense of camaraderie and community within the arboriculture industry. “Arborists thrive in an environment that values teamwork and mutual support,” he observes, highlighting the importance of mentorship, collaboration and shared experiences. This collaborative spirit fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity among arborists, contributing to a supportive and enriching professional culture.

In terms of personality types, arboriculture attracts individuals with a diverse range of traits, united by a shared passion for trees and the outdoors. Resilience, adaptability, problem-solving skills and a curious mindset are key attributes that enable arborists to excel in their field, according to the H-Team members. From navigating dynamic environments to tackling complex challenges, arborists must possess a blend of analytical thinking, practical expertise and intrinsic motivation to thrive in their profession.

Overall, the H-Team members agree that the diversity of skills and personas within arboriculture contributes to a vibrant and dynamic profession dedicated to the care and preservation of trees and natural landscapes. Each arborist brings unique strengths and perspectives to the field, enriching the collective knowledge and expertise of the profession.

Finding reward in arboriculture

At the heart of arboriculture lies a profound sense of fulfillment derived from nurturing trees and fostering community, according to our three H-Team members. Krista Strating finds reward in breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of arborists, while Johnny Korthuis takes pride in mentoring and developing new leaders within the industry. Tobias Wygand finds joy in witnessing personal growth in others, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and professional development.

Johnny Korthuis
Johnny Korthuis

Inspiring the arborists of tomorrow

As ambassadors of arboriculture, Strating, Korthuis and Wygand are passionate about nurturing the next generation of tree care professionals. Through volunteering, networking and community engagement, aspiring arborists can lay the foundation for a fulfilling and rewarding career in the field. By fostering a sense of curiosity, passion and resilience, the three of them hope to inspire the arborists of tomorrow to embrace the challenges and opportunities that await them in the dynamic world of arboriculture.

As Strating notes, being an arborist entails more than just climbing trees – it encompasses roles in plant healthcare, consulting, sales and more. Korthuis emphasizes the importance of inspiring others to join the industry by showcasing its excitement and uniqueness. He encourages prospective arborists to consider their interests and personalities, as arboriculture offers a range of career paths suited to different individuals.

The experiences and insights shared by Strating, Korthuis and Wygand underscore the multifaceted nature of arboriculture and the countless opportunities it offers for personal and professional growth. As the field continues to evolve, it is essential to embrace diversity, cultivate expertise and foster a culture of lifelong learning. By doing so, arborists can help build a vibrant and sustainable future for arboriculture and inspire the next generation of tree care professionals to carry forth the legacy of stewardship and conservation.

Nathan Krois is brand manager with Husqvarna Group North America.

This article is sponsored by Husqvarna.
TCI Magazine’s Educational Sponsored Content is a sponsored feature available only to TCIA corporate members. Certain limitations apply. Contact erodewald@tcia.org for more information.

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