You Can’t Just Rest on Your Laurels

“You can’t just rest on your laurels. You have to be constantly vigilant,” says Ezekiel T. Willard, owner of Idaho Tree Preservation (ITP), a 12-year TCIA member company based in Boise, Idaho. As such, he has constantly pursued more education and certifications on his mission to help improve tree care industry safety through credentialing.

man in tree
Idaho Tree Preservation climber Kevin Chapton, ISA Certified Arborist and TRAQ, and Ryan Hanson, Certified Arborist and TCIA Tree Care Specialist, rigging down a limb. All photos courtesy of Idaho Tree Preservation.

That is one reason why Willard, aka Zeke, pursued TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential. CTSP helps tree care workers and owners develop and nurture a safe work environment at their companies.

“Safety has always been a key component for ITP,” says Willard of the company he started in the early 2000s, when he moved from Seattle to Boise. He has eight field arborists – with more than 40 certifications combined – year-round, plus Nicole Steelman, “the world’s best” office manager. He also has another CTSP on staff, Chase Anderson, ITP pruning division safety manager and a TCIA Qualified Trainer (see “Chase Anderson Aims to Keep Himself and His Co-Workers Safe,” TCI Magazine, December 2022).

man head shot
Zeke Willard

Willard benefited from something he learned in the CTSP training the evening of the workshop. “I was talking to one of my staff, and I ended up using some of those concepts of how people learn and different styles of learning, which I hadn’t been aware were part of the CTSP (training),” he says.
“That has turned out to be a huge benefit for how I deal with my team and how I teach. You have to try to understand the mindset of your team, what kind of age group they are in, what kind of teaching modality is going to make the most sense to them – book learning, auditory, visual. That to me was a really big takeaway,” he says.

Safety at the forefront

“The safety part is so critical. As owners and managers, we have an ethical obligation to make safety a cornerstone of what we are doing. Even the recertification process has pushed me into looking for trainings with that focus.” In that light, Willard also recently pursued the TCIA Qualified Trainer (QT) credential.

“That is partly because I am a certification nerd, and I really see the value in these things. The QT I saw as another building block through those programs offered by TCIA. That was partly because I wanted to get into training in the industry. We need it so desperately; it’s kind of terrifying how lackadaisical the culture of safety can be in the industry. I wanted my team to be on the same page, working with the same language, and to start them off with the same modules from TCIA Ground Operations, like Chain-Saw Specialist and Chipper Specialist. From our lead climbers to our new hires, we can all be working with that same level of knowledge.”

man with ropes not rest on laurels
Zeke Willard preparing for a training climb.

Willard also is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA), an ISA Certified Tree Climber and a Certified Tree Climber Skills Evaluator. He holds his ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) credential, is Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (EHAP) certified, is an ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA) and is a past president of the Idaho Arborist Association.

Favorite tree? “Having just been out in southern Oregon, I was very impressed with the Garry oak (Quercus garryana). Everything around it is brown in the summer heat, but these trees are just beautiful and lush, and you see how well adapted they are to that area.”

For more information about the CTSP credential and upcoming workshops, visit and, under the Education tab, click on TCIA credentialing programs.

Tamsin Venn is founding publisher of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker magazine and author of the book “Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast,” and has been a contributing writer to TCI Magazine since 2011. She lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

1 Comment

  1. This is a great article and I’m proud to be a colleague of Zeke’s! His willingness to share some of his knowledge OUTSIDE of his awesome team speaks volumes to his work ethic and his belief that we can, and should, all do better.

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