Tell, Show, Do Is CTSP’s Biggest Takeaway

PHC safety training
Bomber at the controls during PHC safety training.

What was it like for Nick Bomber, district manager for SavATree in Michigan, to be in the first class of tree professionals to earn TCIA’s new Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential in 2006?

“I was really proud of getting the CTSP and being part of that first group that came through, understanding its importance. Maintaining that certification and raising the bar within the industry was exciting to be part of,” says Bomber.

He has maintained the certificate for the past 17 years.

How did he start out? “The industry found me. I was driving down the road and needed a job, saw an ad for tree-climber trainee, and I thought, ‘I’m a trainee…, I could do that job.’ One thing led to another, and that job turned into a career.”

Having the CTSP credential provided a professional boost. Not long after earning the credential, Bomber applied for a job as an operations manager in the Springfield, Virginia, office of SavATree, an accredited, 37-year TCIA member company based in Bedford Hills, New York. SavATree was pursuing its TCIA Accreditation at that time and needed a CTSP in each of its branch offices. Bomber was hired, and has been with them since 2007.

Certification requirements

The CTSP credential is intended to help arborists and company owners develop and nurture a safe work environment at their companies. Unlike some certifications, the CTSP asks for more than just going to a class and hearing someone speak, says Bomber. It requires leading a tailgate or other training session, presenting at a conference or, important to Bomber, developing programs that play a role in keeping people safe.

Nick Bomber
Nick Bomber

One example is an emerald ash borer working-standard program he and others at SavATree developed. “The emerald ash borer makes trees brittle and hard to work with. We had to put some standards around that type of work to better serve our clients and keep our team members safe while working on those trees,” he says.

Recently, he developed a hazard-tree working standard for the company, which earned him 30 continuing education units (CEUs) for his CTSP credential. He mentions the CEUs, he says, because it demonstrates the ongoing effort that goes into maintaining the certification.

Regarding plant health care, “You definitely apply the lessons from CTSP in any service line,” he says. One example relates to spill-response procedures for hazardous materials. “Obviously, prevention is the first line of defense against spills. This means teaching the team, using adult-learning techniques, to make sure to focus on proper storage, handling, mixing, filling and equipment maintenance to prevent spills from occurring.

Tell, show, do

“‘Tell, show, do’ is something you can apply to many different topics,” says Bomber. “It is a method that incorporates a variety of different training techniques to create effective, engaging learning experiences that match the way we all learn.

“If you actively tell them how to handle a spill, then you demonstrate how to handle a spill, then have the team control, contain and clean up a mock spill in the shop, this will keep them engaged and prepare them for when those situations arise in the field. For me, it’s how you teach the topics. It doesn’t matter the service line or the topic, it is about your performance,” he says.

aerial-rescue training
Bomber, far right, leading aerial-rescue training. All photos courtesy of Nick Bomber.

Broad applications

CTSP lessons even apply to football coaching.
“Before I got my CTSP, I was a football coach, and I believe there is crossover from sports into business. Surprisingly, coaching was very much aligned with CTSP practices. You have a group of individuals who need to be guided, motivated and inspired, and how you communicate with them is important. Go through how people learn, and learn differently. You learn that maybe you aren’t connecting with certain individuals, that maybe you need to communicate a different way, and you alter your style,” he says.

Bomber says he gets great satisfaction in encouraging others to become CTSPs, getting them through the program and seeing how they can elevate their game, their professionalism and their credentials.
“I try to be an ambassador and see the benefit personally and professionally. I appreciate the certificate now more than earlier on. When you oversee a group of people, it is your job to provide an environment that allows them to have a great experience at work, then get them home to their loved ones.

“It is not easy driving a safety program each day, but it’s our job. You can’t go into being a CTSP thinking it’s easy, because it’s not easy, and for good reason; things that are easy are not transformative.”

For more information on the CTSP credential and upcoming workshops, go to Or, in the digital version of this issue, click here.

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.

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