Column: Working as an arborist. How was it?

There are a lot of different tools for tree climbing.

My first job on campus was on the grounds crew. When I had an interview with my future boss, he asked me, “Do you like rock climbing? If so, this is a good job for you.” I was surprised by this question. I liked rock climbing, but I never thought I could use such a skill as a part of my job. Then, I was hired as an arborist for the grounds crew on campus.

All the duties that I had were related to tree care. Due to this work, I learned how to prune the trees and shrubs, how to climb the trees and more. However, it took me a lot of practice to develop all the necessary skills to start helping others learn how to do this.

The first time I saw my boss climbing the tree like a deft panther, I was impressed and shocked at the same time. The only thought I had was how I would never do something like this. I thought I was not strong enough, or I would get tangled using the rope one day.

This job had a lot of physical activity, and I was the only girl on the team at that time. I wanted to work on the same level with the guys, but sometimes it was actually hard for me.

My first tree-climbing lessons were terrible. It was extremely challenging to lift myself with the ropes. My boss assisted me and pulled the rope with me. I was exhausted after the training, and I thought that this job was not for me. Nevertheless, my boss believed in me, and I started to work even harder.

After a couple of weeks, I saw the progress. I understood how the climbing gear worked, and it became easier to work with the trees. I was so proud of myself because due to my hard work, I got some good results.

A few months later, I could climb the tree for a few minutes. I was already unafraid to work with big and tall trees. The challenge I began facing was finding trees that would be harder to climb.

In addition to learning how to climb the trees, I needed to understand how to trim them. Every tree has its own architecture, and that is important in understanding which branches should be removed. It is easy to hurt the tree with wrong cuts. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to prune the branches and how to work with different types of trees.

From the first view, it may not seem like a difficult task: Just climb the trees and remove unnecessary branches. However, there are a lot of tricks that every arborist should know in order to take care of the tree properly.

In addition to pruning the trees, we did tree removal. I would say that was the hardest part. Sometimes the trees were about the height of a seven-story building. It could take us a few days to completely remove such a tree. Then I learned how to use a chainsaw.

That was a weird experience for me as a girl. I was afraid of working with the chainsaw, but my boss never pushed me to do this. After a while, I overcame my fear, and I worked with this mechanism a couple of times. At least I got some basic knowledge of how to operate the chainsaw.

There were a lot of other tools that we were working with. Every day we needed to do something with the cut branches. So I learned how to work with the wood chipper that converts big wood stuff into small pieces.

I have been working as an arborist for about eight months, and I’ve obtained such a huge variety of skills. It was hard for me to believe that I could learn how to do so many things just being a student on campus.

It was a hard job. There was a lot of physical work. Now, I feel such respect and admiration when I see other people doing the same things that I experienced earlier.

In spite of various difficulties, we had a lot of fun. Tree climbing is an interesting and entertaining activity. Once my boss said, “You don’t need to go to the gym if you do tree climbing.” I can allege that during that time, I had the best training in my life.

That was not scary to hang even upside down
It was not scary to hang even upside down.

I got a priceless experience while I was working on the grounds crew, and I cannot even count all the new skills and pieces of knowledge that I obtained. I feel really proud because, in addition to learning, I was able to teach new members of the team from my own experience.

Being an arborist is not only about taking care of trees. This job is about endurance, strength, having a flexible mind and readiness to help others.