The Utility Arborist Association (UAA) is active in all forms of utility arboriculture education. According to UAA Executive Director Derek Vannice, the UAA now conducts six to eight UAA regional meetings throughout the United States every year. The topics are designed for field personnel in Utility Arborist industry. The meetings are designed to be cost effective, in convenient locations, and feature top speakers in the industry discussing everything from recruiting and motivating employees to utility pruning best management practices.
“The UAA also has its annual meeting during the ISA Annual Conference,” said Vannice. “This year, we will be working with Electric Power Research Institute to put together the program, which will include speakers from the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, EPA and the BLM.”
According to Vannice, the UAA will serve as the primary facilitator for the 9th International Symposium for Environmental Concerns of Rights of Way Management, which will be held in the fall of 2009 in Portland, Ore.
“The UAA has a separate research committee that is working to get two to three separate research project funded annually,” said Vannice. “The committee is also working to connect researchers with needed research and sources of funding.”
The UAA supports the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist Certification program, is working on possible educational and training materials for utility arborists, and has joint educational projects and workshops scheduled with the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA).
Details on some of the programs with which the UAA is involved are as follows:
Utility Arborist Program
Technical education in utility arboriculture at the high school vocational level serves as an institution where basic tree care skills are developed, subsequently providing students with many exciting career opportunities. Equally important, this program provides a quality and efficient labor resource for the utility arborist industry. Once these basic skills are learned, they are transferable to other green industry disciplines that help maintain the health and well-being of our natural surroundings. The program not only teaches tree care skills, but also focuses on developing advocates of professional tree care practices. It provides yet another career starting point from which students will become productive contributors to society.
One important goal of the Utility Arborist Program is that participating high school students will learn the basic fundamentals of tree care so that they may enter the workforce in a productive capacity, or continue their academic learning by attending a two- or four-year college in a tree care- or forestry-related program.
This program of study allows students, particularly non-traditional students, and the community at large to have access to education that provides a meaningful career and lifelong learning opportunity.
Students in the Utility Arborist Program of study learn to perform the basic fundamentals of tree trimming and removal procedures in order to clear rights-of-way for electric power lines and apparatus so as to minimize storm and short-circuit hazards. This objective is accomplished through the student learning to safely climb trees in order to reach branches interfering with electric lines and apparatus. The student also learns to operate chain saws, pruners, brush chippers and aerial lift devices to achieve the industry objective.
Students participate in a structured classroom learning environment in which knowledge is gained in safety, electrical hazards, tree health and science, climbing, pruning, rigging, and removal. Learning is complemented by written assignments, classroom discussion, and hands-on experiential learning in a field laboratory environment. Students also develop math skills, reading skills, listening skills, safety skills, communication skills, business skills and employability skills.
The Utility Arborist Program of study curriculum and competency structure are aligned with the ISA Certified Tree Worker designation and the Tree Care International Association Electrical Hazard Awareness Program. These are internationally recognized industry training and certification programs in which students will master a body of knowledge and demonstrate proficiency in the tree care industry.
Continuing training and education
Continuing education has never before been so important to the utility arborist industry. The ability to learn and adapt will have a major impact on the future of utility arborist workers, and the organizations in which they serve.
Training and education is an ongoing process that includes many measurable levels of knowledge, skill and ability. Even upon reaching a mastery skill level, changes in the industry, technology, and work processes will require the utility arborist, regardless of skill level, to be engaged in some form of continuous learning. Ongoing industry research and development relating to knowledge of the work, tools, equipment, and work techniques will continue to advance the utility arborist industry over time. To ensure that utility arborist workers continue to develop to their fullest potential, it is essential that a component of continuous learning be given consideration during, and after, any defined training and development program in the utility arborist industry.
There are several ways to include a continuing education component in your training and education program. Generally, an analysis of the need for continuing education and training along with a review of available resources will help determine what is appropriate for the learning environment. Some examples of continuing training and educational resources may include industry certification and re-certification, post-secondary learning institutions, in-house training and developmental programs, industry associations, training companies and external training programs, regulatory agencies, self-paced learning media, Internet distance learning, on-the-job training, individual development planning, and, many other industry training and educational resources. Some references available for training in utility line clearance include the following:
* “Utility Specialist Certification Study Guide,” ISA
* “Arboriculture — Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Vines,” Harris, Clark and Matheny.
* ANSI A300 Part 1 — Pruning
* Utility Pruning Best Management Practices, ISA
* ANSI Z133.1 Safety Standard for Tree Care Operations
* ACRT Line Clearance Manual, ACRT
* OSHA Regulations — 910.268, 1910.269, 1910.331-1910.335, from the Federal Government
* Tree Climbers Guide, 3rd Edition — Lilly, ISA
* A Handbook for Hazard Tree Evaluation for Utility Arborists — Clark and Matheny, ISA.
ISA Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist
This certification is for professional arborists who are ISA Certified Arborists in good standing and have additional experience in the specialty area of tree care around power lines. Utility specialists work for utility companies, their contractors or consultants.
Utility Specialist Certification is a voluntary advanced certification program providing recognition of one’s professional knowledge by one’s peers. The ISA Utility Specialist recognition is given by ISA in cooperation with the UAA to those who: 1) meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the examination as set forth in the application, 2) successfully complete the examination, and 3) maintain the necessary number of continuing education units to recertify within the re-certification period.
The objectives of the Utility Specialist program are as follows:
* To be an educational program that will improve technical competency of the management personnel in the utility line clearance industry.
* To create incentives for these individuals to continue their professional development.
* To provide the public and those in government with a means to identify those professionals who have demonstrated, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of line clearance vegetation management.
The benefits of the program include the following:
* Certification builds an individual’s self image. By studying for and passing the exam, individuals reaffirm to themselves and their peers a thorough knowledge and dedication to arboriculture.
* Certification affords the public and those in government the opportunity to make an informed selection of services based on the knowledge, which is represented by the Certification designation.
* The process of obtaining an advanced credential and maintaining the designation provides incentives to the individual to continue his/her ongoing professional development.
* Certification is a tool to help the employer both in training their personnel and selecting new employees.
SMA/UAA Collaboration Tool Kit
The SMA/UAA Collaboration Tool Kit is a valuable resource for municipal and utility arborists to obtain information, ideas and templates that can be used at a local level to improve working relationships and foster better care of the urban forest. Recommended within the Tool Kit are the ANSI A300 book and the Best Management Practices (BMPs) booklet. According to Vannice, the standards recommended in the Tool Kit can be purchased along with the BMPs from ISA. The key standards are A300 Part 1 which is pruning, and part 7, which is integrated vegetation management. The ANSI A300 standards represent the industry consensus on performing tree care operations. Best Management Practices are guides written as how-to companions for the ANSI A300 standards, providing urban foresters with effective methods of standards application. For more information about the Tool Kit, visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/related/SMA_UAA_Toolkit.aspx