By Gillean Smith
Just like many industries, competition is part of the game. But owners of two separate arborist training companies decided to put competition aside to pool their resources for the betterment of the arboriculture industry as a whole. The companies recently combined 460 years of industry experience to improve training methods while also finding ways to help reduce the ever-increasing rate of arborist fatalities.
North American Training Solutions (NATS), Atlanta, and Arboriculture Canada Training & Education (ACTE) Alberta, Canada, hand-picked approximately 30 men and women to participate in what they called, “Instructor Intensive Training Camp.” The group included the current rosters of instructors from NATS and ACTE — representing more than 12 chapters of ISA — as well as world champion tree climbers and well-known trainers from throughout the industry. ACTE Owner Dwayne Neustaeter said the group walked away with much more than just innovative arborist skills and techniques.
“The men and women who took part are leaders in the industry,” said Neustaeter. “The surprises came in the areas of personal growth and development, relating to each attendee’s increased level of confidence and abilities to instruct and train people. Additionally, each expert walked away with a new appreciation of using motivation and inspiration in easy to understand, powerful accelerated learning techniques.”
One attendee, Michael “House” Tain, said he has used his attire, or first appearance in front of a new group of students to emphasize the significance of going beyond the first appearance of a tree when evaluating a tree before climbing, rigging or felling.
“I realized that often as arborists, and also human beings, we find ourselves misled or allow ourselves to make false conclusions based on appearances,” says Tain, an instructor, trainer, program designer, writer and Arbor Age columnist. “Appearances are certainly important. They are a means of gathering information that can then be processed to make decisions, but if we do not look beyond the outward appearance of the tree, we may not notice the internal decay or the less-than-obvious root damage, and find ourselves in a dangerous work situation. Tree folk are not often seen in suits, and may tend to make conclusions about someone wearing a suit based on their appearance. I was doing a customized training seminar, and thought that one way to teach the students the importance of looking beyond appearances when evaluating a tree for safety would be to start the session in a suit, and gradually disrobe as I spoke about the importance of examining each tree or situation closely from all angles — eventually revealing Arborwear tech pants and a NATS instructor T-shirt beneath. The benefit to the students was a unique, memorable, and hopefully enjoyable learning experience — one that, in all likelihood, helped them retain the information, and also pay close attention, since they had no idea what odd thing I might do next.”
“The vision of the folks who are involved with this new direction in arborist training is more expansive,” said NATS Owner Scott Prophett. “The number of instructors, the broader sense of courses, number of trainers, looking at the industry and trying to make an impact by spending the time necessary to research, test and change unsafe methods for the betterment of the industry — we are here to share what we know, serve arborists in delivering the training they need and support our clients well beyond any and every training session we offer.”
Arboriculture statistics reveal that a tree worker is more likely to lose his/her life than a police officer. Overall, close to 600 tree workers lost their lives in the 1990s (published by the Arborist Safety and Techniques Fund). At the current rate, the arboriculture industry is expected to lose almost twice this amount (1,000 arborists) in the first 10 years of the 21st century. This information alone established another critical reason for these two training companies to come together to develop a more extensive level of advanced training for arborists worldwide.
According to Neustaeter, the training both NATS and ACTE offer comes from a considerable amount of investigation.
“In keeping with the ANSI, ISO and NOCA guidelines and standards to develop credible training and certification programs in the andragogy system, we also integrated powerful accelerated adult learning techniques, and have engaged the services and review process of an independent group of industry and business experts that function as an advisory board to our organizations,” said Neustaeter.
Another supporter of quality training and the importance of arborists becoming certified is Tobe Sherrill, owner of SherrillTree. Sherrill supports training companies on an ongoing basis by providing a multitude of samples of new and up-and-coming equipment and gear to test throughout the year to further assess the value each product can bring to arborists worldwide.
“In our industry, training and equipment go hand in hand, so much so that SherrillTree spends countless hours in research and development to provide the most innovative technology to arborists every year,” said Sherrill. “It is with this commitment to quality that we support training companies by supplying the latest tree gear and equipment to allow trainers the opportunity to try out the latest innovations and provide us with the feedback we, in turn can share with arborists who continue to look for the next equipment advancement to save time on the job allowing more time for additional work. In fact, it is very possible that some of the items being tested by trainers in these next few months will soon be introduced at the ISA [conference and trade show] in July.”
According to Neustaeter, the feedback so far has been very positive.
“Recently, a senior safety officer for Petro Canada audited a customized aerial lift and chain saw safety program for quality control reasons,” said Neustaeter. “He felt compelled to comment at the end of the three-day program that in his many years of experience in attending and delivering safety training programs he had never before encountered such an entertaining and educational program. He went on to say that he was very excited to have been able to have been part of the program we delivered and would be recommending us highly to anyone needing training in these specialty areas of arboriculture.”
Gillean Smith is a freelance writer, public relations consultant and account executive with King’s English, Greensboro, N.C.
NATS/ACTE “Instructor Intensive Training Camp” attendees included:
Warren Williams, Thor Clausen, Andrew Hordyk, Bruce Smith, Scott Prophett, Lita Sciturro-Smith, Glen Wilson, Glenn Peroni, Ed Carpenter, Odis Sisk, John Ransom, Kathy Holzer, Melissa LeVangie, Matt Logan, Mike Dirksen, Mark Cooke, Matthew Hodges, Ary Fun, Wenda Li, Anthony Tresselt, Michael Tain, Zeb Haney, Javier Jimenez, Kevin Mengers, Sam Kezar, Dwayne Neustaeter and Nancy Neustaeter.
For more information on the training these companies offer, visit NATS at www.northamericantrainingsolutions.com and ACTE at www.arborcanada.com. For more information on arborist equipment supplied by SherrillTree, visit the company online at www.sherrilltree.com.