This year’s Partners in Community Forestry Conference and UAA Seattle Regional Meeting, November 15 – 17, 2022, is plugged by the Arbor Day Foundation as the “largest international gathering” of professionals from private industry to non-profit and government entities.
David Bayard, Manager of the Vegetation Management and Fleets and Mobile Equipment groups for Seattle City Light, is eager to welcome utility arborists to his city next month.
“I’ve been in the tree industry for twenty years now, and a lot has changed,” says Bayard. “What once was a siloed industry – with the utility, residential and municipal arborists all hanging out independently – is now an increasingly interconnected one where everyone is working towards the common goals of managing the urban and community forest systems that we all live amongst and depend on.
“Everything in this world is interconnected, and partnership conferences like this one are designed explicitly with that reality in mind. Exposure to varied perspectives on common challenges and opportunities to engage and explore new ideas with peers make all of us better at our jobs and smarter about what we do and how we do it. Gone are the days when a utility arborist could afford to look up at the wires and branches only – and if you don’t believe that statement, you definitely need to come to this conference.”
The general focus of the event is to expand the view of the typical utility arborist, says Kieran Hunt, Digital Engagement Lead for the Asplundh Digital Engagement Team, who serves on the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) Conference Committee and the UAA Events Committee. Hunt will speak on “Municipal and Utility Arborist Collaboration.” He says the SMA and UAA are excited to be working to strengthen their partnership through collaboration and better exchange of ideas.
“We’re all urban foresters so whether we talk about municipal, utility foresters or community folks who help run non-profits, we’re all managing the same trees,” Hunt maintains. “My main point is to take a step back and look at the stakeholders. Who are the customers and community members that we’re serving? We have a lot of overlapping goals as professionals and a lot of common ground. We need to take a look at our mutual goals and how those align in a broader sense.”
Bayard, who will be speaking on how to “Unleash the Trojan Mice! Manifesting the Community Utility Forestry Program You’re Already Committed To,” wants to help UVM practitioners wrap their heads around the ideas of social and environmental equity, and how and why they are a part of their jobs.
“Few if any of us, myself included, got into this industry with a strong background in these concepts,” he says, “and now that we’re being asked to incorporate them into our work – we need some help. I’m hoping to place these ideas in the UVM context and promote the notion that there are many little, manageable and creative steps we can take to improve environmental and social equity in the work that we do.”
Hunt adds that if you work in the Pacific Northwest or Western U.S., you will benefit from attending.
“There will be utility foresters and community foresters from other fields sitting at the same table. You can get to know them, what their day-to-day is like, and what they’re like as people. This is your opportunity to branch out and get to know some folks in adjacent fields managing trees in your region.”