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Utility Arborist Nelsen Money Scholarship Program

The Utility Arborist Nelsen Money Scholarship Program, established by the Utility Arborist Association (UAA), provides financial support for college students through scholarships to foster a greater appreciation of the utility arboriculture industry. 

Applicants must be enrolled in a major, minor, option, or program related to the practice of arboriculture, forestry/urban forestry and/or utility vegetation management at an accredited college or university. 

Scholarship award amount will be $2,500. The award is non-renewable but can be applied for annually. All awards will be paid directly to the educational institution attended by the recipient, in two payments, after required documentation has been submitted. Awards may only be applied to tuition expense, and applicants may not request scholarships greater than the anticipated amount of their tuition expense for the academic year in which the grants will be paid. To read all information about this scholarship, please click on the Application Request Form button below.


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of Our Way!

By Renee Bissett, ACRT Services
July / August 2020 Newsline

A decade ago, the UAA membership elected a new president, Nelsen Money. None of us who knew Nelsen would be surprised at the legacy he created. Most notably was his contribution to the Utility Arborist Newsline. When he inherited the previous publication named the UAA Quarterly, it was a challenge to provide diverse content representing our whole industry. The UAA Quarterly had begun in 1992 and much of the content was written by staff and with a lot of “arm twisting” according to, then executive director, Derek Vannice. That year—when he led the UAA—the publication got a makeover. Its new name stands today, the Utility Arborist Newsline.

“Nelsen was the driving force behind the UAA editorial committee, and we can thank him for having enough content so that we could move to six issues a year,” said Vannice. 

Philip Charlton, the current Executive Director of the UAA attributes Nelsen’s biggest accomplishment has been his “transformation of the Newsline” and his ability to “mentor and encourage people, thanking those willing to help the UAA.” 

Nelsen wasn’t shy to ask members to do their part and he didn’t make them do it alone. He’d stand shoulder to shoulder with you, providing guidance and support, and lifting you up when you needed it. According to Craig Kelly, PG&E and Past UAA President, Nelsen saw something in him that he didn’t see in himself, “Nelsen recognized future leadership and helped vet individuals like myself to get the ‘tap’ for a leadership role in the UAA. He encouraged and constantly supported all of his protégées, guiding them on their professional succession trail.” 

When Diona Neeser joined the UAA, it was partially due to Nelsen’s nudge. He was among the first to show her the ropes, too. “He was always in my corner, cheering me on—be it in the workplace or as a friend outside of work. He would call or text just to check in on me, give advice, and then head off to the next big fishing day or glass of fine wine that awaited him,” she said. 

We have to remember that even though he was technically retired, he never stopped giving back to the industry. Others who worked closely with Nelsen echoed similar experiences.  

“Nelsen is one of the most giving people I have ever met, giving of his time, experiences, and his wisdom. Nelsen always worked in the background as to not draw attention to himself. He preferred to pass the attention and torch to others around him for the greater good of our industry and profession,” said Will Nutter, Wright Tree Service, and Past UAA President.  

Randy Miller followed Nelsen’s tenure as UAA President, describing him as a, “hall-of-famer caliber guy, both personally and professionally. What he valued most from Nelsen was his, “measured judgement and sound advice during a dynamic period in the UAA’s history.” 

More than just the Utility Arborist Newsline, Nelsen established the partnership the UAA currently has with T&D World, producing an annual vegetation management supplement, which expanded our reach. Charlton also credited Nelsen for, “making the Western Regional meeting a huge success.” He also contributed to the ROW Stewardship accreditation and was a strong supporter of the program. 

Vannice said, “He was tireless in his promotion of the UAA and IVM.” There were few corners of this industry Nelsen didn’t touch. His legacy is profound. 

“Nelsen was a true IVM/UVM ambassador, with unwavering passion, commitment, and industry-level engagement…a mentor, father, brother, colleague, friend, passionate fisherman, and loving husband. The UVM industry, colleagues/friends that Nelsen touched are exponentially superior from his expertise and spirited discussions,” said Eric Brown, SMUD, UAA President. 

Rich Hendler, ACRT, summarized Nelsen’s contributions as immense: “To the UAA, our editorial committee, our UAA leadership team, our industry, and our life pursuits, we travel the road Nelsen has built and what a positive influence on us all.” 

He didn’t just lift up those of us lucky enough to know him. He did it for the whole industry. Lori Jones, Salt River Project, reminded me that “when industry legends leave us, we need to keep their memories alive.” 

The best way to honor Nelsen’s legacy is to lift those up around us, offering mentorship, friendship, and coaching to those that need it. Keep carrying his torch, and if you catch a big fish, remember him. 

When Nelsen handed over the reins of the editorial committee to me last fall, he told me, “It has been a great ride for many years and the team has done an excellent job. I’ll probably join some calls and can be a resource if needed. It’s time to fish more and enjoy each day.” 

Nelsen would often check in with people and make sure they felt appreciated. After joining us for a recent editorial committee meeting, he sent me a text, “You are doing great.” He went on to say, “It was fun listening in.” That was his last meeting. Nelsen Money passed away in his sleep on May 23, 2020; leaving an everlasting legacy. 


The Utility Arborist Nelsen Money Scholarship Program, established by the Utility Arborist Association (UAA), provides financial support for college students through scholarships to foster a greater appreciation of the utility arboriculture industry.

Applicants must be enrolled in a major, minor, option, or program related to the practice of arboriculture, forestry/urban forestry and/or utility vegetation management at an accredited college or university.

Scholarship award amount will be $2,500. The award is non-renewable but can be applied for annually. All awards will be paid directly to the educational institution attended by the recipient, in two payments, after required documentation has been submitted. Awards may only be applied to tuition expense, and applicants may not request scholarships greater than the anticipated amount of their tuition expense for the academic year in which the grants will be paid.

All the following criteria must be met to qualify:

  • Actively pursuing a professional career in utility vegetation management, utility line clearance or arboriculture
  • Returning to the second year of a two-year program or at least the Sophomore year of a four-year program at an accredited college or university
  • Currently enrolled in a major, minor, option, or program of utility line clearance, utility vegetation management, arboriculture, forestry, urban forestry, or related field
  • 0 GPA minimum
  • Current student member of the UAA

UAA will only accept applications submitted between February 15th, 2021 and April 15th, 2021. 

To apply, send an email to office@gotouaa.org containing a brief (no more than 100 words) introduction of yourself which includes the bullets listed below. Any missing items will result in immediate decline of application:

  • Your full name
  • Your best contact phone number
  • Your e-Mail addresses.
  • Name of school you are currently attending.
  • Expected graduation date.
  • Applicable work information
  • Subject header must state Nelsen Money Scholarship Program – Application Request

UAA staff will confirm eligibility for consideration, and if you qualify, will send you a numbered application form for you to complete.

Upon completion of this application form, you will need to save a completed Word version for your records, then create a PDF version of the completed document with title in the format “Your Surname, Scholarship Program, Application Number” (e.g., “Johnson, Rachel, #20-01”), and email it as an attachment to office@gotouaa.org with a PDF of your essay and reference letters (two required), and your academic transcript. Staff will confirm receipt of your application at that time.

Applicants will need the following information to complete the form. (Note: The word count limit is firm and absolute) Exceeding word counts may result in your application being rejected before review. Applicants should compose their text in Word or related systems that allow counts to be confirmed before they are placed in the application form.)

  • Educational standing and enrollment status
  • History of scholarships and extracurricular activities
  • Honors and Recognitions
  • Essay describing your reasons for pursuing your chosen career, your goals, and objectives, and why you should be chosen for this scholarship (maximum 1000 words)
  • Current transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • One must be from an advisor or equivalent.
    • The other from a professional affiliation such as a coach, manager, or mentor


UAA is particularly interested in having its scholarship recipients begin and remain in careers in arboriculture, utility line clearance, vegetation management and other related fields. Applicant essays should provide UAA with a sense of the student’s career aspirations and plans within these industries, and academic, work, and extracurricular activities should reflect commitment toward this goal.

Applications will be evaluated by UAA’s Scholarship Committee. Members of this committee will rate applications using the following rubric:

  • Essay 30 points
  • Cumulative GPA: 25 points
  • Advisor Letter of Recommendation:25points
  • Second Letter of Recommendation: 20 points
    • Total Maximum Possible Score: 100 points

Recommendations on scholarship awards will be presented to the UAA Executive Board of Trustees in May 2021 and will be announced within two weeks of their decision.

UAA does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national or ethnic origin. Current staff or Executive Board members of the UAA or any member of the family of any such person are ineligible to receive scholarships from the UAA.


Recipients will be notified within two weeks of the award decision. The award letter will include instructions on submitting acceptance information for the scholarship award.

Upon UAA’s receipt of the acceptance information from the recipient, the first half of the scholarship payment will be made to the institution. The balance of the award will be made after fall semester grades and re-enrollment are confirmed with UAA by recipient.