Jessica Tomaszewski, UVM Program Manager, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Randall H. Miller, Director of Research and Development, CNUC
*Editorial Note: The following article appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of the UAA Newsline.
The Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) Professional Development Program (PDP), a comprehensive certificate-based college-level training program designed and facilitated by industry professionals who will lead participants through the knowledge and skills needed to plan and manage sustainable UVM programs. The UVM PDP emphasizes applied learning and provides opportunities for participants to think beyond their current daily individual tasks to what knowledge and skills they need to advance into management positions. It is a cooperative effort among the UAA, Utility Vegetation Management Association and the Wisconsin Forestry Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The program consists of 2 certificates and a credential preparation course which are project-based. It is 100% online and courses are designed for applied learning for working professionals. There are no set days and times to engage with the course so participants can do the weekly course requirements on their own schedule. The goal of the courses is to enhance comprehension and application of industry best practices so participants can advance beyond their current roles to help enact comprehensive UVM management for their utilities or companies. The UVM PDP is designed and facilitated by industry professionals, who blend their knowledge and experience with that of the participants to create a rich learning environment.
The UVM PDP is a pathway for UVM career development and advancement. It is designed for individuals who are working within utility and other arboricultural specialties and are interested in enhancing their knowledge to manage a comprehensive UVM programs. Among those who would benefit from the program include crew supervisors who desire to advance to a management position; UVM managers who are responsible for one aspect of a UVM plan and want to explore other domains; and leaders on the utility crews who the company wants to mentor and encourage to climb their organizational structure to a management position. The curriculum is challenging, and those considering participating should be prepared for the stretching their thinking and applying their learning.
The program is comprised of three stages: a Foundations of UVM Certificate, a UVM Professional Certificate, and UVM Program Planning Credential Prep Course.
Foundations of UVM Certificate
The Foundations Certificate is a year-long program consisting of five courses of 3 to 5 weeks each. Foundation’s participants should be prepared to devote 8-10 hours a week to coursework. The Foundations Certificate courses begin with North American Electrical Systems. It is a 5-week course, which explores energy generation, transmission, and distribution, and how it is impacted by vegetation management. The second course is Utility Arboriculture and it also lasts 5-weeks. It focuses on growing conditions and vegetation controls impact electrical systems and introduces integrated vegetation management control methods. The third course is Leadership and Organizations and is 4-weeks long. It introduces leadership styles and skills and how they impact UVM. It emphasizes organizational systems the operational processes of a participant’s work. The fourth course is Program and Project Management. In the five weeks of this course participants examine all UVM program domains and project management concepts as it relates to a participants’ workplace. The final course is only 3-weeks long and introduces integrated vegetation management (IVM) as a systematic approach to UVM and has participants systematically evaluating IVM.
UVM Professional Certificate
The UVM professional certificate is the second stage of the UVM Professional Development Program, also lasting a year. It is comprised of 3, 10-week courses. Participants can expect to devote 10-15 hours a week for the duration of this slate of courses. The first course of this certificate is Compliance and Stakeholder Management. It focuses on program and project management processes attendant to managing regulatory compliance, stakeholders’ communications, and records documentation. Scope, Cost and Procurement Management teaches the necessity of a clear scope of UVM work to be completed, scheduling of the use of resources, budgeting, and procuring resources. UVM Safety, Risks, and Quality Management examines the title components and should in integral to the development of any UVM program and project. It also emphasizes safety as a requirement for workplace culture.
UVM Program Planning – Credential Prep Course
The final stage of the UVM PDP is the UVM Program Planning Credential, which is a 12-week course and will demand 15-20 hours a week. It involves completing a UVM plan that addresses safety, compliance, best practices, right-of-way stewardship, IVM and project management tools and processes. The idea is for participants to apply the concepts learned throughout the Program to building a sustainable UVM program for their utility. To be eligible for the Credential, the UAA requires participants to have completed the full UVM Certificate Program, have 2-years of work experience, being a UAA member and be committed to the UVM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Plans written in this course will be evaluated by the UAA Credentialing Board who will issue the Certified Utility Vegetation Management Credential.
Table 1. UVM Program Course Start Dates
To be successful in the UVM courses, participants need to read the weekly module, participate in discussion, assemble weekly project task documents, and ultimately complete a final project. Each week, facilitators give feedback on the project task so that information can be incorporated into the final project. Participants can expect to have to devote 8-15 hours a week to their course work. The learning platform for the program is Canvas. Participants will be required to undergo 2-4 hours of orientation before the first class to introduce Canvas and full program information. During orientation participants will learn course navigation, complete a time-management exercise, and ensure they have the resources for success.
The Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) Program expands on participants’ experiences with additional UVM knowledge and skills through applied learning opportunities. It is designed to take driven utility foresters and UVM professionals who aspire to lead in the UVM industry though a learning journey to build comprehensive UVM management plans. By working through all the UVM program domains, our UVM program graduates will be well versed for leadership roles in our utilities and a fulfilling career making sure our utility corridors are safe and wonderful assets to our communities.