City Trees

January/ February 2014

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 32 of 39

I mention this because there is tendency, sometimes, for younger tree wardens to discount their own experiences as unimportant. Not so! It is those experiences that give depth and authority to education. Even simple experiences establish an important degree of credibility. They are also critical to knowing how to move forward. That is because experience is often the stepping stone to insight. It can be said that insight is found where education and experience meet. Insight comes from asking questions. As a tree warden makes more and more decisions and then sees the outcome of those decisions, he or she starts to put the pieces together. And, many times, the sidekick of insight is confidence. Together, they help the tree warden continue this forward progress, and lead the tree warden towards becoming increasingly effective in his or her role. I have to say, it is largely because of their insight that I appreciate the opportunity to speak with tree wardens. A tree warden will often see something in a tree that I would have missed and come up with a course of action I would not have seen. I find it very helpful to see trees in the way that someone else sees them, and then understand the reasons for their perspective. It makes me better in my job. For this reason, I try not to pass up an opportunity to spend time in the field with a tree warden. The fourth characteristic of a complete tree warden by my outline is the ability to act. Acting when action is needed if often the most difficult thing for someone to learn, particularly when the need for action is not always readily apparent to others. And there are so many factors that go into being able to act, in the right way and at the right time. Besides insight and confidence, there is the need to recognize responsibilities and for the necessary resources to be present, there is the importance of having support and of being able to explain an action if an explanation is needed—and on and on. In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart says, "I ain't sticking my neck out for nobody." Well, sometimes you have to, and knowing when is key. To some extent, assisting tree wardens so that they have the ability to act is a part of my job. It is not that I have a responsibility to help enact legislation or find more resources for tree wardens or take other concrete steps to facilitate the way in which tree wardens do their jobs—I don't. But I can help explain what tree wardens do and why their jobs are important, and hope this catches the ear of those who are more directly responsible for these sorts of things. We all try to do our part. In the light of all of this, what advice do I have for the tree wardens of Connecticut? The single most important advice I would offer is for each of them to become an active member of the Tree Wardens Association (TWA) and the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA). In Connecticut, there are only roughly 168 other people in the state that do that same job—one for each municipality—and the TWA offers an enormous opportunity to share insights, provide support, give confidence and otherwise help in the Tree wardens measure one of the state's largest white oaks (Quercus alba), on the West Hartford campus of the University of Connecticut. 33

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