HMI Broadens the Horizon for Summer Intern
HMI was thrilled to welcome an intern to our team this summer. Just when we thought the pandemic would halt all plans for anything outside of normal activity, Maren came walking through our door (masked of course:)) A statistics major at Vassar College, Maren's interest in climbing was piqued while having a conversation with a friend in the industry. Something just felt right about further exploring a career in arboriculture. With 12 weeks available to learn the ropes, Maren enthusiastically jumped in: committing to early morning starts, a firestorm of skill development, and a new tribe of mentors that would become fast friends!
Maren began her internship with a 3 day/week schedule. Her first day was probably one of the hottest, toughest days we could experience, but she was up for the task. Although an experienced driver of standard transmissions, Maren had never driven a large truck before. That morning, she left with the crew as a passenger....but returned proudly hauling back a bed full of chips as the captain of the F-550 Dump body. We knew right away, that she was ready to jump in and experience it all. Thanks, Artie, for kicking off Maren's first day with some awesome mentorship!
Safety ALWAYS comes first, so Maren was taken through a rigorous training regimen that included proper PPE, chainsaw handling, chipper use, proper knot tying, worksite evaluations and more. While observing HMI protocol and learning the ropes, she served the important role of ground crew member - supporting the arborists aloft by keeping the work zone safe and tidy - and attending to their safety and efficiency from below.
It's always important to set a strong foundation of skills for an arborist to be successful. Taking the time to learn proper techniques will lead to more efficient jobs and offer less strain on the body. But as any arborist knows, when you get close to those trees you can hardly wait to climb! We knew this line of work had stirred something in Maren because she had the same reaction. She swiftly mastered her core competencies in anticipation of the day she'd get her first climbing lesson! By the way.....if you EVER asked Maren how her day was, she would always respond with an "It was great!" One really can't ask for a more gratifying response.
CLIMBING DAY! Now before you experience arborists ask why the intern is being forced to climb with a body thrust technique, and her trainer is easing up the tree with the single rope technique, let us explain! She didn't have to finish out her summer climbing this more challenging way, but we thought it was important to understand the evolution of tree climbing, as well as round out her skills so she could get aloft with any set of gear. I don't think this slowed her down much, as her crew leader found her 80 feet up, when he assumed she would just get a "feel for climbing" at 25 feet. There was no stopping her now. Interesting fact....Maren was involved in a cirque troupe in high school, which had her foot locking, freestyle up silk ropes. (see photo below) Now that's impressive!
Maren took the opportunity to climb whenever possible, but there was more to learn about the varied opportunities in the industry, and little time left in the summer to take it all in. She served on a Plant Health Care crew, supporting the array of treatments provided to our clients' outdoor living spaces. Soil health, insect and disease identification, drought remediation, and organic alternatives were all introduced as the foundation of a healthy property care program.
Maren also took a day to spend with Scott: meeting with clients and participating in street tree evaluations. This provided a completely different experience within the same industry. You don't have to love climbing or pruning to call yourself an arborist. To complete the circle of elite service within a tree care company, stellar communication skills, an understanding of botany, physics and art, as well as strong organizational traits, are critical to establishing a strong relationship with potential clients. The client care team needs a broad range of skills to be able to identify plant health care needs, properly price and safely schedule a job, maintain symbiotic relationships with the crews and clients, and ensure efficiency to ensure a fiscally sound company. Wow! These professional talents, along with the opportunity to work outside, is rapidly drawing more and more people to the industry who may not have considered it in the past. The work is challenging and the opportunity to steward our natural environment is fast becoming a popular draw for the generation entering our workforce.
Maren rounded out her training with time spend with our Landscape Designer, Karen. Learning the basics of site analysis, plant selection, and design concepts, she got a brief taste of yet another aspect of working in the Green Industry. Maren's analytical background came in very handy in understanding spacial concepts as they related to designing large landscapes, as well as the precision and physics involved in safely pruning/felling trees.
Sadly, Maren's internship flew by and it was time to say goodbye. Having made fast friends with the entire team, we celebrated with a little socially distanced, backyard barbecue on her last day. We can't thank her enough for her enthusiasm and hard work. We do believe we have identified an unknown passion of hers - that she might never have recognized if she hadn't taken a leap of faith and tried something which seemed so far out of her current course of study. But we know that her mathematical training, combined with her love of athleticism and adventure (and newfound introduction to the Green Industry) is the perfect combination for a limitless career in arboriculture. Vassar welcomed her back but we will be here - ropes and saddle in hand - to help her reach new heights when she returns. Thank you, Maren!
A quick, minimal contact goodbye as Maren heads off for her senior year at Vassar!