The Advancing Arboriculture Award was presented during a ceremony at Winter Management Conference in Puerto Rico in February. The “Advancing Arboriculture Award” is given to a government agency, institution or a green industry partner that has worked to advance legislation, regulation or practices favorable to the tree care industry.
This year, we’d like to honor someone whose contributions to advancing arboriculture are likely to be measured for decades to come.
Amidst all this talk, one person actually had a plan that included:
It took a few years, many more meetings and some tweaks here and there, but that original plan, authored by today’s honoree, Ron Zillmer, eventually became TCIA’s Workforce Development Initiative.
Before Ron was devising plans to advance arboriculture, he studied urban forestry at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and earned a master’s degree from Purdue. Following graduation, he joined Milwaukee’s Forestry Department.
Ron left there in 1999 to join Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. His mission was to create a new associate’s degree program in arboriculture. He succeeded in launching a program that has graduated hundreds of arborists employed at TCIA companies throughout the United States. Many of these students go on to four-year degrees. Presently, the Mid-State program contributes approximately 16 percent of the students entering the University of Wisconsin’s Urban Forestry program.
Most recently, Ron worked with members of the Wisconsin Arborists Association to create a new degree program at Gateway Community College in southeast Wisconsin. Soon, that program will be turning out graduates that no doubt will join TCIA member companies throughout Illinois, Wisconsin and the rest of the country. But that’s not all.
Four years ago Ron approached the Wisconsin Department of Labor seeking to create an apprenticeship program for arborists. Working with teams of college instructors, TCIA members, and the Wisconsin Arborists Association, the program kicked off in June 2016. A modified version of the blueprint is under review by the U.S. Department of Labor for use in all 50 states.
For these and many other contributions, we find him to be a worthy green industry partner and recipient of TCIA’s Advancing Arboriculture Award.