Council member Kateri Savory is the Davey Resource Group Project Manager for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program in NYC. Kateri received scholarship funding from the Council toward attending the 2019 Municipal Forestry Institute, which took place in Silverton, Oregon.
Can you tell us about your job background and education? Kateri Savory: I’ve always loved being outside, and beaches and rainforests are my favorite places. However, the forest, much less an urban forest, wasn’t where I thought I would find myself working.
Before changing fields, I was a district manager in retail where I enjoyed training teams and using my creativity to revamp stores. Constant goal attainment made the long hours satisfactory for a while, but I wanted to spend energy on something that would help others and feed my soul.
I studied Permaculture courses online through Cornell University and then pursued a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Bronx Community College, which included courses with the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The array of adult education classes offered by NYBG were way too interesting for me to pass over, so I took any class that would teach me about gardening, biology, arboriculture, design, etc. I received a Certificate in Gardening and spent much time interning with NYBG, which gave me invaluable skills and knowledge.
I began working with Davey Resource Group in 2015 as an Inventory Arborist. I’ve had the opportunity to assist with various projects including tree inventories, pollinator garden creation, and invasive species management. Since then I became an ISA Certified Arborist and attained the Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ).
What were the most valuable aspects of MFI for you?
I valued the chance to speak informally with the teaching cadre members, learn from their experiences, and ask them questions.
It was also fantastic to meet my colleagues from around the country; it gave me perspective and new ideas for potential solutions to the challenges I face in my work. I also got a deeper sense of the diversity of roles within the field of urban forestry and the impact our field has on city planning.
The role-playing session with Rosa Linda Perez on communicating with the press was excellent. I learned some new skills for interacting with the media around sensitive issues—I feel more confident knowing I can reference those skills should the situation arise.
What was one of your biggest takeaways?
It’s important for any urban forestry program—be it that of a cemetery, municipality, or other entity within the urban forest—to have a clear program identity and brand. Whether starting a program from scratch or taking over the supervision of an existing one, it’s important to have a vision—and to have a strategy to build it.
Any last words?
I sincerely appreciate and want to thank the Council for sponsoring me to attend MFI! Thank you for investing in my professional education, which will help me be a better Council Board Member, as well.
Council Board Member Mike DeMarco attended the 2017 Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) on scholarship from the Council and NYSDEC. MFI is an immersive, weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals. Here, we learn about DeMarco’s takeaways from MFI, his current position, and his work and educational background.
DeMarco says, “I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to the New York State Urban Forestry Council and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Without the support and positive push from members of these organizations, I would not have been able to take part in MFI 2017.”
Mike DeMarco: Prior to any thought of a career in urban forestry, I spent most of my early and mid-20’s following an obsession with creating music and working as a master control operator at WWNY- TV7, a local news station in my hometown of Watertown, NY. After a few years of work in TV, I felt that something was missing in my life—that is, until 2008 when I found Tree Watertown (Watertown’s Street Tree Advisory Board). I began attending meetings and quickly discovered my love for the urban forest.
Before I knew it, I was being mentored by two individuals that have since played a huge part in my journey. They encouraged me to pursue higher education and in the fall of 2012, I graduated from SUNY-ESF with a BS in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Urban Forestry.
ISA Certified Arborist Christine (Chris) Manchester is the naturalist and sustainability coordinator for the Town of Dewitt, and as such she is heavily involved in the oversight of Dewitt’s urban forest. The NYSUFC provided financial assistance to Manchester to reimburse some of her expenses to attend the Partners in Community Forestry Conference last November 16-17 in Indianapolis. Additional support was provided by the Arbor Day Foundation and NYSDEC.
“I can’t thank the Council enough,” she says. “I had a great time, met some very interesting people (there were 559 registered), and gained valuable information. Thank you for this opportunity.” Manchester prepared a presentation about her take-aways from the conference and how they apply most to the work that she does for the Town of DeWitt. That presentation is excerpted here.
The opportunity to network with this many people who are facing many of the same challenges nationally doesn’t present itself every day. Through an informal tally, the majority of people raised their hands that they had been in urban forestry for less than 10 years. There were so many incredible presentations—but there were a couple of topics that resonated with me more than others. The take-aways for me were: 1) partnership/collaboration, 2) thinking about trees as infrastructure and incorporating plantings into streetscapes and 3) focusing on planting trees in poor residential areas.
Did you know that scholarships toward registration for the annual ReLeaf conference are available through the DEC for qualified applicants? These folks received awards this year.
Dewitt’s Nicholas Quilty-Koval:
The Releaf Conference was fantastic. It was a great experience and I was able to talk to many great people who encouraged me to pursue my goal of a career in urban planning.
In my community I have the opportunity to go door-to-door and talk to people about receiving a free tree. I am involved in the Save The Rain program for the Town of Dewitt. This program works with OEC (Onondaga Earth Corps) in an attempt to educate the nearby community about the benefits of trees as well as saving the rain. Our goal is to plant trees in the local area in order to do things such as decrease the amount of flooding, improve the air quality, and improve the appearance of the neighborhoods. I am also involved in the Town’s attempt to save ash trees that have been impacted by emerald ash borer. I have marked trees for removal as well as treatment. I also work with database software to help track the trees in our area.
Every aspect of the conference gave me insight into new topics and I learned a lot. It also connected ideas that I had originally been exposed to in my first year at college. There are many great takeaways that I received from the conference; the biggest one came from the Urban Wood Utilization talks with Jim Maloney and Tom Derby. I learned that we should not grind up ash and other trees into mulch, but instead should try to make them into something more useful and high-value, from a bench to a turkey call. Doing this would allow for more revenue from the tree and more meaningful products. I learned that marketing is a big key to the success of this idea of reusing the wood from urban trees.
Environmental consultant Karen Emmerich serves on the NYSUFC Board, on the Region 3 ReLeaf Committee, and as Tree Commission Chair for the Town of Warwick. Last February, the Council provided a partial scholarship for Karen to attend the Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI), a weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals and their affiliates.
“Without hesitation, I would encourage anybody who is in the urban forestry field to attend MFI,” she says. “Do whatever you have to do to get there! I found it so incredibly valuable.” She says the leadership skill building and the networking were the most meaningful to her. She especially urges young people to go, to get the benefits of MFI early in their career. More about Karen’s MFI experience later.
By Lewis M. Cutler, MS Forest Botany and Ecology, SUNY ESF, 1975
There’s now an urban forestry scholarship for students at SUNY ESF. I’ve created the Helen Sternberg Cutler Memorial Scholarship in urban forestry in my mother’s memory.
The urban landscape needs a lot of help to make cities more livable. With the demise of the American elm, climate change, and the spread of the emerald ash borer, I saw a need to encourage more ESF students of become professionals in urban forestry. What better way to further our family interests in urban forestry than to fund a scholarship.