Getting to Know Terry Hawkridge

Terry Hawkridge

Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry?
Terry Hawkridge: I was always very comfortable in the forests of New Hampshire where I spent time growing up. I went to a forestry camp for a month where we opened up a ten-year-old stand of trees, cutting out 6-foot swaths and leaving 6 feet of growth and all the sugar maples. I worked with my father on perennial gardens, constructing two large gardens that included peonies and roses.

What did you study in college and what has been your major career?
TH: I started out in forestry at the University of New Hampshire. I switched to pre-veterinarian medicine but finally ended up with a B.S. in Business Administration. Half my credits were in the sciences. I received an Associate’s degree in Greenhouse Management a year after the B.S. degree.

I was hired out of college by Hamilton College and was the college horticulturist for three years. I moved to Boston, MA and worked in a landscape nursery for four years. There I became an ISA Certified Arborist. I was solicited to return to Hamilton College where I worked for 33 years managing the horticulture, landscape, golf course, and turf programs. I finally ended up as the Director of the Hamilton Arboretum when it was founded in 2002 and served in that role until my retirement at the end of 2013.

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Buffalo City Forester Ross Hassinger: Get to Know Him!

Ross and Mandy Hassinger with twin daughters Emily and Josephine at the Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, NY, summer of 2014.
Ross and Mandy Hassinger with twin daughters Emily and Josephine at the Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, NY, summer of 2014.

Were there childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry?
Ross Hassinger: I knew at an early age that I had a passion for working outdoors. As a teenager, I would often mow lawns and do light landscape work for neighbors and relatives to earn extra money. My grandmother would comment on my attention to detail and how I seemed to really enjoy working with nature. She seemed to think it would be my calling. That stuck with me as I went through school and tried to find a meaningful career path.

What have been your educational and career trajectories? RH: After high school, I attended Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin and obtained an associate degree in parks and recreation. After I realized what my ultimate career goals were, I enrolled in the forestry recreation program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Early on in my coursework, I met other students majoring in urban forestry and would often help them with campus tree pruning. Along with my forestry courses, this is where I found my passion for urban forestry. I soon changed my major to urban forestry and became an active member in the Student Society of Arboriculture (SSA). Through the SSA, I attended industry conferences and had opportunities to network with industry professionals. This networking gave me a sense of what the industry had to offer and helped guide me towards working with urban trees for the rest of my career.

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NYC Urban Forester Sumana Serchan: Get to Know Her!

SumanaSumana Serchan is an urban forester with NYC Parks and Recreation. Sumana has a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources/Conservation from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (University of Vermont). She grew up in Kathmandu City, Nepal.

Can you tell us about your childhood in Kathmandu?  
Sumana Serchan: My best memories of my childhood are playing with my friends in my neighborhood in the courtyard. Also, when I was in grade 5, our English teacher asked us to bring our favorite book and read it to the class every Friday. I also remember how my friends and I would race to the communal tap to collect water during water shortages. During summer we would pick guavas and persimmon from trees in my neighbor’s garden.

As the youngest child, I had the opportunity to travel with my mother when she went on village excursions with her students. During long holidays, we went to Pokhara Valley where my grandfather has a farm with fruit trees and livestock. We climbed the trees to pick fruits, fed the buffaloes, chased dragonflies, played in haystacks, and swam in a nearby river.

Sumana Serchan and family; Sumana is second from right.

Please tell us about your immigration to the U.S.
SS: I was 19 when I immigrated to the U.S. with my siblings. Our parents came to the U.S. when I was 12 and we were reunited with our parents after seven years. I aspired to be a dental hygienist when I began community college in Vermont. But that changed when I started volunteering at a local park district under the supervision of Heather Fitzgerald, lecturer at the University of Vermont’s (UVM) Environmental Program. Heather’s profound knowledge of natural history inspired me to change gears to study natural resources.

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Nina Bassuk, Part II: Behind the Scenes in the Bassuk-Trowbridge Landscape

Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, rear center, participate in landscape installation along with students in their "Creating the Urban Eden" class.
Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, rear center, participate in landscape installation along with students in their “Creating the Urban Eden” class.

In this second blog post about Nina Bassuk, we learn about her extensive home landscape. She is also an accomplished flutist who graduated in 1969 from the Music and Arts High School (now known as the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts) in her native NYC. Nina says that recently she reunited with some members of her high school class to play chamber music at the art exhibit of some other former classmates. She is also accomplished on the piano.

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Nina Bassuk Part I: The Early Days of Our Council

RELEAF 252Previously we featured super dynamo Council cofounder Nancy Wolf. Continuing in that series, we talk here with another beloved Council cofounder and current board member, Cornell Urban Horticulture Director Nina Bassuk, who prefers to go by “Nina.” We asked her about her recollections about the early days of the Council. In a subsequent post, we’ll get some updates about things going on in the life and garden of Nina and her husband, the landscape architect Peter Trowbridge.

Nina, a native of NYC, received her bachelor’s degree in Horticulture at Cornell and then went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of London while carrying out her research at the East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Her current work in Cornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute focuses on the physiological problems of plants grown in urban environments, including plant selections, site modification and transplanting technology.

Nina is the coauthor with her husband of Trees in the Urban Landscape, a book for arborists, city foresters, landscape architects, and horticulturists on establishing trees in disturbed and urban landscapes. Nina is on the technical advisory committee of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and helped to develop the Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT) to inventory public trees in small communities. She is a recipient of the Scott Medal for Horticulture and an ever-popular speaker at the ReLeaf Conference.

Nina Bassuk on the Council’s Origins: “The impetus for the creation of the Council—which was then known as the NYS Urban and Community Forestry Council—was the fact that federal grants were coming from the US Forest Service to the states for the first time for urban forestry related projects. Each state had a different way of handling the grant funds; for instance, in Pennsylvania the money went through Cooperative Extension, while in New York the money went through DEC.

One of the requirements of the federal grants was to have an advisory group advising the DEC, who would in turn handle grants to municipalities, on urban forestry matters. The state foresters had to learn about urban forestry in a hurry! Some of them embraced the new urban forestry aspect of their positions, while others didn’t.

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David Moore: Get to Know Him!

RELEAF 259David Moore is a city forester at the New York City Parks Department and serves on the Executive Council of our NYS Urban Forestry Council. How did he get here? What’s great and challenging about it? What are some of his other passions and interests that might surprise you?  

What were your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry? David Moore: Well, I never could have predicted that I’d be working in this field, but I always enjoyed trees and had an interest in biology. I can recall some really exciting science teachers in middle school and high school that helped spark my interest. By the time I was 12 or so, I started spending my summers at camp in the Adirondacks where I could ramble around the mountains and lakes and learn to be a real outdoorsman in all the primitive splendors of the North Country. Those experiences really laid the groundwork for my future path in forestry.

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Getting to Know Board Member June MacArthur and Her Husband Phil

June and Phil ii
Author June MacArthur with husband Phil, tree planting with the Oswego Tree Stewards.

Tree Hugger from Upstate New York
By June S. MacArthur

From my earliest remembrance of about age three and a half, I lived in the countryside in Upstate New York on an apple orchard and chicken farm. I remember walking in the woods across from our house with my father and brother, Gerald, who was four years older. We were on a trail with Gerald ahead of me and Dad behind me when my father suddenly spoke sternly, “June! Stop now!” And I did. In the path ahead of me, where Gerald had just walked, was slowly uncurling a rattlesnake. Dad said, “Your brother seems to have woken up a rattler.”

Gerald yelled because he hadn’t seen it as he obviously had walked over it. My brother wanted to kill it but Dad said, “No, snakes are important. Just be aware that it’s their home too.” We watched it slither off into the underbrush. After that, I always made a point to watch where I was walking in fields or woods and was never surprised or afraid of snakes; I just gave them their own space.

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Getting to Know Andy Pleninger

 

Andy PleningerCan you tell us about your childhood influences?
Andy Pleninger: I grew up in a neighborhood in Rochester, NY with mature black oaks and numerous diverse niche ecosystems ideal for play and exploration. Scouting took me to Camp Massaweppie in the Adirondacks, and camping trips with the family were exciting adventures. In the 1970s gypsy moth arrived and gorged on the oaks in my neighborhood. I also watched in awe as a tree surgeon climbed and worked on one of those giant neighborhood oaks. These events and experiences sparked and fostered my interest in the environment.

What has been your educational and career trajectory? 
AP: My educational and career trajectories are intertwined. My interests and work and life experiences guided me to my career in urban forestry. Right out of high school I got a job with a tree service and enrolled at the local community college in pre-forestry studies. After my two years of studies I moved to Colorado with the intention of finishing a BS in forestry.

I worked in commercial landscaping and tree work and explored and pursued all the adventures the Rocky Mountains could offer. One of my jobs working as a tree surgeon had me pruning street trees for the City of Fort Collins, where I met the city forester. This was my introduction to urban forestry and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I returned to my studies at Colorado State University and completed a BS concentrating in urban forestry.

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Getting to Know Council Founder Nancy Wolf

Nancy Wolf in her garden with grandson Noah John, 8 1/2, and granddaughter Veronica, 4 1/2.
Nancy Wolf in her garden with grandson Noah John, 8 1/2, and granddaughter Veronica, 4 1/2. Photo by Ellen Wolf

Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in arboriculture, urban forestry, and environmental education? Nancy Wolf: I grew up in a small southern Appalachian town in the Clinch River Valley of Virginia that was surrounded by farms. Everyone had gardens, my father kept chickens and my grandmother had a Jersey cow, which produced the best milk and butter in the world. I loved tree climbing and my first experience in “knowing” a tree was while perched in the major crotch of a big maple, surrounded by branches, leaves and breezes.

In my small high school, we were fortunate to have a well-educated science teacher who had just returned from World War II. Mr. Couch, in better days, would probably have gone on to graduate school and become a college teacher. The botany part of his biology class was “it” in terms of my entry into what I later understood was horticulture and arboriculture. His field trips and hands-on activities with plants brought to class were environmental education long before the term was introduced.

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Getting to Know Mike Mahanna: Arborist, Business Owner, and Council Executive Committee Member

Mike and Dianne
Mike Mahanna with wife Dianne.

Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in arboriculture and urban forestry? Mike Mahanna: I grew up in the city of Utica and was always mesmerized by the American elm trees and the way they lined the city streets and formed a canopy almost appearing to touch in the middle. I spent many hours walking those streets with my family—and suddenly they were gone. At the time I had no idea it was because of Dutch elm disease, but I did miss seeing them and was saddened by the void they left and lack of beauty it created.

I also spent years as a child camping with my Dad in the Adirondack Mountains and loved everything about it. I knew at a young age that I wanted to spend most of my time outdoors.

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