An article about SUNY-ESF alum and Council Past President David Moore appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of ESF Magazine, a publication for alumni and friends of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Dan Gaidasz is the NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Program Technical Coordinator.
Where did you grew up? Were you interested in nature from an early age? Dan Gaidasz: I grew up in the Genesee Valley between Mount Morris and Geneseo. From a very young age, I have been interested in the outdoors. I grew up on a small farm and it was very rare to find me indoors unless I got myself in hot water with one of my siblings. Besides being surrounded by farmland and forests, I was also blessed having Letchworth State Park as my “back yard,” where I spent a lot of time exploring. In 6th grade, my school had several professionals come in and talk about their jobs; that’s when I was introduced to forestry. I couldn’t believe you could get paid being outdoors, walking the woods, and playing with heavy equipment. I knew then that I wanted to be a forester.
All Photos Courtesy James Kaechele & Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
What skills does an urban forester use when planting trees on disturbed land along an Amazon River tributary? “All of them,” says New York Tree Trust Director and Council Executive Committee Member James Kaechele. In early December, 2019, Kaechele, also a consulting arborist for the Pittsburgh-based international charity Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), went with a team of staff and volunteers to the Loreta Region of Peru to plant 6,000 fruit trees in five Amazon River communities.
“As urban foresters, our job is equal parts plants and people,” Kaechele says. “We’re uniquely positioned to coordinate both the arboricultural and human aspects of a project like this. The land-use questions are the same; the site assessment process is the same; tree planting techniques are the same; you have to address any concerns people have—for example, the worry that some have about whether a tree will fall on their house—it’s the same skills that I use in the work I do with street trees and residents in NYC.” Furthermore, the land along the Amazon River is often severely degraded and in need of restoration, just like in the tree beds, parks, and natural areas of NYC—just degraded for different reasons.
Steve Harris has been Syracuse City Arborist since 2010. He has served several terms on the Council Board and is now its Vice President. Steve is also active with the Society of Municipal Arborists, excelling in conference program planning.
Can you tell us about your educational trajectory? Steve Harris: When I was 9 or 10, my Dad gave me an atlas of the United States for my birthday. I studied it often and knew all the states and capitols before that was taught in school, which might be the reason I studied Urban Geography at Ohio State. In 1990, at the end of my senior year of college, one of my friends told me they’d enrolled in the Peace Corps. The idea of getting that kind of experience resonated with me, so I applied and was sent to The Gambia in West Africa to be a forest extension agent.
Upon my return to the States, I worked in an unrelated field for a couple of years before realizing that forestry was the career path for me. I attended Paul Smith’s College to get an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Professional Forestry then to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to get a Master’s Degree in Forestry. In both cases, my focus was forest management.
Support urban forestry and community efforts around New York State. Please take a moment to renew your membership or join the Council. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive, and means the world! Mailings are exceedingly rare, and your info is not shared. Thank you!
The New York State Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for communities to hold a 2020 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community-based forestry program. Many blog posts have appeared here about past recipients of this grant and how they used their Quick Start (also known as Arbor Day) grant funds.
Communities (and not-for-profits that work with communities) can apply for up to $1,000. Funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 14, 2020. Full grant information and application can be found here.
The intent of this grant is to help municipalities establish a community forestry program and move toward becoming a Tree City USA community. The Arbor Day Foundation prepared the following infographic about Tree City USA in New York.
Andrea Nieves is the NYSDEC Environmental Education Assistant in the Urban Forestry program, covering the needs of the Trees for Tribs program as well.
I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina during the hottest summer on record at the time. When I was four, my parents and I moved to Hyde Park, New York—and I’ve been cold ever since. Nevertheless, despite having to always wear layers (even in summer), I’m glad to have grown up in the beautiful Hudson Valley, and not far from the Catskill Mountains.
There was a field near my house growing up that the neighborhood kids had cleverly named “The Field.” It is a very special place with several landmarks, namely “The Tree” and “The Woods.” I tried to spend as much time as possible there, where my friends and I would make up dance routines, catch pretend Pokémon, swing on a makeshift rope swing, and explore.
In my junior year in high school, the year when you’re somehow expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life (as least so far as to choose a college major), I remembered exploring The Woods, climbing on logs, and exploring the tiny streams. I remembered the confident feeling that I got from knowing where I was, becoming familiar with the forest and recognizing certain features as landmarks: a bent tree, a mossy rock. I decided to major in Biology, and I focused on environmental research.
One of the benefits of being a Council member is being eligible for these conference and training scholarships. Please use the brief scholarship application form to apply to any of these:
Society of Municipal Arborists 55th Annual International Conference and Trade Show – $199 scholarships available, deadline Oct 18. For urban forestry professionals and those in allied fields like park management, landscape architecture, and city planning.
2019 Partners in Community Forestry Conference – $399 scholarships available, deadline Oct 18. “Partners” is THE conference for staff and volunteers in the nonprofit sphere of community forestry, but is also of interest to a wide range of professionals.
$1,000 scholarship for MFI 2020, deadline October 31. The Municipal Forestry Institute is a weeklong training in leadership skills for municipal foresters and anyone looking to more effectively navigate within a governmental space, including contractors who work with munis.
I grew up in Pittsford, outside of Rochester. I was definitely interested in nature from an early age, because my house was in the woods. I spent a lot of time outside catching frogs and snakes and playing in the dirt. By 4th grade, I’d decided I wanted to be a herpetologist and then a marine biologist.
I went to SUNY Oswego for a Zoology degree because of my love of nature and animals and initial plans to be a zookeeper. After working for a few years, I returned to school at the University of Albany to get a master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Policy in order to return to biology as a career field. My thesis was on landowner knowledge and opinions of invasive species, inspired by my participation in the Capital Mohawk PRISM.