Dana O’Malley grew up in Hoosick Falls, New York, a small rural town northeast of Albany. She attended St. Lawrence University from 2014-2018 for environmental studies and geology. In 2017, Dana interned with the Student Conservation Association which led to getting involved in trail work and various conservation programs until she started as a Tree Care Technician at Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy in the fall of 2020. Dana’s participation in the three-month i-Tree Academy training course is facilitated through the NYSUFC.  

From Dana:

Next week will be my third i-Tree Academy class. The first class was a general introduction to get us familiar with the i-Tree website and some of the tools we will be learning. Our second class was more hands on, learning tools such as i-Tree Design, i-Tree MyTree, and i-Tree Planting Calculator. Design is a web tool used for estimating ecosystem services for individual trees. Design has several functions that can be used for educational purposes, making planting site decisions, or comparing benefits of different types of trees. MyTree is a mobile phone tool that can connect people with their ecosystems in a big way. With just a few data inputs it generates a detailed list of an individual tree’s benefits like carbon dioxide sequestration, the amount of stormwater runoff avoided, or the amount of air pollutants removed each year. And lastly, Planting Calculator, which does as the name suggests. It is helpful with bigger planting projects and has the ability to compare benefits of a variety of species at once.

As we progress, I have begun to think of a potential capstone project (required of all 45 students in the i-Tree Academy training course). In my short time working in the Buffalo Olmsted Park System, I’ve seen how we as humans interact with and manipulate our landscape. Coming from a background in conservation, I am constantly seeking ways we can limit our impact while providing ecological services. This prompts me to ask how we as a forestry department or the organization as a whole can adopt new conservation strategies.

For example, I am interested in the services provided and potential benefits of leaving a tree spar standing instead of removing the tree at the base when it comes time for a removal. In removing all branch tips we can lessen the hazard for park goers while preserving ecological habitats that are crucial to many of our birds and insects. i-Tree tools could help me identify and communicate the value of implementing this in our parks. I’m still working through some other potential ideas and have really enjoyed the class thus far. I’m looking forward to learning more in the coming weeks!