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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Can you tell us some about your current business, Rustic Pines Tree Care?
TH: I generally do three things; first is plant health care. As a Certified Pesticide Applicator for 40 years, I diagnose and treat plant insect and disease problems using environmentally safe technology like truck injections with systemic treatments. I am certified in Ornamentals and Turf, Structural Pests, and Rights-of-Way. I plant both large and small trees, from bare root saplings to 6-inch-caliper trees. My trees survive because they are planted properly—I rarely lose a tree. I design and install landscapes but have been backing away from that volume of work recently. I consult on trees and landscape issues and have considerable experience with groundwater issues and solutions. I lecture on a variety of horticultural topics.

Please tell us about the collaborative Arbor Day efforts that are going on in Utica right now.
TH: The Central New York Conservancy (CNYC) is a nonprofit working to maintain and restore the Olmsted-designed parks and parkway in Utica. Those are the F.T & T.R Proctor Parks and Roscoe Conklin parks and the Parkway from Genesee Street to Rutgers Street. Working hand-and-hand with the Utica Parks Department, the Arbor Day program started out by identifying the hazardous trees in the parks. Then we set up a program wherein seven local tree companies donated a day’s service each and removed dangerous trees.

I’m co-chairman of the CNYC’s planning committee with Mike Mahanna, a close friend and work colleague at Hamilton for 20 years. In 2014, on Friday, April 25, we hosted an educational safety program at the start of Arbor Day. We then divided up the tree companies into work groups and accomplished terrific work in hazard tree removal. On Saturday, with the Junior ROTC from Proctor High School, we planted ten bare root freeman maples (Acer x freemanii), a cross of red and silver maple, to replace the removed trees in T.R. Proctor Park.

What other ways have you been involved with urban forestry in Utica?
TH: I have been working with Dave Short of Utica Parks on tree programs as they relate to the Olmsted parks and parkway. I am very interested in being proactive to protect the ash trees from Emerald Ash Borer and have been working to that end with Utica.

I know the people who are actively involved with Utica’s urban forestry program. I have provided a lecture for them on “Tree Varieties and Their Pests” at an annual meeting in the Utica area. I believe they and a county coalition could team up to fight Emerald Ash Borer as has been done in Onondaga County. It’s something I would like to get formulated and working on.

What is your vision for urban forestry in Utica?
TH: Urban Forestry in Utica has many projects ahead of it. The first would be the complete inventory of trees by species and condition in the city. This would be followed up with a prescribed tree planting program and a tree maintenance program. The biggest hurdle for all cities is generating the funds needed to succeed. I believe the citizens of Utica can be mobilized to help plant new trees and maintain them. The Conservancy and the City can work together to achieve mutual goals.

What are your interests in your free time and something your colleagues might not know about you?
TH: I have a too-large vegetable garden that I enjoy trying to wrangle. I have beagles that I have bred to work in the field and I am an AKC field trial judge. I manage a family home on Cape Cod which I enjoy visiting, and I am on the eternal quest to catch striped bass.

I am generally a quiet person and stay away from groups although I have no problem talking to large groups. I enjoy being on the ocean and listening to its sounds.

My kids have called me L. Diesel (my initials are L.D.H.) because I tend to go right at problems with solutions and have been like that for 40 years. I am Grandpa Diesel to six grandkids under five years old—five girls and a newborn boy.

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