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 is your current position title and responsibilities?
KS: I currently work with Davey Resource Group as a Project Manager for the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Eradication Program in NYC. In this position, I manage about 45 team members between Brooklyn and Long Island’s ALB quarantine areas. Some of my duties include hiring and training staff, coordinating progression, ensuring high quality survey of ALB host trees, creating and maintaining accurate data, providing deliverables to our client, and corresponding with NYC residents. I also assist with training management and field staff for new projects coming out of our NYC office.
How did you get turned on to the Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI)?
KS: It was recommended to me by my manager, John Platt, who attended MFI in the past. Subsequently, a few coworkers enthusiastically expressed how excited they were for me to have the opportunity to attend and assured me I would enjoy it.
What was the most surprising thing to you about MFI?
KS: I had already heard how great MFI would be, so the DIVERSITY was most surprising. I arrived at our airport pickup point, and the visual diversity was a beautiful sight. Diversity was present in various aspects, from professional experience and the knowledge that accompanied that, the personal experiences shared, geographic locations people traveled from (Mexico, Canada and all over the U.S.), culture, race, and gender. [MFI 2019 was cultivated and funded by the organizers (Society of Municipal Arborists, U.S. Forest Service, and Southern University) so as to be the first-ever “Diversity in MFI” themed MFI.]
What was your biggest a-ha moment?
KS: My biggest a-ha moment was cumulative of many instances where I had to push through any doubtful thoughts I briefly entertained about “having” to network. I don’t feel confident in a large group of strangers, so I feared I would be a wallflower for the entire week. The great thing about the structure of MFI, however, is that each topic we cover is then put into practice during a group activity. The group changes daily as well as within the same day, so you get to know each other. It would be a useful experience even for an introverted personality.
What is one thing you learned that you are going to apply in practice back in your job?
KS: I especially liked the personality test we took at MFI as it went over how different leadership styles can interact in a group and how a good balance of these styles is necessary for a group to function cohesively towards achieving goals. On an individual and group basis it can help identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie so you can improve.
What would you say to people who are thinking about attending MFI?
KS: MFI gives you the opportunity to experience a group of passionate advocates for our environment who have a wealth of knowledge to share. You will either learn new skills or sharpen the tools you already have in your tool box. It will revitalize you and spark new ideas for your work and life goals.
Any last words?
KS: Many thanks to NYSUFC and to my managers, John and Carolyn at Davey Resource Group, for investing in my development. Also, thanks to the MFI Teaching Cadre, including fellow Davey member Andy Hillman, for creating a great initiative to strengthen leaders in urban forestry. It was truly a wonderful experience.