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Why Would You Do That?! Life as a Tree Surgeon

Imagine your office is 40 feet in the air. For some, it is.

This week’s post comes from one of our lead climbers, Gabe Waterhouse. You may have seen him in our posts, dragging brush, running a saw, or climbing high.  This week he wanted to share some insight on why he loves this job.

As I was entering adulthood I had no idea that there was an industry known as arboriculture. I especially had no idea that there were opportunities to be paid for climbing trees. So it took about six years of exploring different options in work and school to stumble across a horticulture class at St. Louis Community College. Before the first class wrapped up I was hooked on the idea of working in this field. So much so I decided to pursue a degree in forestry and eventually become an arborist.

As an arborist there are many different disciplines to consider. You must first know about trees. This is what initially drew me to the field. It is essential to know how trees respond to pests and diseases, how trees interact with each other and the environment around them, and to know the life history traits of each species you work with. This is an area that you could spend your entire life studying and still have much more to learn than you will ever know. It ensures that you will never run out of material.

Certified arborist, Gabe Waterhouse

Another aspect of the industry that isn’t necessary for everyone to get into, but certainly appealed to me is climbing trees. There are many different tricks of the trade involved with climbing trees. First you must learn an array of knots that are used to help you get into the tree. Then you must learn how to manage your equipment in order to access different parts of the tree such as the tips of the limbs. Once you have mastered these techniques you are ready to begin pruning and removing branches with a handsaw or chainsaw. Before you begin doing any of this you will have to be exemplary in knowing all of the required safety standards. And finally you will have the chance to master the art of rigging. This is lowering different parts of the tree using ropes, an array of different knots, pulleys, blocks, carabiners, and lots more equipment that is currently being developed to make this aspect of the industry safer and more efficient.

Gabe going out on limb to safely prune over a house

In arboriculture, I have found the ideal occupation. In my mind, it is the perfect combination of labor and intellect. Although it is ideal for some, I have never been one to stand idle or sit at a desk. This occupation is very laborious at times. I also love to learn about trees, and I know that I will never run short on material to study. Finally, I truly care about trees, so it is perfect that I have found a job where I can take care of them. I have always heard people discuss the importance of loving your job and I always thought they were crazy. Who loves to go to work? Although some days seem more like work than others, I have found a job that I definitely enjoy doing more times than not.


If any of this sounds like an ideal position for you, let us know. We’re hiring!

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