Wisconsin answers arborist industry’s call with apprentice program

Updated Apr 10, 2017
Joint aerial rescue training between Northwest Arboriculture and Sonshine Tree Care. Photo: Daniel Harman, Sonshine Tree CareJoint aerial rescue training between Northwest Arboriculture and Sonshine Tree Care.
Photo: Daniel Harman, Sonshine Tree Care

With a rising demand for arborists in the state, Wisconsin has launched an arborist apprentice program to help fill the gap with trained workers.

This apprenticeship is structured to provide both on-the-job training with journey workers and classroom learning. It is sponsored by employers, employer associations or labor/management groups that can hire and train apprentices in real world applications.

The arborist industry reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development in an effort to create standardized training for the profession.

The department is also presenting the program to the U.S. Department of Labor for consideration as a federal program, as the industry is hoping to create a national standard for arborists.

As more trees are planted for green initiatives, more arborists are needed to help prune, diagnose and treat the trees.

“Arborists are highly skilled professionals, providing all aspects of tree care from planting and pruning, to managing fertility, diseases and insects through plant-healthcare services,” Ron Zillmer, associate dean at Mid-State Technical College, told Agri-View.

Zillmer is leading the arborist industry’s involvement of the program in Wisconsin.

The program takes three and a half years to complete, and includes 6,560 hours of on-the-job training and 440 hours of paid instruction.

The program teaches workers how to identify common trees and shrubs in the employer’s region, proper rigging (both on the ground and in the tree), how to climb trees safely, chipper and chainsaw operation, tree and shrub pruning, and standard plant care practices.

Apprentices are required to obtain a State of Wisconsin Pesticide Applicator Certification, earn the International Society of Arboriculture Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist credential, and be certified in first aid and CPR.

For more information about the program, click here.

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