Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop to conduct tree climbing demos for 2019 GIE+EXPO

Photo: Women’s Tree Climbing WorkshopPhoto: Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop

New to GIE+EXPO this year, the trade show will feature women-led tree climbing workshops, which are included with registration.

The program ‘Climb Trees, Expand Your Horizons’ is presented by Davey Tree in collaboration with The Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop (WTCW), and is sponsored by Stihl with support from Shelter Tree.

The WTCW was co-founded by Melissa LeVangie Ingersoll, Bear LeVangie, Jan Kettell and Marcy Carpenter in 2009 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

The organization was founded after these four arborists were often asked about arborist training opportunities for women. At the time, exclusive training for women did not exist, so they decide to create the opportunity themselves.

Photo: Women’s Tree Climbing WorkshopPhoto: Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop

“Women are pigeon-holed into more traditional roles within the industry, such as sales, administration or plant health care technicians,” says Rebecca Seibel, lead instructor with WTCW and director of safety and training for Johnson Ops Tree Care, based in Holmen, Wisconsin.  “Those are all very important responsibilities, and yet I suspect there are a lot of excellent employees who happen to be women who never get a chance to develop into that best employee. We’re here to change that.”

WTCW started as a one-day event, progressed to overnights and camping and now has on-site lodging. According to LeVangie Ingersoll and LeVangie, they typically host three or four workshops a year, but they are ready to expand that number.

“The flagship workshop in New England is held in the fall to celebrate the timing of the fall foliage,” says Seibel. “We’ve been fortunate to add a Pacific Northwest workshop in spring and a Texas chapter workshop as well. Minnesota, California and Sweden also hosted one-time workshops.”

Any interested group that wants WTCW to host a workshop can contact the organization.

“We have a set of guidelines on what it takes to host this event,” Seibel says. “Planning takes about a year in order to pull off a successful workshop that meets all our site-specific standards.”

LeVangie Ingersoll and LeVangie say they are currently in talks for developing a Rocky Mountain Chapter event, a possible Southern Chapter, a workshop in Michigan and even one in New Zealand.

“The WTCW team will travel wherever there is sufficient demand,” Seibel says.

At GIE+EXPO, LeVangie Ingersoll, LeVangie, Seibel, Alex Julius and Emmett Shutts will provide climbing instructions on Oct. 16-18 in the expo center’s Freedom Hall, covering topics such as tree entry, movement and work positioning and descent.

“What arborists do can be something of a mystery,” Seibel says. “We will be able to show how a climbing arborist works, what good tree care looks like and focus on the importance of hiring educated professionals. Arboriculture can be very dangerous, and mistakes often have serious consequences. Bear, Melissa and I are extremely excited for the GIE opportunity.”

Photo: Women’s Tree Climbing WorkshopPhoto: Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop

LeVangie Ingersoll, LeVangie and Seibel say they selected their presentation topics to be interesting and engaging with a lot of attendee interaction. At the end of the show, they will actively rig and remove their demo tree.

“This is a unique chance to highlight opportunities in arboriculture and spotlight some talented female arborists,” says Sandra Reid, vice president of corporate communications and strategic planning at Davey Tree. “It should be a great time for the attendees to learn from the best of the best, and we hope many arborists – new and experienced – are able to be there.”

LeVangie Ingersoll, LeVangie and Seibel hope to eliminate the common trial by fire training that occurs with arboriculture.

“People have different learning styles: some are more visual, some learn by listening but many in the landscape industry learn best when they can get their hands on gear,” Seibel says. “We’ve found that quality instruction is well received. Gender (of the instructor or learner) becomes irrelevant when the content and delivery style excel.”

Many assume tree care is simply removing tree branches but LeVangie Ingersoll, LeVangie and Seibel say there is much more to arboriculture than that.

“An arborist is defined as a professional who practices the art and science of tree care,” Seibel says. “A good arborist is like a good doctor. Our first edict is do no harm. We have industry standards for safety and best management practices for everything. As a professional, it’s a matter of self-respect to know and follow these standards.”

LeVangie Ingersoll, LeVangie and Seibel expect the tree care demos will become a recurring event at GIE due to the importance of trees in landscapes.

“Women are an increasingly important part of the arborist and tree care professions, and investing in their professional development is vital,” says Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager with Stihl Inc. “That is why programs like this one are so important, and why we at Stihl are so proud to join Davey Tree in presenting it.”

Below is the full schedule of demonstrations at GIE+EXPO.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Intro to Climbing: Job Briefing, PPE, Purpose and Approach

4:45 – 5:45 p.m.

Basic Climbing Techniques: Climbing Equipment and Systems

Thursday, Oct. 17

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Tree Entry: Throwline, Rope Installation and Tie-in-points

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Access, Ascent (Closed vs. Open System) and Movement

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Movement & Work Positioning

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Safety, Descent, and Equipment Management

Friday, Oct. 18

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Tools of the Trade

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Climbing Systems: Stationary and Moving Rope Strategies and Basics of Rigging

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