Wild Jobs: Tree Climber Ryan Russell

By | August 1, 2012
From Xplor: August/September 2012

Arborist Ryan Russell goes out on a limb to keep trees healthy.

Q: What does an arborist do?

A: Arborists are like tree doctors. When trees get sick, I figure out what’s wrong and try to fix the problem. If trees are undernourished, I give them fertilizer. Sometimes trees need dead, broken or diseased branches removed, so I climb up and trim them off.

Q: Doesn’t that harm the tree?

A: No, it actually keeps it healthy. Removing branches keeps diseases from spreading and helps the tree heal faster.

Q: What’s the worst part of your job?

A: Trimming pin oaks. They have tons of sharp, pointy branches. Cut limbs get hung up in lower branches, and I usually climb out of a pin oak feeling like a pin cushion.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A: Climbing trees for a living is pretty cool.

Q: Cool, yes. But isn’t it dangerous?

A: I’ve gone through lots of training to learn how to do it safely. I always wear a helmet, a climbing harness and other safety gear. I inspect the gear before each use to make sure it’s not damaged. And, I always work alongside another arborist to help watch for dangers.

Q: How long have you been climbing trees?

A: When I was a kid, I learned to shimmy up a hickory sapling until it started to bend then ride it to the ground. I’ve been climbing trees ever since.

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White
Kipp Woods