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.
Nichole LeClair Terrill