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Melissa LeVangie: Millard F. Blair Excep...

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of ARBORIST NEWS, a publication of International Society of Arboriculture ( This content is reprinted with full permission of the publisher.


Melissa LeVangie’s devotion to arboriculture now spans two decades; her work as a climber and consultant, as well as her role as an influential instructor and friend, lives and breathes a passion for trees.

Last year, she was awarded the Millard F. Blair Exceptional Contribution to Practical Arboriculture Award for her discernment, and for her boundless capacity to encourage others to become better listeners and better learners if they wish to become better arborists. LeVangie is a strong believer in maintaining a community of friends who are enthusiastic, empowered, and ready to make a difference. She is warmly acknowledged by her peers for her role as a co-founder and driving force behind the Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop.

Unfailingly, LeVangie is solid. Lauded for her energy and her confidence, and respected for her emotion and her diligence, LeVangie has a passion for safe and effective tree care practices that hits you at your core. She has worked as a practicing arborist for many years, providing consulting-arborist services throughout central Massachusetts, U.S., while also currently working as the director of marketing and sales for Shelter Tree, Inc., a Massachusetts-based gear-supply company.

She is deeply connected to the ISA New England Chapter and the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association, among other local and regional efforts. As the tree warden for Petersham, Massachusetts, U.S., she doubled the town budget for tree care in two short years and did wonders for raising the profile and importance of arboriculture among municipal leaders and landowners alike.

LeVangie’s knowledge is something to behold. She has been instrumental in building and sustaining a national network of women who work in and around trees. The Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop, since its initial launch in 2009, is proof positive of the value and impact of smart, dedicated, and personalized instruction. The workshop’s ongoing success, by extension, is further evidence of LeVangie’s knack for inspiring others.

The Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop brings together women of multiple levels of climbing experience (no-skill to high-skill), from across the country, to engage, to network, and to breathe in the wonders of tree climbing.

From setting up climbing lines using throwlines and friction saving devices, to securing various knots to facilitate different climbing systems, to understanding how to move safely and comfortably throughout the canopy using a lanyard . . . The workshop is a two-to-three–day learning exchange, crafted to maximize the strengths and intelligence of each attendee, providing women with the opportunity to climb in a safe, supportive, and informative environment.

The workshop allows an individual’s hard work to speak for itself, but as many past participants eagerly note, the event’s success hinges greatly on integrating a celebration of community, professional education, and personal responsibility.

LeVangie has inspired numerous women to excel in arboriculture as professionals. The Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop has instilled in many a renewed excitement for their career or individual goals—facets of personal development that go much deeper than the average reservoir reserved for technical competency or gear familiarity. Tree care is a complex industry, and opportunities for women of all abilities to network and grow their careers are sparse. LeVangie knows that any opportunity to hold open the door for individuals whom are new to arboriculture is absolutely essential.



Saluting Branches Continues to Grow and ...

by Brandon Gallagher Watson

Saluting Branches began as a national service project conceived by TCIA Member, Rainbow Treecare, in 2013 with the first event taking place in 2015. Working in partnership with the US Department of Veteran Affairs National Cemetery Administration (VA), the inaugural event was held at 27 local and national cemeteries. At the time, the VA thought the project sounded great but suggested it begin with no more than 5 – 10 sites as pulling off a successful event at two dozen locations was a big task for a volunteer organization. They were amazed when over 1,000 arborists showed up that first year and established Saluting Branches as one of the most successful charitable service days that benefits the VA every year. From those original 27 sites, the project has grown to include 45 veteran memorial cemeteries across 38 States in just its third year.

The Third Annual Saluting Branches: Arborists United for Veteran Remembrance is set to take place on September 20th, 2017 and, with an estimated 2,000 volunteers, it will be one of the largest service events in our industry’s history. “As an arborist it is an honor to participate in this collaborative event. To give one day to honor those who gave their life so that we can enjoy a rewarding career is the least that any of us can do. As we increase our knowledge of what trees actually do for us as humans the role of the arborist becomes increasingly important, but never more important than the role those who defended our freedom. After all with out their sacrifice, none of what we do would be the same.” This quote comes from Joe Shaw, an arborist with The Davey Tree Expert Co. but it could have come from any of the thousands of volunteers who have taken part in this meaningful event.

While the project started with the intention of providing professional arborist services at national cemeteries, the scope of the project has expanded to “honor American service men and women by organizing volunteer tree and landscape care for the land and property dedicated to our veterans.” This larger vision allows for volunteers with landscaping and turf science backgrounds. It also allows for growth into other memorial sites such as veteran monuments, state veteran cemeteries, or and even sites dedicated to US Military personnel beyond the borders of the United States. In 2016, Saluting Branches had its first day of service at the Mexico City National Cemetery, a site established in 1851 to inter the remains of US soldiers lost during the Mexican-American War.

The growth of the project is the result of individual arborists stepping up to take on a veteran site nearby and meaningful to them. New sites for 2017, including cemeteries in Utah, Montana, Michigan, Arkansas, and south Florida, have all been added because an arborist contacted Saluting Branches through the website or Facebook and requested more information on how to get this started in their community. Many of those who reach out end up becoming Site Leader. Site Leaders play a pivotal role in making the day of service a success for our industry. They coordinate and manage the work, equipment and people at a designated cemetery. Saluting Branches would truly not be possible without these folks taking a leadership role in make this happen on the ground.

Saluting Branches, as a non-profit association, continues to grow as well. While it started as a community service project within Rainbow Treecare, Saluting Branches is now established as its own 501(c)(3) charitable organization. This allows for financial support from sponsors and partners to be tax-deductible donations and sets the groundwork for the future expansion the project into its own self-sustaining charity. Within this, a Board of Directors has been established and was proud to welcome Paul Sellers, a system forester with NSTAR Energy. Paul is the first non-Rainbow Treecare Board member and will help guide the organization over his two-year term.

Sponsorships, both from individuals and companies, are integral to the support of the project. With 45 veteran properties eager to participate, support from industry leaders including Rainbow Treecare, ACRT, Inc., The Davey Tree Expert Company, STIHL®, and Petzl®, make it possible to expand the experience and grow the reach. The financial contributions cover meals for the thousands of volunteers, helping with administration and marketing costs, and allowing for volunteer appreciation gifts. Additional sponsor partners include Arborwear, Teufelberger, SavaTree, Guardair, AirSpade Division, Jarraff Industries, RDO, Banditt, Anderberg Printing, ArborMAX, At Height, Teupen Lifts, Tree Stuff, TCIA, ISA, and UAA.

While it is easy to get caught up in the planning, organizing, and logistics of the event, no Saluting Branches volunteer ever losses sight of why we are here and the contribution this Day of Service provides. “Our ability to contribute to the upkeep and beauty of these sites is a small token of appreciation for which I am deeply touched and honored to be a part of,” says Matt Bartelme from TCIA member company, Barts Tree Service. “The 2015 inaugural event was a great opportunity for our organization to give back to our fallen heroes and help to show them the respect that they deserve. Our company is honored to be of service again this year and and we look forward to another fantastic event,” reflected Daniel Reposh from Homer Tree in Illinois. Ask anyone who has participated in Saluting Branches and you’ll find arborists who are dedicated using their skills to make these sacred sites safer and more beautiful for all who visit.

For more information on Saluting Branches and to find a site near you, please visit

Leading Thoughts...

by J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

My 5:30 a.m. walks across the Chicago Loop to Union Station have been getting increasingly brisk and dark of late, even as the first hints of color are appearing among the leaves around TREE Fund’s office in Naperville, Illinois. As it often does, the imminent arrival of autumn gets me to thinking about change, and what it will bring, and how it will be managed. I suspect I am not alone in that seasonal reflection.

It occurs to me that those of us who work in the tree care and related green industries are, at bottom line, managing the process of change. Sometimes that change is slow and predictable: we work with developers and landscape architects to create new green spaces according to plans, we help homeowners and businesses manage their growing and aging green stock, and we formulate the inevitable end of life plans that come when over-mature trees begin to fail, creating safety risks.

Sometimes, of course, change comes at us more quickly and profoundly than we would like, as our colleagues responding to hurricane and wildfire damage this month all too clearly understand. Beneath all of those slow and fast changes, though, one thing needs to remain constant: a shared commitment to rigorous, scientific research as the cornerstone upon which we build our plans, actions, and responses, to safely ensure and protect life, property and the environment.

TREE Fund is changing too. We are rolling out new grant lines on an almost annual basis, shifting emphasis toward endowment building in lieu of event-based fundraising, and embracing “friendraising” and community engagement as fundamental components of our mission, so that we may open the circle to new philanthropic partners. And the constant cornerstone that makes all of that possible, of course, is the faithful support of so many individuals and organizations who believe in and empower our efforts.

TREE Fund celebrated its 15th anniversary of working on your behalf in July 2017. Between now and December, we will be rolling out a 15th Anniversary Operating Appeal, and I am hopeful that you will continue to empower us as positive change agents by supporting it. It is your belief in our work that makes it so rewarding, and upon which our commitment to your safety and success remains – and that is one thing that will never change.

September 2017 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.

Asplundh Tree Expert Co. Elects Scott M....


Willow Grove, PA –The board of the Asplundh Tree Expert Co., the nation’s largest utility vegetation management company, has elected Scott M. Asplundh to the position of chairman of the board and chief executive officer (CEO). With 37 years of experience in field operations and corporate management, he represents the highest level of leadership within the third generation family members who now manage this international corporation based in the Philadelphia area.

Although Scott Asplundh has already served as the CEO for seven years, the board chose to add the responsibilities of board chairman since the health of former Chairman Christopher B. Asplundh, Sr. was declining in July. He passed away peacefully at his home in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania on August 10, 2017 at the age of 77.
In the months before his passing, Chris Asplundh, Sr. expressed his confidence in the leadership experience that Scott has attained through his many years of meeting challenges and building successes for the company. Founded in 1928 by three brothers, the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. is a family-owned and managed corporation that primarily performs utility vegetation management, but also provides a variety of services for utility infrastructure. The corporation and its subsidiaries employ over 35,000 men and women throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Asplundh joined the company full-time in 1980 after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Lawrence University in New York. He went on to earn an MBA from Pennsylvania State University in 1982. Although he had worked part-time since 1976 on various tree crews as a college student, Mr. Asplundh spent the next several years gaining more field experience with assignments in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois. In late 1987, after two years as a field manager of Asplundh operations in Missouri and eastern Kansas, he was elected vice president and returned to the corporate headquarters in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

As the company expanded and diversified in the 1990s, Mr. Asplundh took on oversight responsibility for several field management regions in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, as well as subsidiary operations in utility construction and underground locating. In January 2001, he was elected president of the company and in September 2010, the board of directors elected him CEO.

Mr. Asplundh is a member of various industry organizations including the International Society of Arboriculture, the Utility Arborist Association and the Tree Care Industry Association and is an active participant in Edison Electric Institute conferences. He currently serves as the chairman of the Electrical Transmission and Distribution Strategic Partnership in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which focuses on reducing fatalities and injuries for employees who work near or on power lines. He is a leader in implementing telematics for the corporation’s equipment fleet and in 2013, he earned Penn State University’s Smeal Graduate Distinguished Achievement Award.

Residing in Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania, Mr. Asplundh and his wife of 37 years, Hali, are the parents of two adult children, Madeleine and Jared.
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Ohio University Seeking Graduate Student...

One of our TREE Fund researchers asked us to pass this along:


We are looking for a capable student to join our Forest Ecology research group at the Masters or PhD level beginning in January 2018.  Our research broadly considers the structure and dynamics of forest communities in human-shaped ecosystems.  The incoming student will participate in a study examining the role of street and roadside trees in shaping the urban microclimate and the long-term effects of trees on pavement condition.  In addition to research commitments, the student will take courses and occasionally serve as teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology.  The position is fully funded including tuition waivers.

Applicants should have a GPA of at least 3.4 and GRE scores above the 65th percentile.  A strong work ethic, quantitative skills, and the ability work independently are essential.  Applicants should be physically fit and capable of field work in less-than-ideal conditions.  Previous field experience is desirable.

The Department of Environmental and Plant Biology ( ) is a community of mutually supportive faculty and students at Ohio University.  The University is situated in the small city of Athens, nestled in the forested hills of the Allegheny Plateau.  Application procedures are described at

If you are interested please contact Glenn Matlack at  See his web page at .

August 2017 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.

Christopher B. Asplundh, Sr. 1939 -2017...

NEWS RELEASE          

Date:   August 14, 2017

Christopher B. Asplundh, Sr. 1939-2017

Willow Grove, PA — Christopher Brooke Asplundh, Sr., chairman of the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. board of directors, passed away peacefully in his Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania home on August 10, 2017 at the age of 77 after a long battle with cancer. The family-owned and managed company, based in Willow Grove, employs over 35,000 people in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to being a leading vegetation management contractor, the corporation also provides utility infrastructure, commercial landscaping and snow removal services.

“The energy and leadership that Chris put into this company was tremendous.  The way he shared his knowledge and experience was always appreciated and will be greatly missed,” said CEO Scott M. Asplundh.

Born on August 26, 1939 just north of Philadelphia in Bryn Athyn, Mr. Asplundh was the son of the late Carl Hjalmar Asplundh, one of the three brothers who founded the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. in 1928. He attended the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn and then started working for the company on various tree crews in 1957. Mr. Asplundh continued part-time tree work while attending college. In 1962, he graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and then served in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Mr. Asplundh began his career with the company in 1963, overseeing line clearance operations in Illinois, New Jersey and the New England states.  In 1968, he was elected vice president and moved back to work in the company’s headquarters in Jenkintown (now located in nearby Willow Grove).

Over the next two decades his executive responsibilities continued to grow and before his election to company president in 1992, he was overseeing the operations of 12 field divisions throughout the U.S., as well as the corporation’s Safety Department. Mr. Asplundh was named chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of the board in 2001. Nine years later, he retained his chairman position when Scott M. Asplundh was elected CEO. 

A 54-year company veteran who led the organization through exponential growth and major industry and economic changes, Mr. Asplundh was also a champion of the “Reimagine Cancer Care” capital campaign of the Abington Health Foundation to help build the Asplundh Cancer Pavilion just around the corner from the company’s headquarters in Willow Grove. He served on various charitable and non-profit boards, and was an avid sportsman and outdoorsman who was passionate about wildlife and its preservation.

Mr. Asplundh is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ellen; son Executive Vice President Chris Asplundh, Jr.; daughter Meredith and her husband, Timothy Gardner; grandchildren Alexander and Paige Gardner; brothers Carl, Jr. and Edward who also served the company in executive leadership roles; sister Emily Jane Lemole; as well as extended Asplundh family members in the company and around the world. 

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July 2017 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.

June 2017 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.

Need funding? You have come to the right place.

Applications for competitive research grants, the Ohio Chapter ISA Education Grant Program, and all scholarships open Jan. 15.

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