Melissa LeVangie: Millard F. Blair Exceptional Contribution to Practical Arboriculture Award, 2016
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of ARBORIST NEWS, a publication of International Society of Arboriculture (isa-arbor.com). 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.