Spring 2011 TREE Fund Report: TREE Fund and Partners Support “Green Collar” Training in NYC

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TREE Fund and Partners Support Green Collar Training in NYC

Trees have a tough time in the urban environment, but city planners know the value that trees bring to urban communities. Millions of trees are planted each year in cities throughout the world, raising the question of who will care for these new trees, to maintain their health and ensure public safety and reliable electricity?

MillionTreesNYC EventNew York City’s MillionTreesNYC program aims to plant and care for one million new trees in the city’s five boroughs by 2017. For the past two years, the TREE Fund has been helping to connect young New Yorkers in search of a career path with the city’s growing need for skilled tree care workers through the MillionTreesNYC Training Program (MTTP). This public/private ‘green collar jobs’ program is managed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the New York Restoration Project. Each session provides seven months of paid on-the-job training in arboriculture, ecological restoration or landscape design and gardening for unemployed young adults.

The TREE Fund became involved in 2009 when, at the request of the City of New York, the TREE Fund enlisted Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Bartlett Tree Experts, The Davey Tree Expert Company and STIHL Inc. to donate two weeks of professional chain saw and climbing instruction for each class of MTTP trainees, to supplement their on-the-job arboriculture training with the city.

“This generosity demonstrates the level of professionalism and leadership these companies possess,” says Executive Director Janet Bornancin. “I’m proud of these partners and I know their contribution is making a difference in the lives of the trainees as well as the future of tree care.”

Two years into their 5-year commitment, the 15 arboriculture instructors have seen the program gaining traction. The application process for trainees is arduous, and includes a written application, references, personal interviews and a field test. Only 33 of 373 applicants were accepted into the 2010-2011 class, and those that made it into the arboriculture program impressed the trainers with their energy and determination.

“No matter what we were doing, you could tell they were really listening because their questions were all really good,” said Pat Flynn of Bartlett Tree Experts.

“I saw really great interaction between the trainees and trainers over both weeks,” added Tim Walsh of the Asplundh Tree Expert Co. “I also think the trainees really supported each other and it was great to work together with other companies on a positive project.”

Steve Nagy of The Davey Tree Expert Company agreed. “The MillionTrees Training Program is a great example of how professionals from the industry can come together and share their expertise with a group of young people who are interested in the green industry.”

“The MillionTreesNYC Training Program cultivates a new generation of green collar workers who will be the future stewards of New York City’s greenspace,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “With intensive training in tree care, ecological restoration, and landscape design and gardening, graduates of this program will help green communities throughout the five boroughs to establish a more sustainable city. We are grateful to our public-private partnership with the TREE Fund which supports the MillionTreesNYC Training Program.”

The next step is a job fair on April 7, at which the goal is to connect all MTTP trainees to jobs with local or national companies or public agencies. To learn more about the TREE Fund education programs and the MillionTreesNYC Training Program, visit https://treefund.org/grants

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