Mark Hoenigman: A Profile in Professionalism

This is a wonderful piece on TREE Fund supporter and former Trustee, Mark Hoenigman of Ohio. Mark was the driving force behind a unique collaboration between NASA and The Morton Arboretum to study how NASA’s ARAMIS digital imaging technology (developed to measure stress in the skin of the space shuttle) might be applied to tree risk assessment. Read about this research, funded by a John Z. Duling Grant from the TREE Fund, here.


Article by Janet Huber, Corporate Communications Manager at ISA. Republished from the April 2015 issue of Arborist News with the permission of the International Society of Arboriculture.

What does it tell you about ISA True Professional Mark Hoenigman when more than 50 research scientists, educators, and commercial, municipal, and utility arborists sign a petition supporting his nomination for an ISA award? During the 2013 Biomechanics Research Week at the Davey Research Farm in Shalersville, Ohio, U.S., this is exactly what happened as a means of honoring Mark for his dedicated efforts in the creation, organization, and implementation of both the 2010 and 2013 Biomechanics Research Weeks.

The Origin of Biomechanics Week

Mark is an ISA Certified Arborist® and Tree Worker Climber Specialist®, and is owner of Busy Bee Services, Ltd., in Novelty, Ohio. He says the concept of Biomechanics Week was born while talking over dinner with colleagues at the 2009 ISA Annual International Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. The idea of bringing research teams together from around the world to conduct experiments and share ideas, research methods, and results quickly gained momentum as strong interest was generated in the arboricultural research community.

A new project cannot get off the ground without funding, and Biomechanics Week was no exception. When The Davey Tree Expert Company learned about the plans for this event, it pledged full, in-kind support by offering use of the Davey Research Farm and onsite staff assistance. ISA and BioCompliance also stepped up to support the project, followed by generous contributions from a committed group of organizations that included the Arboricultural Research and Education Academy, the Utility Arborist Association, the TREE Fund, the ISA Ohio Chapter, USDA Forest Service, SherrillTree, STIHL, and of course, Busy Bee Services.

Ohio’s Stone Soup Approach

In organizing Biomechanics Week, additional concerns surfaced in terms of determining the type of equipment needed (and providing the necessary quantity of equipment needed) to support research teams using various mechanical methods in their studies. Mark is known for his commitment to education and helping early-career arborists receive training and networking opportunities with more experienced tree care professionals. He is involved with several arborist groups in Ohio that work together to provide free or inexpensive education and training by incorporating what they call the “stone soup approach.” This refers to organizers and participants contributing whatever they can—knowledge, time, equipment, food—and through their combined efforts providing all of the elements needed to support the event (see “Stone Soup at Biomechanics Week” by Alan Siewert; Arborist News, December 2010).

The Ohio arborists did not hesitate to do the same for Biomechanics Week, and Mark was instrumental in providing needs as they emerged. While the researchers brought their specialized equipment, Mark donated the use of his air knife, compressor, stump grinder, winch, and a variety of other tools. And this involved many trips to and from Busy Bee Services, a 30-minute drive from the Davey Research Farm, which he did willingly as needs arose. Mark views a problem as a challenge to solve rather than a barrier. He worked tirelessly to help research teams resolve many challenges along the way so that they could accomplish what they had intended for the research week.

The question of how to feed a large group of hungry researchers, students, and climbers was resolved using the same approach. Volunteers brought in various lunch options, and evening cook-outs offered delicious dinner fare. One evening, Mark displayed his culinary skills by overseeing a hog roast, with other delicious contributions from his wife, Janet. They created a dinner so marvelous and memorable that they did it again by popular demand for the 2013 Biomechanics Research Week.

Biomechanics Week 2013

Mark feels the success of the 2010 Biomechanics Research Week was not only the published research results but also the relationships formed during this intensive week of discovery, which concluded with a symposium that featured project presentations. The 2010 event generated so much enthusiasm that discussions began soon afterwards about planning a second Biomechanics Week in 2013. Mark was an active promoter and spent a good deal of time prior to the 2013 event working with researchers to develop testing equipment.

According to Siewert (Ohio Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division), “It is a widely held opinion by those who attended both research weeks that if it were not for the skill, dedication, and generosity of Mark, the first week in 2010 would not have been so successful, and the second in 2013 probably would not have happened.”

What does it tell you about ISA True Professional Mark Hoenigman when more than 50 research scientists, educators, and commercial, municipal, and utility arborists sign a petition supporting his nomination for an ISA award? It tells you that he is an exemplary role model for other arborists, one who “walks the talk” and demonstrates the finest qualities of an ISA True Professional of Arboriculture.