Are you looking for a way turn a love of trees into a meaningful and rewarding career? You may want to consider a career in arboriculture. This field involves both the scientific study and physical care of trees, shrubs, vines, and other woody plants. To learn more about what is involved with a career in arboriculture from an expert, we were fortunate to interview Dr. Brian Kane of UMass Amherst for How Do You Science. Dr. Kane was generous to share his professional experiences with our HDYS readers:
Dr. Brian Kane, ISA Cert. Arb. #NY-0448
MA Arborists Association Professor
Dept. of Environmental Conservation
1. What do you do for work and how does it use science or STEM principles?
My job has three parts: teaching, research, and outreach. I use science in all of them. I try to incorporate the scientific method in all of my teaching and outreach work (outreach is partly interacting with consumers and professionals to help them understand and practice proper tree care). And I obviously use science when I conduct experiments.
2. What level of schooling or training does someone need to get this job?
Most jobs at public universities require a Ph.D., but there are some that require only a Master’s degree.
3. What is the most unique/enjoyable part of your job?
I get to be my own boss most of the time. For example, I can decide which research projects to work on, and, with some limitations, which classes I teach.
4. How did you become interested in doing the job you have?
I used to be a professional arborist, and I became interested in teaching and research when I realized that there are many aspects of Arboriculture that needed to be studied experimentally.
5. What advice would you give someone hoping to find a job in your profession?
I would encourage anyone who likes being outside to consider a career in Arboriculture. It’s a great way to make a living, there are plenty of career opportunities in New England (and across the country, too), and there are different mental and physical challenges on every job you do. It’s also critical to obtain a good education in Math and the sciences. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are part of nearly every aspect of Arboriculture. For example, you need to understand soil chemistry if you want to fertilize a tree to help it grow, and you need to understand physics to know how big a branch you can rig safely from the tree to the ground.
6. If someone wanted to learn more about the type of work you do, where can they learn more?
The best thing to do is enroll in the UMass Pre-College program in Arboriculture. Any high school student can enroll, and we teach all the basics of Arboriculture. If you’re old enough, you can also try to find a summer job with a tree care company—just make sure the company has a Certified Arborist on staff and that they have the proper insurance.
Dr. Kane provided some great real-life information for anyone who may be interested in learning more about a career in arboriculture. Perhaps you aren't sure if pursuing a Ph.D. is for you, but there are still many different opportunities to work within this field at many different levels. If you are interested in learning more from Dr. Kane about the many different aspects of his profession, he can be contacted by email at bkane[at]eco.umass.edu or through his UMass webpage.
Before you leave, check out some of these related videos from Dr. Kane and visit their UMass Arbor Facebook page to see arboriculture in action.
Now it’s not every day that an animal comes back from the brink of extinction, but the little rabbit known as the New England Cottontail has done just that. The New England Cottontail is the area's only native rabbit and at one time had a large population. Due to significant habitat loss, the New England Cottontail population shrunk to just five locations around the region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2006, it was classified as a candidate for endangered protection. As of September 2015, the New England Cottontail was declassified as a result of conservation efforts. It took an organized collaboration from state and federal agencies, private companies, animal organizations, universities, and many more groups to save the New England Cottontail. Preventing an animal from being an endangered species is a tall order, but that’s where people in the wildlife conservation field come in. If you are interested in working with wildlife, here are just a few careers to consider.
A Wildlife Biologist researches and monitors wildlife and their habitats. They can collect data on many different things like diseases, behaviors, genetics, nutrition, population dynamics, etc. They use this information to help animal species and their environment.
For more info, go to the EnvironmentalScience.org
A Wildlife Rehabilitator treats and cares for injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals so that they can be released back to the wild.
For more info, go to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.
Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer
A Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer is responsible for enforcing wildlife laws and regulations. They also do population surveys and educate the public about wildlife.
For more info, go to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement.
A Wildlife Technician works with a Wildlife Biologist or Manager to help collect data on animals and their habitats.
For more info, go to Eco Canada.
Wildlife Educator/Park Ranger
Wildlife Educators teach the public about wildlife and conservation. They also take important scientific data and explain it to the public in a way that is relatable. They can teach to all different age groups, from kids to adults. They also may work hands-on with educational animals to help engage the public. A big part of a Park Ranger’s job is to educate the public like a Wildlife Educator, but they also are responsible for protecting public land.
For more info, go to: ParkRanger.edu and Zooniversity.org
A Wildlife Inspector seizes illegal animal shipments for the pet trade. They usually work at ports of entry to the U.S. and have a very important job in helping stop illegal dealings with wild animals.
For more info, go to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Today marks the first celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Last December, the United Nations passed a resolution to celebrate women working in science and their contributions to the field.
While men may outnumber women in most STEM careers (only 22% of environmental scientists are women!), some fields have a higher percentage of women that you might have thought:
By jump-starting girls’ interest in STEM subjects and by recognizing strong female role models, we can begin to break the stereotype. Encourage those around you to pursue their interests! Check out libraries, museums, documentaries … the resources are endless. All you need is have the courage to follow your passions!
For more inspiration, check out this article from ABC News featuring 5 top female scientists!
Five women making strides in the science world
As a science nerd I am always on the lookout for new information, seeking out websites that give useful and reliable information. One that will inspire me to read further, experiment more and just get excited about science! Recently, I came across a website that is one of the best resources I have found in a long time. It’s called the National Science Digital Library and it’s got everything and anything you could ever look for in the STEM realm.
When you first navigate to the webpage you will see that it is simply designed. A menu bar at the top of the website guides you through different search categories. What I like about this website is that I can be very specific in what I’m searching for, or go broad and browse through the results. If you are a student researching a paper or project, you can search by subject or material type. If you are a teacher, you can search by academic standard and grade level. It’s feels like using Google … but much more streamlined in terms of the quality of result you will discover.
The greatest advantage is that the results from your search will be high quality, meaning that the sources you find are from accredited universities, colleges, societies, or federal and state institutions. Also, these sources are FREE! In my search for quality resources I often feel hindered by the requirement of creating accounts or paying for some materials with unreliable information, so the free resources on this site were a relief to find. In the event that there is a cost to the resource, you are warned well ahead of time (before you get emotionally attached to the resource … so frustrating when it doesn’t work out).
Here are some screen shots from a resources I used the other day to create a printable grading sheet. I thought this was a super nifty idea which would truly make my life easier, were I a teacher. So, I selected the type of project: Oral Presentation, and the grade: 5-8. As you can see, there is a place where I can write my name and project title as well as some very specific instructions on how to use the source.
In the second screen shot I have written my name and used the drop down menu to select my parameters for evaluation.
This third picture shows my final worksheet, ready to use! It’s so easy and if I’m honest, a little bit fun.
As, all in all I would highly recommend this website to any student, teacher, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent (you get the idea!) that wants to learn more or just find some new ways to learn about a favorite topic. The videos and games available are fun an entertaining, the articles are accurate, and the learning is real! Enjoy!
How We Science is moderated and edited by the staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton.