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    Up to the tree, trying to manoeuvre as quickly as possible are Dustin Patton and Jacob Ashley. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    First Responders cannot climb trees to rescue victims so the students had to learn how to get a person safely down. Bradley Charlesbois descends carefully with a dummy; to win, he must be as quick as possible without harming the victim. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



Algonquin Arboriculture students take to the trees for annual competition

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Tuesday July 9, 2019

Students in the Urban Forestry-Arboriculture Program students at Algonquin College took their knowledge to new heights on April 18.

They were encouraged to climb trees in Riverfront Park as high and as fast as they could as part of their  2nd Annual International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Climbing Competition. Different categories allowed them to test their climbing skills in the trees along the Ottawa River and win prizes worth thousands of dollars.

Though still relatively new, the competition has become a highly anticipated part of the program.

“This is student-learning in progress,” said Jamie Bramburger, Manager, Student and Community Affairs. “This is really a culminating experience for the students in the Urban Forestry-Arboriculture Program.”

The event is a way to test students using everything they learned in the past year. Potential employers were also on scene, watching for that ideal employee.

“They will find work very quickly because there is a demand for arborists,” said Bramburger.

Each category simulates real-life work such as pruning branches. There were two speed events using the tree as a base, one speed event using only a rope to climb, a throw-ball event and an aerial rescue.

“That one is very important because First Responders don’t remove a climber from a tree, so we have to know how to do that,” said Program Coordinator Erik von Luckzenbacher.

Having this type of event isn’t unusual for Algonquin College. Though there is always theory to be learned, there is hands-on practical learning as well.

“We work a lot with local employers for placement activities or exercises like this, which are real-life experiences that make our graduates very employable,” said Bramburger.

The Algonquin version simulates the much larger ISA competition, which sees arborists from across the world compete against one another. Each category in Pembroke also occurs on the international stage and gives the student a taste of what they could do one day.

For more information on the Urban Forestry-Arboriculture Program, please visit the Algonquin College website or visit the program’s personal Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UrbanForestryAlgonquinCollege.