For the City Times
Associate dean’s contributions promotes tree care industry
The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) presented Ron Zillmer, associate dean at Mid-State Technical College, the 2016 Advancing Arboriculture Award at its Winter Management Conference in Puerto Rico, Feb. 6.
The award is given to a government agency, institution or green industry partner that has worked to advance legislation, regulation or practices favorable to the tree care industry.
Zillmer’s contributions to advancing arboriculture are “likely to be measured for decades to come,” according to TCIA president and executive director Mark Garvin.
“Almost five years ago, there were a lot of industry and academic conversations about students, the needs of the tree care workforce and the gap between the two,” said Garvin, who also noted that at the time there were “troubling signs of decline” in interest and understanding of the great careers in tree career. “Amidst all this talk, one person actually had a plan.”
Zillmer’s plan included starting new two- and four-year college arboriculture programs, organizing networks of employers who would work with students on campus and provide job opportunities after graduation and creating materials and systems for businesses to recruit students into new and existing arboriculture programs at colleges.
Four years ago Zillmer approached the Wisconsin Department of Labor seeking to create an apprenticeship program for arborists. With the aid of college instructors, TCIA members and the Wisconsin Arborists Association, the program launched in June 2016. A modified version of the blueprint has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor for use in all 50 states.
Most recently, Zillmer worked with members of the Wisconsin Arborist Association to create a new degree program at Gateway Technical College in southeast Wisconsin.