To cap off the 2023 Alabama Urban Forestry Association education week, Justin Cantrell, of Tip-Top Tree Service in Auburn, took home first place in the conference's tree-climbing competition at Meyer …
To cap off the 2023 Alabama Urban Forestry Association education week, Justin Cantrell, of Tip-Top Tree Service in Auburn, took home first place in the conference's tree-climbing competition at Meyer park in Gulf Shores in late October.
Drawing tree-service professionals from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia, the competition consisted of five preliminary events, including throw line accuracy, speed ascent and aerial rescues on Saturday and a masters challenge for the top scorers on Sunday.
"This is a professional training event," said Josh Rutherford, of West Alabama Arboriculture. "But we do have a lot of fun, and it's built to be that way. It teaches safe work practices. It helps these guys hone their skills and to be more efficient."
According to Rutherford, aside from a "business license and a chainsaw," there are no requirements or certifications needed to start a tree-service company, but taking the classes to get certified by organizations like the AUFA and the International Society of Arboriculture help teach best practices both for worker safety and the health of the trees.
"We believe in doing things that will help these trees last in the long run and be good investments for people on their property so people can enjoy them for years and years to come." Rutherford added.
The competition, which may return to the island next year but has rotated to different parts of the state in the past, is always open to the public, and top finisher Cantrell, whose family was in attendance, said that makes all the difference to him.
"It's everything to me," he said "I won some trophies (on the first day), and I gave them to my daughter. She was so happy and was like, 'I'm going to hang these in my room.' I don't care about the trophies, but I really love having them out here cheering me on."
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