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Time to Retire


When my final contract expires on October 1, 2018, it will mark my ninth anniversary since I teamed up with the Midwestern Chapter as Executive Director and 34 years since I first joined the International Society of Arboriculture and Midwestern Chapter. I signed up in 1984, attended my first Midwestern Chapter and ISA Conferences in 1985 and accepted my first Chapter leadership role as editor of Shade Tree Leaves in 1986.


Lots has happened during those 34 years and as I look back I realize I have attended 32 out of last 33 Midwestern Chapter Annual Conference and Trade Shows. I kind of feel bad that I broke my streak and missed Topeka in 2007 but an ice storm precluded that one.


I count 12 MW-TCCs as well as 27 ISA Conferences attended during that span. I was also very fortunate to represent the Midwestern Chapter for 13 years as a member of the ISA Board of Directors, serve as Chapter President, Host the 2000 Annual Conference and Trade Show and chair a number of Chapter and ISA committees.


Recently, during a work session of the Board prior to the Midwestern Chapter Tree Climbing Championship, President Jim Bauer outlined the process for naming a successor to the position. It was agreed by the Board that the first step to be taken will be to solicit input, ideas and potential interest from the Chapter membership. Please contact Jim (jbauer@Itctransco.com) if you have interest in the position or any ideas on how to select a new Chapter Executive.


As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the Board of Directors or the Executive Director with any concerns or comments you might have. We are always interested in your thoughts and eager to answer any questions.




Current Job Description

Leadership Flow Chart



Rick Tagtow
Executive Director
Midwestern Chapter - International Society of Arboriculture


Midwestern Chapter - ISA 
72nd Annual Conference and Trade Show

Date: January 31, 2018 - February 2, 2018
Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
Kansas City - Overland Park
Overland Park, Kansas, 66210-1462, USA

Recognize Excellence? Submit an Award Nomination!

Do you know of someone who has done an outstanding job on a landscape project or has provide outstand service to the Chapter?  How about someone who has through their writing, advanced arboriculture within the Chapter?

Now is the time to submit nominations for Chapter Awards and for Gold Leaf Awards! Let’s recognize the excellent work happening in the Midwestern Chapter! 

Consider the Arbor Day events you helped with, or that outstanding landscape project which really made an impact.  Think about those that have done a terrific job of communicating tree care principles.  Take a few minutes to tell me about those projects which stand out in your mind. 

The nomination process is simple – one page outlining the details!  Download the nomination forms from our Chapter website, you will find these forms and other award information under the “Activities” tab.  The deadline to submit a nomination is December 2, 2017!  All winners will be recognized during the MW ISA annual conference, January 31, 2018 - February 2, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Kansas City - Overland Park in Overland Park, Kansas.

Right now, as we head into the fall season, is an ideal time to reflect on the successes and achievements of arborists and tree care professionals throughout our MWISA chapter.  I think many of us MWISA members recognize in the efforts of our peers numerous examples of outstanding work that makes a significant contribution to our industry, accomplishments often done without much notice or fanfare. These efforts often can provide “teachable moments” which may benefit many other arborists if these endeavors were more widely publicized.  Nominating a person or group for a MWISA award is more than just a pat on the back for the good work these individuals have accomplished, it is an acknowledgement of the value their contributions have given to arboriculture in the Midwestern Chapter.

Thanks you for your help, and I look forward to seeing your nomination. 

Brett O’Brien

Awards Liaison



by: E.J. Tuner


“All clear”, “climber ready”, “judges ready”….were among the many sounds harmonizing with dinging bells on July 28 and 29 at the 2017 ITCC held at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. This year’s competition consisted of 65 competitors from around the globe. I was honored to represent the Midwest Chapter of ISA this year for the second time. The first being in 2011 at Parramatta, Australia.

Hidden through a maze of winding roadways, the site was nestled upon a hillside of majestic Oak trees deep within the Arboretum. Vendors, volunteers, judges, techs, competitors and spectators all gathered Friday morning for gear check anxious to kick off the annual competition.

The preliminary events were to start after gear check but, as rain is no stranger to an ITCC, the clouds brought in a torrential downpour with no signs of subsiding. The inclement weather would postpone the events to an early Saturday morning start.

Saturday morning clouds remained but the rain diminished to a spotty drizzle that took turns with the sun. This brought pleasantly cooler temps but kept the trees wet and slippery for the first half of the day, conditions all too familiar for a working arborist! Despite losing a half day for prelims the day prior all the events were completed on schedule with the hard work from everyone involved.

This year the ITCC held the new Ascent Event for the first time, perhaps the most anticipated feature at this year’s comp. This event replaces the footlock event, evolved to par with modern techniques the progressive climber uses to ascend trees. Competitors were given three scores: set up time for ascent system, time for actual ascent, and time to transfer on to a descent system. Although the rules and allowable gear were controversial to many, a wide variety of unique configurations were showcased by the competitors.

Belayed Speed Climb, Throwline, Aerial Rescue, and Work Climb were the returning events.

 In Belayed Speed Climb, foot holds held in place with heavy straps assisted climbers to the lowest branch on their scurry to the bell at the top of the tree. “When your second foot leaves the ground, your time starts” the head judge would say. Of course the morning climbers had an added challenge form the tree being wet!

Throwline had targets in two White Oak trees. Uneven Terrain, an ornamental tree, tripping hazards and backing to the wood line made this event just like being on a typical jobsite. How often do you get to throw in to the tree from an open area? 

The scenario was very appropriate in this year’s Aerial Rescue event. The injured tree worker was too preoccupied boasting about his work and taking selfies for his Instagram status. Adjusting his go pro while one handing the saw, he slipped, lost control, cut his arm and was left suspended from his tagline whilst having slack in his climbing rope. The homeowner and his barking dog were also included in the scenario.  During the event walk through technicians played out the scenario. This was a helpful aid to the competitors, as well as a humorous show.

A magnificent Spanish Oak with a wide spread network of branches reaching far out and low enough to graze the ground when the wind blew was the host of this year’s Work Climb. Stationed at the top was head tech MWISA’s own Noel Boyer to cheer us on as we raced through the well groomed canopy ringing bells yelling “All Clear”! Handsaw bell, pole pruner bell, limb toss and bell, limb walk bell, touch the tape, bomb out of the tree at high speed then BAM,  land on the bull’s eye with two feet!   Arguably,  the most exciting event for a climber.  The new “Limb Walk-O-Meter” was an interesting change in the limb walk station. Prior, a plumb bob hung on a line from the end of the limb within a vertical tube on the ground would measure downward pressure the climber put on the limb, resulting in points lost with too much pressure. The Limb Walk-O-Meter had a line from the end of the limb routed through pulleys, assisted with weights that kept a dial at a central point along a horizontal tube. This allowed downward and upward (pulling limb up) pressure to be measured, as well as the climber being able to observe their progress.

The sun shined bright on Sunday for the final day of the ITCC. Out of the 65 competitors, 5 men and 3 women proceeded to the Master’s Challenge to be hailed as the world Champ. New Zealand’s James Kilpatrick and Chrissy Spence  came in first place, both defending their titles for the second year in a row! The winners were announced that evening at the kick off to the annual conference and trade show.

Competing in the ISA competitions has been the most rewarding undertaking of my career. I have met some of the most knowledgeable people in our industry, learned from and exchanged techniques with the best climbers around. Many of whom I call friend.  The take away is always astronomical, leaving me ready to return to work with unmeasurable boost in morale. My success has taken me to parts of the world I never dreamed I could go. I express my sincere gratitude to all involved with the Midwest Chapter for all their help and support over the years. This is such a great place to be!






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