A Tree Climber Grows in the Bronx

A Tree Climber Grows in the Bronx

Young New Yorkers learn the ropes of scurrying up and around trees in the city's Million Trees Training Program for arborists. (NYT)

Two-time world champion tree climber and third generation arborist Mark Chisholm can scurry up or down a giant tree like Spiderman, to the amazement of participants in a New York City Parks Department training program for would-be tree experts. Trainees in the Million Trees program that Chisholm volunteers to teach quickly find out that climbing a tree isn’t as easy as he makes it look – nor is caring for one. If they graduate from his 7-month program in horticulture and ecological restoration, however, green-collar jobs may await them in the New York Botanical Gardens and elsewhere.

This New York Times video captures both the exhilaration of learning a new skill high above the ground and the frustration of trainees who can’t muster the physical or emotional ability to do such strenuous – and dangerous – work. The program is aimed at providing new careers to young adults who are out of work and lack other educational opportunities, but Chisholm sees their training as serving a higher purpose. Along with learning rope handling and landscaping, trainees often develop self-confidence and a new appreciation for nature and the environment. As they cheer each other on from the bottom of a huge tree in Bronx Park, Chisholm points out that the towering trees in our city parks and backyards need maintenance. “If we don’t train people,” he says, “who will care for them?”

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 4:21

By Sam Dolnick, Shayla Harris and Joseph Laban