Many times the question has been raised about how a climber can get more involved in the arboriculture industry whether it be for more exposure personally or just more exposure within the community. The answer is always the same: put the effort in!
By getting involved with volunteer work days through local ISA chapters or through relief groups, you can become known as someone willing to give back to your community. If you are the only climber helping other homeowners, you can easily become recognized as the professional amongst this group. Once these other volunteers see you climbing, you can easily pick up extra work which is a major benefit to you by just volunteering a couple hours of your time. Newspapers love volunteer work, but they love action shots more. You can bet money that they will have a picture of a climber way up in a tree over someone holding a shovel. Exposure is a great way to become recognized!
Another great way to get involved with the climbing community is to either attend or climb in a local climbing competition. This extremely tight knit community is always willing to give back and help out new climbers. The amount of knowledge available to you at a climbing competition would cost you tens of thousands of dollars if you were to look for direct training. The more competitions you attend, the more you will get to know each climber, and it will begin to feel like you are going to a family reunion.
Another way to gain great exposure for yourself personally is through networking at climbing competitions. The amount of vendors at each comp varies but there are usually 1 or 2 that you can introduce yourself to and get to know on a personal level. Once this personal level is reached, those climbers looking for sponsorship are much more viable for a company to pick up compared to a climber they have no personal connection with.
Getting more involved on a professional level is easy through different certifications. Becoming a Certified Arborist or CTSP (Certified Tree-care Safety Professional) gives you a head above the rest. Though some may feel that these certifications do nothing for you in your career they do show that you were willing to take the time to get the certification unlike the nay-sayers that felt better just sitting by idle. The test does take time to study for but if your employer is willing to compensate you for your efforts, they can easily pay for themselves 10 fold.
After you have become certified, (hopefully) your peers will look at you as a figure of authority. This is great if you are good at public speaking because it opens the door for various other opportunities to GET INVOLVED. Every local ISA chapter is usually looking to have a speaker at their conference. If you are good at climbing and know your fair share of different techniques, take the time to put your knowledge into a presentation format and teach a class. Maybe you are better at PHC than climbing, compile and teach. You will learn far more about your subject matter when you are teaching the class than when you are just sitting there listening to someone else teach it.
Surely you remember at least one public speaker in your life that stood out to you. Try to think about what made that speaker different than the rest. Try to base your presentation on how that speaker engaged the audience and everyone will more than likely enjoy it. This is great for getting involved as well because people will remember you from your presentation and tell others about it. Maybe they will ask you to come back the next year. Being a teacher and authority figure on a subject will easily get you more recognition within our industry.
With these simple little things that may take 1 to 2 days at the most out of your year you can easily become a voice of authority in your local community and even further within the arboriculture industry. Be sure what you do is at a professional level at all times and don’t skimp on safety when it comes to being in the public eye. You will be scrutinized for breaking rules ten fold as people are now looking up to you.
Getting involved can lead to sponsorships from companies, sponsored trips, to fortune and fame if you are willing to put forth the effort. The only way to find out how far this involvement will take you is to get started and get involved!