University News

Forestry Students Prove Skills at Annual Tree Care Expo

December 15, 2009

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University forestry students once again proved their mettle at the annual Tree Care Industry (TCI) Expo, which includes several contests for college students majoring in or interested in forestry. Held last month (Nov. 5-7) in Baltimore (MD), the annual event provided a venue for WIU students to show their tree-climbing and other forestry skills. According to Tom Green, forestry professor in WIU's School of Agriculture, Western's Forestry Club students have done well at past years' competitions, and this year was no exception.

Nicholas Esposito, a biology graduate student from River Forest (IL), finished first in the written exam, while Caleb Smith, a senior agriculture major from Pekin (IL) and WIU Forestry Club President, finished in first place in the work climb, eighth place in the written exam, 12th place in the speed climb and fourth overall. Two years ago, Smith finished second overall when the TCI Expo was held in Hartford (CT).

In addition, Elizabeth Schulte, a senior agriculture major from Strawberry Point (IA) and former Forestry Club President, finished 15th overall and was the top female competitor. She finished tenth in the work climb and 11th in the throw line competition. Nate Wallen, a sophomore agriculture major from Macomb, finished sixth in the work climb.

Green noted that the annual TCI Expo also includes a trade show, educational sessions and a student job fair. He said a total of ten WIU students represented WIU at this year's event, and WIU's Forestry Club students did extremely well among a crowded field of competitors.

"Approximately 100 students from schools as far as Utah compete in five events: work climb, in which students climb a tree and work back and forth ringing three bells scattered throughout the tree; belayed speed climb, in which students climb to a height of 40 feet as fast as they can; throw line, in which students throw a 10-14 ounce weight attached to a thin, light line to different tree crotches; equipment safety exam, in which students determine whether climbing gear is defective or not; and a written exam, in which students are tested on general knowledge about arboriculture including pruning, industry standards, plant health and personal protective gear," Green explained.

The yearly TCI Expo also includes TCI CSI, an event in which students try to solve dead and dying tree problems, Green said, and added that this event is not included in the overall competition.

"Nicholas Esposito finished sixth in the TCI CSI competition this year, and he finished in second place last year when the competition was held in Milwaukee," Green noted.

Ryan Carter, a junior agriculture major from Channahon (IL), finished 11th overall in the TCI CSI contest, Green added.

Also attending from WIU were students Rabb Shah, a junior agriculture major from Lemont (IL); William Black, a senior agriculture major from McHenry (IL); Preston Jordan, a junior agriculture major from Dolton (IL); Adam Engelskirchen, a junior agriculture major from Sandwich (IL); Justin Jones, a graduate student from Nokomis (IL); and Robert Northcutt from Beardstown (IL).

"The event provides students with the opportunity to showcase their skills. It also has a job fair, during which employers actively recruit students for positions in arboriculture. Even with a depressed economy, there are still lots of job opportunities for Western graduates in the arboriculture field," Green said.

Next year's TCI Expo will be held in Pittsburgh, and Green noted that the Forestry Club students at WIU are looking forward to it.

For more information, contact Green at (309) 298-1160 or Learn more about WIU's Forestry Club at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing