Liam McClannahan

Arborist with Branch and Bough Tree Service and Landscape Care in Minneapolis, MN

(specialized in Urban & Community Forestry)

Graduation Year: 

What is your current position title and employer?

Arborist with Branch and Bough Tree Service and Landscape Care under Andrew Hovland (Owner)

When did you start your current position?

May 2009, immediately after graduating from the University

Please describe your current position.

I, myself, get to practice all aspects of tree care: rope and saddle climbing (pruning, cabling, technical removals, structural/health canopy inspections), tree planting, Plant Health Care (PHC, chemical applications, pesticide/fertilizer), stump grinding, shrub maintenance, structural pruning of young trees.  We also do a bit of small scale landscaping.

What did you learn while at the U of MN that has been most helpful to you in your career?

Of course arboriculture and greenspace management supplied me with the most applicable knowledge, but all botany/plant biology classes are crucial to understanding the tree system, even on just the technical level.  Species characteristics and management concepts from forest ecology and silviculture are useful in daily work operations and consulting with clients.

What is the biggest misconception about this occupation or field?

Sadly there is still a portion of our population who view tree workers as hacks who happen to own chainsaw and a pickup and are desperate for any money a homeowner is willing to offer their way.  We see client education as part of our job.  We don’t just tell them what maintenance we will do to their trees, but how and, most importantly, why we are prescribing this maintenance.  The more people understand about how their trees live and what value they provide, the more people are interested in protecting and preserving them.

What surprised you the most?

Working outdoors in the winter is really not that rough.  These days, synthetic winter underwear makes it very easy to stay warm while not being bulked up like Ralphie in ‘A Christmas Story’.  Tree work is a great work out and keeps the blood flowing, it’s really quite invigorating.

What advice do you have for future students/graduates?

Show initiative and eagerness to learn, ask questions.  Learn common knots used in tree work on your own time; show up first day on the job being able to send a climber a pole saw by a clove hitch or a rigging line by a slippery sheet bend.  Take every possible opportunity presented to you by your advisor.

What is your favorite memory from your time as a student?

I was fortunate to have a great advisor, Gary Johnson, who offered me more learning and networking opportunities than I can count.  Some of my favorite memories from college were brainstorming and research analysis talks I had with Gary; that was where my fascination and passion for trees really developed.

I am also honored to be an “alumnus” of Tree Research and Education Nursery (TRE Nursery).  My first experiences with hands-on tree care happened here.  Chad Giblin continues to be a great mentor and friend.

Liam McClannahan