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Alumni Put FNR Experience to Work at Bartlett Tree Experts

The mission of the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is to prepare the next generation of professionals, discover new knowledge and engage key stakeholders in the science, management and sustainable use of natural resources.

Purdue FNR alumni are utilizing their education and expertise across the globe in the fields of forestry, wildlife, fisheries and aquatic sciences, natural resources social science and interdisciplinary ecology.

Whether their career interest was piqued by a club, a class, a professor or hands-on experience in the field, there is no question that Purdue FNR has made a long-lasting impact on students throughout the department’s history.

To see how a Purdue FNR education can set the stage for taking on a whole scope of job possibilities within various fields, the department is inviting alumni to talk about what they do, how they got there and the skills needed to thrive in their given positions.

Eight members of the Purdue FNR alumni family have followed their career paths to Bartlett Tree Experts, one of the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care companies.

From 1984 alumnus Scott Jamieson, vice president of the Midwest Division of Community Business Partnerships, to its newest addition, arborist ground person Esther Mussman, who graduated in 2021, each got their start at Purdue and are essential members of the Bartlett Tree Experts family.

Bartlett has also invested in the future of Purdue FNR with a substantial donation to the FNR Building fund. One of the classrooms/labs in the planned new FNR building will be named in honor of Robert A. Bartlett, Jr.

 

About Bartlett Tree Experts

When Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907, Francis A. Bartlett’s goal was to provide quality care and good value to owners and managers of landscape trees and shrubs by means of a four-step plan:

  1. Evaluate plant health, safety and appearance by means of a systematic and thorough inspection, or series of inspections.
  2. Make an accurate, scientific diagnosis of plant problems and assess current and future plant requirements
  3. Provide a full range of necessary remedial treatments
  4. Design, create and implement innovative, effective, long-term preventative care and maintenance programs.

More than 100 years later, the company remains committed to its original values of honesty, integrity, fairness, dependability and open communication. The company’s current Chairman and CEO, Robert A. Bartlett, Jr., represents the third generation of Bartlett family leadership.

The company operates the largest shade tree lab in the world, The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, in Charlotte, North Carolina. With the latest research from its team of 12 PhDs in fields ranging from plant pathology to entomology and horticulture, Bartlett provides species-specific tree and shrub care plans for its customers to ensure optimum growing conditions and health for beautiful landscapes. From pruning, insect and disease management, and soil analysis and management, to comprehensive tree inventory and management plans, tree risk assessments and tree removal, Bartlett’s arborists provide more than 188 services to their customers from 149 locations across 39 states, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland.

The eight Purdue FNR alumni on staff at Bartlett fill roles from arborist representative to local manager to plant health care technician to arborist ground person. Here are their stories.

 

Richard BarkerRichardBarker.jpg

Degree: Forestry 1979

Position: Arborist Representative, Assistant Manager; Indianapolis, Ind.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

My forestry degree at Purdue equipped me to adapt to many different types of forest-related jobs. I had options in forest management, fire management, urban forestry, outdoor recreation, etc. I particularly enjoyed and got a lot out of Forest Mensuration, Biometry, Dendrology, Plant Pathology, Soils, and Remote Sensing classes. Forest Management and Economics were also very helpful. I had classes with Drs. Tom Beers and Charles Miller that I still use parts of daily.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

I am an Arborist Representative and Assistant Manager at Bartlett Tree Experts’ Indianapolis office. I spend most of my time meeting with clients to look at tree and landscape problems and devising management plans. These plans include pricing for the services we can supply. A good natural resources background is important to build upon, but customer service skills are also essential. My role also includes daily supervision of tree crews and plant health care specialists who are working on the projects I sold.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

I enjoy working with other Purdue alums. There is a shared comradery even though I went to Purdue long before my peers at Bartlett! We didn't have desktop computers or calculators when I started. I had to go to the computer lab to punch cards and get the program run just so I could get my assigned work for Forest Management class! In my case it wasn't the Purdue connection that drew me to Bartlett, but rather name recognition in the industry and colleagues that I had worked with at other organizations.

 

Scott JamiesonScott-Jameison-269.jpg

Degree: Forestry 1984

Position: Vice President of the Midwest Division of Community Business Partnerships; Schaumburg, Ill.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

Purdue FNR gave me a solid foundation for urban forestry. My entire Purdue experience prepared me to go out and deal with trees and people. I am still looking to apply that year of Calculus, however. J. Harvey Holt was a mentor of mine and he showed how important it is to connect students to the profession, to employers, and to those taking the Purdue FNR experience out into the field. Summer camp was not urban focused (It’s great that today there is an urban segment), but it taught me how to get along with others in a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. Our cabin had the most fun and well-rounded experience and shouldn't life mirror that??

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

As VP of the Midwest Division and Community Business Partnerships for the company my role is less about trees these days and all about people. It is about knowing who I am as a leader and why I do what I do, so I can make adjustments, grow and help others. In my role, I help make others successful through support, caring and working alongside them. Communication, learning who others are, learning who I am, speaking in front of groups, connecting others to Bartlett, leading sales training, safety leadership, business acumen and a passion for what I do are some of the skills required.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

I helped hire several of the Purdue grads and enjoy going on campus to recruit and lead classroom discussions. There is definitely a Boiler connection even though we all graduated in different eras. We can connect over sporting events, past professors, Purdue’s rising star on the national scene and a sense of pride in knowing we all received a very good educational experience. It is fun to go back on campus as a team with several other Boilers to recruit, attend events and connect with students in the hope that we inspire them to consider urban forestry. Many years ago I remember Harvey Holt taking a sabbatical at Bartlett’s Research Laboratory and Arboretum in Charlotte, North Carolina. I knew then that Bartlett was a special company, focusing on scientific tree care, if Dr. Holt was spending his sabbatical there!

 

Daniel RichardtDanRichardt.jpg

Degree: Forestry and Wildlife Science 1993

Position at Bartlett: Local Manager and Arborist Representative; Indianapolis, Ind.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

My time at Purdue allowed me to learn that I would be going into a profession that was not anticipated by me originally. I started as a pharmacy major and switched my second semester. Walt Beineke was one of my professors that shared a lot, along with Harvey Holt and a TA named Brian Parks. Working with Brian at Martell Forest showed me the diversity of work that is available.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

I currently am a manager at our Indianapolis office and one of the skills that is valuable is communication. The majority of my time is spent communicating with staff and clients, including educating them about arboriculture.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

Scott Jamieson is who drew me to Bartlett, as he recruited me at Purdue. This office in Indianapolis is the first one I have worked in with Purdue grads. Formerly I worked with Wisconsin and Michigan grads, so I am still becoming acquainted with this group.

 

Sean RockSeanRock.jpg

Degree: Forestry 2009

Position at Bartlett: Arborist Representative, Indianapolis, Ind.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

While I was attending Purdue I took multiple urban forestry classes with Dr. Harvey Holt that introduced me to arboriculture. We were able to interact with professionals in the classroom and the field who introduced me to different aspects of urban forestry. Joining the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture helped get me involved with ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) and TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association), which helped broaden my view of urban forestry. Dr. Holt’s classes & field trips showed me how many opportunities there are within the industry.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

I am currently an arborist representative in the Indianapolis office. Good communication skills are key to being a successful arborist rep as I meet with new prospects, established clients, and crew members every day.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

I enjoy working with fellow Boilermakers. It’s nice to know coworkers have gone through the same program, and nice to find out what has changed at Purdue over time since I graduated. I wouldn't say the Purdue connection drew me to Bartlett, but Purdue gave me a good introduction to Bartlett. Purdue gave me the background information that allowed me to make an educated decision as to what to do after graduation.

 

Tyler HirschingerTylerHirschinger.jpg

Degree: Forestry 2016

Position at Bartlett: Arborist Representative; Indianapolis, Ind.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

Fantastically! The main protagonist with that story would clearly be Lindsey Purcell, the urban forestry and climbing instructor for Purdue. While I enjoyed the climbing class (Arboricultural Practices) and learning all about urban planting, pruning & tree care, I did not expect to end up in an urban forestry type position post-graduation. At the time I was blissfully unaware positions such as arborist representative with Bartlett were available and here we are going on my fourth year with Bartlett. While I definitely will credit all my professors for igniting my passion with trees (and nature in general), Zhao Ma would be my secondary pick for helping me understand the necessity of working with clients! I am certainly NOT a people person, quite introverted really, but my position with Bartlett demands face to face exposure and educating clients on needs for trees, working with clients to find suitable solutions to their problems and helping them understand the consequences of not planning or taking action. While I am not quite creating whole policies, the exposure of knowing you simply have to work with folks who may not know a lot about trees was enlightening. Though the urban forestry minor existed during my time at Purdue, my exposure to this field has become even larger since my departure from Purdue.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

I originally started as a Plant Healthcare Technician and worked in that position for roughly 2.5 years monitoring, diagnosing, treating, fertilizing and sampling a host of trees and shrubs. There was limited exposure to clients during this time, but I have since transitioned into an Arborist Representative role and have been in this position for about 1.5 years. This position is a mix of a client relations, supervisory & sales. My primary role here at Bartlett involves the following functions:

  • Meeting with clients and discussing their properties and the needs of their plants (good or bad!) – the majority of this includes inspecting and diagnosing plant diseases and pests
  • Constructing management plans, treatments and tree pruning or removal plans based on our discussions and their needs / financial abilities
  • Supervising plant healthcare technicians and tree and shrub work crews daily & ensuring follow up of safety protocols
  • Maintaining all relations with equipment vendors and establishing contacts for both truck, chipper and trailer maintenance (We can't have crews working without functional gear!)
  • Occasionally interviewing prospective new team members & participating in career fair and other industry related hiring opportunities, i.e. the Purdue Ag & FNR career fairs or other related events.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

It was to my surprise the majority of the Bartlett office here in Indianapolis (and our Division Manager) were Purdue alumni. In reality I owe my attendance to the Indianapolis office to Scott Jamieson. My original interview was with Bolingbrook in Chicago and it just so happened Scott was on site that day. Upon reminiscing on our connection to Purdue, he learned I was an Indianapolis native and offered the opportunity to shadow with a technician from the Indianapolis office, which ultimately lead to my new career base. It is really nice to be able to share common history with these folks both inside and outside my office. As we have all shared past experiences (such as Purdue’s FNR forestry camp in Upper Peninsula, Michigan), it makes it both easier to connect and establish contacts for networking both in and out of the office. Funny enough, I have learned this past month a fellow friend from Purdue was working in the Pacific Northwest offices of Bartlett and recently moved back to Michigan and is now working with our Grand Rapids office. We recently reconnected and were both shocked to know we were Bartlett employees! I cannot ultimately say Purdue was the connection which drew me to Bartlett, but, in the end, I am very happy that’s how it turned out. I enjoy my returns to the career fairs and continuing the connection to Purdue.

 

Austin HuffAustinHuff.jpg

Degree: Forestry 2017

Position at Bartlett: Climbing Arborist, Arborist Representative; Grand Rapids, Mich.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

My time with Purdue FNR was an incredible experience that influenced me on my career path and in life more than I had ever expected. Introduction to Arboriculture, Dendrology, and Tree Biology are just a few of the most influential courses I took. I use so much information from those classes everyday out in the field. Lindsey Purcell was also a major influence for me in school. You can tell he is very passionate about the material he is teaching and I learned the importance of urban forestry from his courses.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

As a climbing arborist at Bartlett, I climb trees and prune them to improve branch spacing, air flow, and canopy structure to create a healthier tree canopy. I’m also looking around the canopy for any hazardous limbs that are cracked, hanging, or dead that need to be removed. Knowledge of tree biology and proper pruning techniques is very important in this job, so that you have a better understanding of how a tree may react when pruning it. The most important skill required is having a safety conscious mind. Knowing how to perform this work safely with the proper training is a must.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

It’s great to know there are fellow Purdue FNR alumni working for Bartlett all over the country. Purdue FNR is a great community with amazing professors and a place where you will make life-long friends with your classmates. I feel like the same goes for Bartlett as well. Both are very similar in that the people you are surrounded by all share common interests and ideas and it feels great to have that around you. I remember in my arboriculture classes that Bartlett’s name was mentioned a lot when it came to research. I was drawn towards that because I wanted to develop my skills from a company that was continually working towards improving our knowledge and work practices in the arboriculture community.

 

Stacey WoessnerStaceyWoessner.jpg

Degree: Forestry 2019, Urban Forestry concentration

Position at Bartlett: Plant Health Care Specialist; Indianapolis, Ind.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

I am in the urban tree care industry today due to Lindsay Purcell's FNR 445 Class.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

I am a plant health care technician. My main focus is to treat trees for pests and diseases, as well as fertilize them. Client relations is an important part of my role as well. I answer a lot of client question and pass along any unanswered questions or concerns to the representatives.

My role requires observational skills, when we are on a property we are expected to notice when a plant is not in proper health. Then from there we attempt to deduce why that plant is not in good health and what can be done to aid it. Plant and pest identification also are critical skills. One of the most vital skills is being able to say that you do not know the answer and then seek out what the answer is to get the proper solution.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

It is fun working at a company with several Purdue alums. Our college days do not get brought up very often, but there is a small unspoken bond between those of us who have been to Purdue.

 

Esther MussmannEstherMussman-Headshot.JPG

Degree: Forestry 2021

Position at Bartlett: Arborist Grounds Person; Irwin, Pa.

How did your time in Purdue FNR prepare you for your position at Bartlett? What classes, professor interactions or experiences at Purdue impacted you or have you carried with you into the career world?

I can say with confidence that I would not be here if it weren't for my time at Purdue. My time in class with Lindsey Purcell and my involvement with PSSA (the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture) both introduced me to Bartlett and convinced me to pursue a career in arboriculture instead of traditional forestry. As I gain on-the-job experience, I have found that I apply knowledge from Dendrology, Tree Physiology, and Arboriculture Practices every day. Being familiar with the species of tree and how it will react is important when pruning or treating the tree. The Arboriculture Practices class made me familiar with much of the work I do every day, and gave me a deeper understanding about why we do what we do.

What is your role at Bartlett and what specific skills does it require?

Since I just graduated this past spring, my position is an entry-level grounds person position. My main duties are keeping the work zone safe for the climbers, assisting the climbers from the ground, and cleaning up after them. I would say a strong work ethic, willingness to work in all weather conditions, and a general awareness of the environment are all important qualities. This position is a jumping off point for getting training for other positions, so being curious and having an eagerness to learn is also important.

What is it like working at a company with several fellow Purdue FNR alums? Was the Purdue connection what drew you to work at Bartlett?

Since my office is in the Pittsburgh area, I am the only Purdue graduate at my office. I view this as an opportunity to be a good ambassador for Purdue FNR. Although I do not get to enjoy comradery with fellow Purdue alumni at work, it was people from the Bartlett office in Indianapolis coming out and participating in PSSA that convinced me that I wanted to work for Bartlett after graduation.

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