Arboriculture and urban forestry education in the United States: Results of an educators survey

William Elmendorf, Todd Watson, Sharon Lilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In June 2002, a 2-day arboriculture and urban forestry educator summit was hosted by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, U.S. During the energetic discussions, differences in opinions between educators became apparent regarding curriculum content such as urban soils, utility forestry, tree care safety, and land use planning. Differences were also apparent in discussions regarding important research topics and educational tools. Because of the limited number of educators at the summit, a broad mail survey effort was funded by ISA in 2003 to better define issues and determine whether there were important correlations between the attitudes of arboriculture and urban forestry educators. This survey asked arboriculture and urban forestry educators in the United States their opinions about the importance and adequate provision of many skills such as pruning, climbing, urban forest management, land use planning, and volunteer management. The survey also asked questions about the ISA Certified Arborist program, educational program components, the nature of outside relationships, important research topics, and educational tools. In both descriptive statistics and a chi-square test of independence, results of this study provided evidence that there were very consistent attitudes about arboriculture and urban forestry educational topics across participants. Our findings also indicated that the traditional educational topics of arboriculture (such as tree planting and pruning) were considered very important by almost all participants, while the broader educational topics of urban forestry (such as land use planning and volunteer management) were considered less, or not, important by many of the participants. These results may indicate a lack of understanding of the importance of multiskills and broader educational topics in urban forestry by both arboriculture and urban forestry educators. This study's results also supported the importance of experience and the ISA Certified Arborist program in shaping positive attitudes about safety and the importance of understanding tree structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Arboriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Ecology


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