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ISA’S TRAQ: The Start of a Journey

This last week, for the first time, the Consulting Arborist Society ran two arborist training courses together, with the ISA’s TRAQ course being hosted by Kew Gardens whilst at Milton Keynes Council, my good friend Bob Widd was hosting CAS’s Tree Preservation Orders course.  The latter had been in the diary for some time, whilst the dates for TRAQ were chosen more recently in order to fit in with our hosts.  It has been an interesting few weeks bringing all of this together.

This is the first time that I have worked so closely with another organisation.  The course is widely respected, and the administration is comparable.  Normally, I draw up a list of delegates and focus on housekeeping arrangements and ensuring that both the trainer and Lantra (if it is a CAS-run course) are happy with matters.  I try to be flexible, and if there are places, will try to accommodate requests in the run-up to a course.

With the ISA, all details need to be received one month before the course is run.  This is more than simply the list of delegates.  Official ISA delegate forms need to be completed, and details of suitable qualifications provided.  This may sound straight forward, especially as the requirement is only for a level 2 Certified Arborist qualification, or higher.  I became a Certified Arborist back in 1999, and have maintained it since.

However, whilst Certification is recognised in the US as a key achievement, here in the UK, we tend to think of it as a useful measuring post, with the level 4 and level 6 Diplomas, Foundation Degrees and higher being more widespread.  There is also a recognition that degrees outside of the specialist field of arboriculture can still be relevant.  This is an element that the ISA has yet to appreciate.  They have a strict list of qualifying qualifications, and whilst one can appeal if one’s qualification is not on the list, this process, I am advised, can take months.  I faced the situation where one delegate with just the Certified Arborist qualification was able to take the course, whilst someone else with a First Class Honours Degree in Forestry was denied.  That person, seeking to expand their skills, has declined to pursue the matter.

We also have the situation of only one registered trainer for the whole of Europe, and only three mentors, who are required to guide trainee trainers, all of whom are based in the US.  However, the one registered trainer happens to be Ian ‘Mac’ McDermott.  Mac really knows his stuff for this course.  He first shared about it last spring (2014) when he spoke at the CASTech seminar at Capel Manor College, and I attended TRAQ when it was run in July of last year.  I was immediately impressed by his grasp of the subject and the syllabus for this course, and his ability to guide the classroom through what is quite an intensive two and a half days.  Mac was actually part of the working party which produced the course, so he is very familiar with it.

The deadline for details is very real, and I had to inform several people that they would not be able to take the course on this occasion.  The answer papers are sent out to named candidates, so there is no opportunity for substitutes.  I have shared before that I don’t consider the course to be the finished article, and I look forward to seeing candidate feedback from last week.  However, I am delighted, with the level of interest already expressed, that Kew have agreed to host the course again, and the dates 9-11th November 2015 have been confirmed.  Anyone wishing to be considered can drop me an e-mail to mark@consultingarboristsociety.com.

And make sure you have your paperwork ready!