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Oriental Tree Idol
Bob Miller wins International Award
July 28, 2011

riental Tree Board member Bob Miller has won a prize no other local resident can claim. Recently, the International Society of Arboriculture announced him winner of its 2011 Lifetime Arboriculture Award. “I was very surprised,” he says. What caught him off guard almost as much is where the award ceremony was being held – Sydney, Australia.

Bob Miller

Bob has been involved in the arborist field for almost 5 decades. “As a kid, I liked to go camping” he says. That interest lead him to scouting which attracted him to forestry. After earning a BS in Forest management, he worked with the US Forest Service and taught high school. Then, from the University of Massachusetts, he earned his PhD in a program centered on forest ecology and regional planning. Before moving to Oriental, Miller taught at the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA, is a professional organization dedicated to the care of trees. Worldwide, it has over 20,000 members. The Honorary Lifetime Membership is awarded to ISA members who have made exceptional contributions in the field of arboriculture.

Just one member a year (out of those 20,000 members) receives this honor.

Current ISA President Tim Gamma says Bob’s career contributions and current work with Oriental’s Tree Board reflects Bob’s “lifelong commitment to arboriculture”. In addition to being a past ISA director, Bob worked in the organization’s Education Research division and was editor of the ISA’s research journal.

In 2002, he retired and moved to Oriental with wife Marlene.

His departure from tree work was short lived. Within days of arriving, a neighbor asked him if he would join Oriental’s Tree Board. Which he did. This year, he and the organization planted almost 100 trees. Trouble is, 2011 has been very hot, a tough year for young trees. “The first year, it’s critical to water them until their roots can grow into the surrounding soil” Bob says.

That calls for lots of watering.

So, every week, Bob, Ken King and Oriental Tree Board members water the thirsty young trees. Hydration takes the from of a trailer loaded with water filled garbage cans and milk jugs. It is towed down Oriental streets where smaller crepe myrtles receive a gallon to drink while larger oaks receive 2 to 3. This translates into 8 garbage cans of water weekly.

Bob and Ken King watering young trees set out by the Oriental Tree Board. Bob says “Ken is the one taking the lead on watering the trees.”

So what’s the plan for picking up the prize Down Under?

Sydney, Australia is a long way from Oriental – almost 10,000 miles. Bob did look into a ticket, but soon concluded that “getting there is a lot of money.” And that’s assuming he traveled solo – an option he didn’t think was going to fly at home. As he puts it, “there was no way Marlene would let me go to Australia without her. So there would be two tickets to buy. And then if we’re there, we’d want to spend a couple of weeks there. Which only means more money.”

All for a plaque….

In the end, he arranged for a stand in to gather his award. A former student, who’s delivering a paper at the Sydney conference, will pick up Bob’s prize.

This, of course, comes as fine news to Bob’s leafy charges. It’s been a hot summer. Bob’s staying home and watering them will make lots of young trees happy. It’s what an award-winning arborist would do.

Bob watering a crepe myrtle on Midyette Street

Posted Thursday July 28, 2011 by Bernie Harberts

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