What does your typical day look like?
First, we try to keep the public safe and maintain the health of the trees—we have some really old elm trees. There’s a lot of disease prevention, fertilization, things like that. I also keep an inventory of all the trees, which I created during the past few years and keep up to date.
How do you keep your inventory?
I go out with a GPS app on my phone and take inventory of features and attributes. It took a few years to develop, and we’ve finally got it all fleshed out. I’m sure I must have missed a couple here and there, but we’ve got a record of almost all the trees.
How many trees are on campus?
Something like 1,100.
Which one is your favorite?
The big elm on the lawn of Russell Sage. It’s from the 1870s. It’s pretty magnificent.
Which trees are the hardest to take care of?
The elms. We look at them every day from the end of May through July for any signs of disease.
What are the signs?
A limb turning yellow, starting to fade. It’s been infected with a fungus by way of a beetle that chews into the branch. If we don’t cut that limb down quickly, within a few days the fungus will travel down to the roots and kill the tree.
What do you do in the winter?
We like to prune the elm trees to remove as many dead limbs as possible. We clean them out every few years. We also work on snow removal.
What did you think of the fall foliage this year?
I thought it was great at the start. Maples were brilliant for about a week. Then it rained hard and things went bad. Still, a lot of trees lasted longer than I expected they would.
What questions do tourists ask?
Questions like the ones you’re asking now. They’ll ask which is my least favorite tree, and I always have a good time with that one. I’ll just pick one out, wherever I happen to be, and say, “I hate that one.” Last year, I started an Instagram account, so I’m trying to get more pictures out there while we can’t do tours.