Urban Forestry Students Get the Dirt on BOCES Campus Trees


Pictured Above: Urban Forestry students Abel Pena, Ty Leahy, and Duncan Quinn, Briarcliff; Rocco Picciano and Thomas Calandro, Hen Hud; Pat Healy and Michelly Juarez, Katonah; and Blake Fahey, Yorktown, come to the aid of a stressed sugar maple on the PNW BOCES campus.

John Madden’s Urban Forestry students didn’t have to travel far to discover trees in need of their expertise. The large sugar maple right in the middle of the BOCES campus beckoned Madden and his students recently with its early fall color, a sign of possible impending trouble.

“The tree is changing color too early,” Madden said on a particularly crisp and sunny day. “If it changes color too soon it can mean the tree is in some type of distress.”

Madden and students set out to examine the tree in depth. “We will probably do a deep-root fertilizer to relieve soil stress and encourage root growth,” said Madden. “The drought we have been experiencing is causing early fall stress to a lot of trees.”

Whatever the diagnosis, Madden’s students will be up to the task. The students learn proper tree climbing and machinery operation. “I really like operating heavy machinery,” said Katonah student Michelly Juarez, who can already operate a front-end loader and an excavator, among other machinery.

Students in the Urban Forestry program learn to prune, climb and move trees; design and construct landscapes; operate heavy machinery; and start and maintain a business. Students also do internships, such as the one Juarez will begin soon at White Oak Farm in Yorktown.

“It’s a great program, and a great way to learn the business,” Juarez said.