Morton Arboretum Arborist Competes Against International Competitors for Top Honors
Is tree climbing the next Olympic sport? Beau Nagan Heads To Portland to Compete in the World Tree Climbing Championship Aug. 11-12, 2012
LISLE, IL (August 7, 2012) – Business is looking up for Morton Arboretum arborist Beau Nagan, 32, who hopes to claim the title of World Champion in the International Tree Climbing Championship August 11-12, 2012 in Portland, Oregon.
The Homewood, Illinois native who just became the state champion, will race against the clock, his younger brother, who is the Southern regional champion, and more than 40 rivals from as far away as New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Australia, Germany, Japan, Utah, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Illinois in a series of challenges during the two-day competition next weekend.
All eyes may be on the Olympics in London, but this nail-biter event, pits men (there is a women’s division too) who climb trees for a living against each other in a highly-coveted competition that got its start originally as part of an intensive job-training program for arborists. Sponsored by the International Society of Arboriculture and held during the annual conference, the competition first began in 1976 and has been held in dozens of cities and countries from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Versailles, France.
Nagan’s race for the gold underscores the winning international reputation The Morton Arboretum has garnered for one of the most comprehensive collection of woody plants in North America. Its collection of over 222,000 individual plants comes from more than 40 countries throughout the world, and Arboretum scientists and researchers have also won a reputation as the top experts in tree care.
It is precisely that focus on attention that makes tree climbing serious business for Nagan and the crew of arborists whose work is not only essential to trees, but also an art form. He hauls himself skyward, branch by branch, to care for and prune trees across the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres. Yet, visitors may never notice the hard work that goes on above the ground.
The competition shines the spotlight on the agility and skill required to care for trees and shrubs, often people’s first link to the natural world, especially those in urban settings.
Nagan says he fell in love with trees as a child and grew up “constantly climbing trees” with his three brothers helping his dad with the family landscaping business. These days he seems to dance from branch to branch, gliding and swooping. In addition to the international rivals, he will compete against his brother, who owns Aerial Innovations Tree Care and Preservation in Raleigh, North Carolina. .
Nagan’s training schedule is grueling: After an eight hour work day, he heads to a local forest three days a week for several more hours of climbing; runs at least three miles, three days a week and does 60 pull ups and 60 sit ups a day. When he’s not working, training or having fun with his two-year-old daughter and wife, he’s reviewing the tenents of tree-climbing including: checking your equipment for flaws; checking the tree from roots to branches for problems; mapping your climb and then heading for the sky. Is tree climbing – hoisting yourself up 70 feet up on a 20-lb. rope a good workout, Olympic addicts might want to know. Nagan says he used to weigh 220 lbs. when he started competing four years ago. Today, he’s sliced almost 45 lbs. off that total.
“I grew up just wanting to be around trees,” he says. “Trees do so much for us and give us so much aside from their beauty. They’re just magnificent creatures.” His favorite tree: The White Oak,” he smiles.”Some are 400 years old and represent such strength.”
The tree climbing competition simulates working conditions of arborists in the field. On an average work day, climbing arborists work aloft in the trees using ropes and harnesses to safely perform skillful tasks to care for and maintain trees. Male and female competitors perform five different events during the preliminary round of the competition that demonstrate the difficulty of the tasks and the need for safety. Each event tests a competitor's ability to professionally, and safely maneuver in a tree to care for it with minimal impact to the health of the tree.
Reporters interested in an interview with Beau should contact Mary Beth Sammons at 847-757-3189.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research, and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Throughout natural landscapes are specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails, and nine miles of roads. Other offerings include tree-focused events, activities, and services for adults, children, professionals, and communities. The Arboretum welcomes 800,000 visitors annually and serves 34,000 member households. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. More information is available at www.mortonarb.org.
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