As the new arborist for the city of Medford, Adam Airoldi finds himself with a job kids all around the world would love to have.
"It's kind of an interesting thing to climb trees for a living," he said.
Tips about planting trees, including the city of Medford's "Selected Street Tree List," can be found at www.ci.medford.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=106
Airoldi, who has been on the job since March, is responsible for maintaining the city's trees, especially those in the parks, and he works with the Neighborhood Street Tree Partnership Program.
Airoldi said he enjoys being able to plant trees in the parks and seeing what already exists around town.
"It's just a cool thing to see. There are a lot of historic trees around Medford," said Airoldi, citing some elm trees on Valley View Drive that go back to the late 1800s or early 1900s, as well as an old walnut tree downtown.
According to Greg McKown, parks and facilities superintendent, Airoldi jumped into his job "feet first" and has done a "fantastic job" as the city's chief tree expert.
"He's really proven himself in the short time he's been here," said McKown. "He has a passion for what he does. I think that really shows."
One of the things Airoldi enjoys about planting trees is knowing they will last for potentially hundreds of years.
Airoldi's interest in trees sparked while taking a college course in forestry and spending one of his summers climbing trees for a living. Airoldi earned a bachelor's degree in forestry and later got a master's degree in forest ecology and management at Michigan Tech University. He worked for private tree services in Washington and Wisconsin before coming to Medford.
"I think his education level reflects his enthusiasm," said McKown. "He's into what he does."
Airoldi gained experience studying historic trees after learning about alpine tree lines and how they were affected by mining in Norway. The town where he stayed supported copper mining for about 330 years, and many of the trees in the area had been cut down to support the mine and other industries that followed. The mine has since closed, and the trees are starting to come back, but 300- to 400-year-old stumps are still visible.
He said he looks forward to planting trees here that could potentially be around a century from now, adding that he hopes his efforts will improve health and the environment in Medford.
"It would be nice to get some more diversity of species that we can see along the streets and in the parks," said Airoldi.
The local climate could permit a wide variety of trees without much fear of invasive species, he said.
"Trees being such long-root organisms take sometimes decades to mature," said Airoldi. "They aren't as invasive as annual plants."
Airoldi advises property owners who plant their own trees to choose their site carefully.
"Too often people plant trees because they like the look or like the color, and they'll put them right next to the house or near a powerline," said Airoldi, who suggests that people talk with an arborist or nursery before they dig in. In addition, the city's Parks and Recreation Department website includes tips and information about planting trees, including a "Selected Street Tree List," he notes.
Shannon Houston is a Southern Oregon University intern. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.