In May of 2019, CVTS-L’s Evan Brumfield fulfilled all of the prerequisites and passed a rigorous exam to become an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist.
According to the International Society of Arboriculture:
“The ISA Board Certified Master Arborist® credential is the highest level of certification offered by ISA. This credential recognizes ISA Certified Arborists® who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. In addition to passing an extensive scenario-based exam, candidates must abide by a Code of Ethics, which ensures quality of work. Fewer than two percent of all ISA Certified Arborists currently hold this certification.”
This is an exciting step in CVTS-L’s commitment to being a leading authority in tree care, and we spoke with Evan about what becoming a Board Certified Master Arborist means for him, the company and our customers.
1. Commitment to Continuing Education
Just like in health care or education, an ISA Certified Arborist is required to actively pursue continuing education credits through classes, seminars and workshops in order to become and remain an authority in tree care. By letting ISA Certified Arborists lead the way at CVTS-L, we ensure that we are always relying on the most up-to-date information. By utilizing industry best practices, we do the job effectively and safely.
Evan has previously been featured in our blog for becoming a Maryland Licensed Tree Expert, a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional, leading our expansion into Maryland, and representing CVTS-L in a truck convoy to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
These certifications are a good start, but to qualify to even attempt the BCMA, Evan needed to check off a daunting prerequisite list. Essentially, a candidate’s formal education, years of good standing as an ISA Certified Arborist, and continuing education credits are assigned point values.
“You can get the BCMA through a length of time or a sharp spike in achievements,” explained Evan. “I spent the past several years going to seminars and getting an overabundance of continuing education credits as an ISA Certified Arborist. I worked myself up to 120 credits in two years, so I got two points for that.”
Once the candidate has earned eight points, they submit their information to the ISA to be approved just to be able to take the test.
Evan was approved to take the test, which he took – and passed – in the testing facilities provided by Hagerstown Community College.
And now that he has it, he has to keep it.
ISA Certified Arborists need to earn 30 credits every three years to maintain their good standing in the ISA. However, as a Board Certified Master Arborist, Evan is now required to earn double that number – 60 credits every three years.
2. A Well-Rounded Knowledge Base
Not only is a Board Certified Master Arborist required to earn a higher number of continuing education credits, but those 60 credits have to be evenly divided up across three core competencies:
- Safety (20 credits)
- Climbing and Production (20 credits)
- Management (20 credits)
This distribution ensures that the Board Certified Master Arborist maintains a well-rounded knowledge base regarding all aspects of tree care.
“It’s a forced well-rounded approach to the industry,” said Evan, “and it’s an even distribution and twice the classroom time.”
ISA Certified Arborists who aren’t Board Certified Master Arborists will generally choose one of those three categories to specialize in. For example, General Manager George Pogue Jr. loads up on Management credits while Safety Director Aaron Feather focuses on Safety.
The knowledge behind the BCMA can be matched by almost every manager and higher-level employee at CVTS-L, and all employees are encouraged to consult with them if they ever have any questions, but this is the first time that all of the expertise has been certifiably represented within a single employee, which makes him a true authority in tree care.
3. Textbook Knowledge and Real-World Performance
The BCMA exam is a culmination of tree-risk assessment, tree appraisal (damage appraisal), plant health care, insects and diseases, legal issues and more. Rather than making candidates memorize and recite tree care facts, the test presents candidates with real-world scenarios that require the arborist to analyze and assess the situation as if they were arriving on a real property.
“That’s what the BCMA certification is based on,” said Evan. “Your judgement of situations and your ability to solve an issue in is whole. It relies heavily on all other certifications. You have to do your own reading between the lines, your own analysis.”
To raise the stakes even higher, there might be several “correct” solutions, but to pass, an authority in tree care will be able to identify the best solution based on a couple of facts (which may or may not be relevant to the problem) and a picture.
“That’s what the BCMA is based on,” he said. “Your general understanding and awareness of the situation to be able to best resolve it.”
The Authority in Tree Care
CVTS-L encourages employees to become ISA Certified Arborists and to pursue the continuing education credits that will take them where they want to go on their career path. And for Evan, the path to becoming an authority in tree care included nothing short of mastery.
“That’s how I’m wired,” he said. “I’m always looking for the next thing, the next level, the next rung on the ladder to climb. That was the one I wanted for years, and I finally got it.”