Continuing our series highlighting the International Society of Arboriculture’s True Professionals of 2013, Meet Richard Herfurth of Lyndeborough, N.H. — a man whose integrity and commitment to safety has inspired both colleagues and students. Herfurth is a Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Tree Worker, Certified Treecare Safety Professional, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified Safety and Training Coordinator at Bartlett Tree Experts.
For Richard Herfurth, choosing a career was a simple decision.
“I threw a dart at arboriculture,” Herfurth recalls. “It was something that got me outdoors and I knew it was something I could do.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts (U-Mass) at Amherst and an associate degree from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture — the only place that taught commercial tree care — Herfurth went on to work for Bartlett Tree Experts.
“When he graduated from school, Rich could have gone anywhere,” says Dr. Dennis Ryan, a fellow U-Mass alumus and friend. “I’ve been in the business for 50 years and Rich is without question one of the best field arborists I have ever known. He can do anything.”
In his job as safety and training coordinator for Bartlett’s New England Division, Herfurth teaches all aspects of safety and arboriculture to every employee — whether in management or production, working with thousands of tree care consumers in the U.S. and Canada.
He regularly conducts safety and training field labs and promotes the industry to aspiring students at the University of Rhode Island and U-Mass at Amherst. He oversees the internship program in the New England region, exposing students to as many field skills and experiences as possible and checks on them over the course of the summer to ensure they’re learning proper techniques.
“I think what we do is dangerous and knowing how to do it correctly and paying attention to those best management practices is what keeps us safe,” Herfurth maintains. “I believe that good training is good safety. Some people are not aware because they’ve never been shown the correct way.”
Among his special project initiatives, Herfurth has been instrumental in maximizing production during several Asian longhorned beetle trunk injection contracts in Massachusetts. One job involved the injection of more than 200,000 trees in Worcester.
Recently, one of his more challenging tasks involved the transplanting of a large tree to make way for reconstruction on a college campus.“The Camperdown elm was 36 inches in diameter,” Herfurth explains. “To transplant something this large is unusual because we don’t do this every day. We only had to move it 100 feet, but first had to remove soil using air tools to reduce the weight so we could pick it up. It took us four days of preparation and four more days to put the 61,000 pound tree back in the ground. It was like intensive care.”
A past-president, treasurer, secretary and currently certification liaison for ISA’s New England Chapter, Herfurth is considered by many to be one of the most dedicated professional members. If there is a problem, he will find a solution. “Rich was like my right arm at ISA,” recalls Dr. Ryan. “You never need to ask him a second time. If he says he will take care of it, it’s going to be done and done right.”
“We’ve judged jamborees together for some 30 years in New England,” says Dr. Ryan. He’s asked to judge because he’s extremely fair and honest. He’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Paul Fletcher, Herfurth’s colleague at Bartlett, describes the respectful and appreciative person he is: He is an honorable man, selfless in his approach to everything he does. Herfurth is humble about his accomplishments, but certainly fits the description of what he believes it means to be a True Professional.
“You must have honor to do the right thing when nobody is looking. It’s necessary to have courage that includes mental, physical and ethical strength. And there has to be a firm commitment — one of desire, dedication, and faithfulness to the cause.”— ISA and Richard Herfurth
Join us again next Monday, and every Monday in December, as we feature another of 2013’s True Professionals of Arboriculture. If you missed last week’s, read about True Professional and second-generation arborist Terrill Collier.