By Michelle Werts

Arboriculture was not his first career for this week’s International Society of Arboriculture’s 2012 True Professional of Arboriculture. Texas-based Bruce Kreitler actually toiled on and around oil fields for 25 years before the demands of the job led him to turn his passion for trees into a new career.

Bruce Kreitler
Credit: Bruce Kreitler/ISA

“I spent 25 years working in oil fields — 15 years in the Middle East,” recalls Kreitler. Oil field supervisory jobs were lucrative, plentiful and challenging, but in the end, it was Kreitler’s rig schedule of 35 days on the job and 35 days off that opened up the possibility for this arborist. There was simply so much time to read and study.

“I’ve had a lifelong interest in trees and have always dabbled in trees,” replies Kreitler. “The time off allowed me to do some pretty intensive study on trees, not just work on them. I finally built up a tree business to the point where I had to decide which one was going to be my regular job.”

Bruce Kreitler
Credit: Bruce Kreitler/ISA

Kreitler incorporated his business, Broken Willow Tree Service, in 1999 and hasn’t looked back. Now, he uses several platforms for public outreach to educate people about proper tree care. He hosts free workshops, writes more than a dozen articles a month for five area newspapers, contributes to two online publications and hosts a weekly radio show, “West Texas Trees and Landscapes,” on KWKC 1340 AM in Abilene.

“The writing, the radio show and the public speaking — it gets people involved,” explains Kreitler. “It doesn’t do me any good to know everything I can about trees, nor would it matter how many people worked for me, if I wasn’t successful at public outreach. The True Professional is someone who is getting out there and working for the public, feeding the right information to them.”

Beyond his public outreach and daily tree-care work, Kreitler, who is an ISA-certified arborist, ISA noard-certified master arborist and a municipal and utility specialist, is guiding a special project initiative as a member of the Buffalo Gap Tree Board. Buffalo Gap is an area in Texas known for a unique, old live oak forest that was left in place by the original settlers.

“This area of historic trees is a shady forest spot in the middle of the sun-blasted plain,” Kreitler declares. “Buffalo Gap is one of the original settlements so the people who first lived there are the ones who purposefully left these trees in place. There’s a lot invested here. The tree population is in decline, so I am helping the board with a planning program. I encourage them to plant more burr oaks, among other species, to diversify the forest. The people that settled there gave us a present by not cutting down those trees. If we go in there and plant other trees, it will be a gift for future generations.” –ISA and Bruce Kreitler

Come back next Friday to meet a poet and writer who helps protect historic trees in New York.

Did you miss last week’s True Professional profile on Tim Kastning? Find it here.