When Allie Wilson was looking for a summer job in her field, her advisor referred her to Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping. Wilson was a freshman with a love of all things outdoors who was working towards her Associate’s degree in Forestry at Penn State Mont Alto. Her two summers as a Landscape Intern with CVTS-L combined her academic and recreational interests while giving her valuable hands-on professional experience.
“I really love the outdoors,” said Wilson who enjoys hiking in her free time.
“I went to school for forestry, and most of our classes were outside in the woods. You have to put up with all of the elements of bugs and dirt and how hot it is in the summer – I think that’s why I loved working at Cumberland Valley so much.”
Digging in from Day One
When she arrived for her first day, she and another intern watched a safety video, took a tour of the nursery and received an overview of some of the tools and equipment they would be using in the field. They also went over some basic tasks like mulching, which they then practiced around the office.
Because this was her first forestry-related job, she received some additional practice and training with our Facilities Supervisor Brad Thomas. During this interim period, she performed a variety of plant replacements, mulch jobs and nursery tasks.
“He told me and showed me pretty much everything there is to know about landscaping,” said Wilson.
When she was officially added to a landscaping crew, her training with Brad allowed her to hit the ground running, but if she ever did have questions, her foreman and crewmates were always there to help.
“I was nervous for my first day out with the guys because I was used to working with Brad, but they were all super welcoming and really nice. Respectful. There to help if I needed it.”
As a Landscape Intern, there was, of course, the grunt work: pushing wheelbarrow loads of stone, digging holes and mulching with a pitchfork all while putting up with the bugs and dirt and heat. Whenever necessary, the crews used more advanced tools like chainsaws and stump grinders.
But with landscaping, the labor is always in support of the details. Edging machines are used to establish clean borders around plant beds, and leaf blowers are used to clean up the driveways so the property looks nice at the end of each day.
Over the course of her first summer as a Landscape Intern with CVTS-L, Wilson also got to spend time with the Tree Care division as well as the Landscape Designers to understand what their days are like. With the designers, she received a basic overview of what they can accomplish with the computer software, and she got to sit in on a few client meetings to see how the designers turn clients’ dreams into finished realities.
The Transformative Power of Landscaping
Landscaping projects rarely begin with blank, undeveloped properties. In fact, the projects that stand out in Wilson’s memory were severely overgrown – either from haphazard plantings or long-term neglect. These projects often required weeks of removals and cleaning just to get to the point where fresh plantings could be installed.
“They looked completely transformed once we were done,” she explained. “We took them from one state and by the time we were done with them, they looked totally different.”
“They didn’t even look like the same properties when you looked at the before and after pictures. They were big transformations. We put a lot of work into them and a lot of crew members were there every day. They had really nice end results.”
Making Each Other Better
Allie Wilson recently graduated from Penn State Mont Alto with an Associate’s degree in Forestry, and she is currently working towards a teaching degree at Shippensburg University. After graduating, she will spend the portions of the year when school is in session teaching Secondary Education Earth Science, but her summers will be free for spending time outdoors – and maybe even doing some landscaping.
“If you don’t mind working hard, you love the outdoors, and you’re interested in anything plant or tree-related, Cumberland Valley is a great place to work. Cumberland Valley is a nice balance because they’re really successful. They’re starting to expand and they have a lot to offer you, but they still have that family business vibe. All the bosses really care about you, and they’re really just like one big family. I love Cumberland Valley not just because I’m doing what I love, but the people make the experience so much better.”
Women in Tree Care
In honor of Women’s History Month, “TCI Magazine” has dedicated its March 2019 issue to exploring the role of women in tree care. Specifically, the article “Women in Tree Care: Past, Present and Future” provides an excellent overview of some of the ways that women have contributed to the industry since 1810 and how they will continue to in the future.