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USDA Tree Climber Finishes 12th in World Competition

International Tree Climbing Championship (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

International Tree Climbing Championship (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

Does your job relate to the activities you enjoy in your personal life?  Mine does.  In fact, no matter what challenges I’ve faced over the years, I’ve been able to stay sane because I am doing what I love to do, and I keep a positive mental attitude.

I climb trees for APHIS’ Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Eradication program in Worcester, Mass.  Climbing trees to detect beetles or signs of infestation is important work in eradicating this invasive insect from the United States. What I do involves inspecting trees from the top on down, and every angle in between.  I love trees and I love my job as a beetle detective.   As an arborist, I also compete in tree climbing competitions for fun, to keep up to date on new techniques, and to educate the public about the wondrous world of trees.

This past year I won the New England Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture’s (ISA), New England Tree Climbing Championship, held at Bowdoin College in Maine.  The ISA’s “big dance,” as it has come to be known, is the International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC), and it moves to a new location every year.   This year, Parramatta, Australia hosted the competition, and being able to represent New England in the women’s division was beyond my imagination.

I arrived on Thursday, July 21, after traveling on a plane for 22 hours.  It was my first trip abroad and the first time I used a passport.  I met some amazing people during my travel, and I am proud to say that I finished 12th in the world!

In an unplanned adventure outside of the competition, I had the pleasure of attending an Australian tree conference called ArborCamp.  Their slogan is, “It’s all about the trees and the people, mate.” That says it all.

International Tree Climbing Championship - view from the top. (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

International Tree Climbing Championship - view from the top. (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

I saw a koala in a tree, climbed giant Eucalyptus trees, walked a slack line 60 feet in the air, helped to judge the first ever tree removal competition, met arborists from all across Australia, and even walked across a hollow log on fire.

All in a weekend’s time!

Next time someone asks you to do something beyond your imagination, say yes.

If you would like to hear more about my work or my personal adventures, please feel free to contact me at

2 Responses to “USDA Tree Climber Finishes 12th in World Competition”

  1. CAndace Robl says:

    I loved reading the article. Bear congrats on your competative win. It is always great to hear about how doing something you love takes you to new experiences beyond the imagination. Keep finding those beetles. I wish you continued sucess in your endevours.

  2. LO says:

    Our climbers are the navy seals of our program! The best! I loved reading about this success! Whoo hoo!

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