The trees on Purdue's West Lafayette campus are more than just beautiful sights for Tim Detzner — they represent the mark of a job well done for more than three decades.
As an arborist for Purdue, Detzner is part of the group that is responsible for managing all of the trees on campus. It's a job that allows Detzner to leave a lasting impression with his colleagues and Purdue visitors.
How did you become an arborist at Purdue?
My degree is in forest resource management, but jobs were scarce when I graduated. I took a job with a private tree care company just to earn some money and began learning what was involved with being an arborist. I liked the work and the variety it offered and have stayed with it since then. When my wife, Brenda, and I moved to Lafayette, I worked for the Lafayette Parks Department, taking care of their trees. I liked the stability Purdue offered and applied for the position here when it became open. That was 30 years ago.
What are your professional responsibilities, including your work with the Purdue Arboretum?
As one of Purdue's arborists, I share the responsibility of managing and maintaining all of our campus trees. This includes pruning, removal of dead trees, hazardous tree evaluations, updating our campus tree inventory, helping develop plans to protect trees from construction damage, disease and insect detection and treatment, and planting of trees. I am also involved in maintaining our campus tree trails and have recently had the opportunity to help establish and develop the Purdue Arboretum.
As an employee of the Grounds Department, it is my responsibility to help keep the campus both beautiful and safe for the enjoyment of students, staff and visitors. We also take a very active role in partnering with the academic side of the University. We have worked with entomology, plant pathology, horticulture and forestry, participating in classroom presentations as well as different research projects. We have even provided material for English classes when they were assigned to write on the topic of our campus trees. Right now, one of the most consistent and exciting partnerships is with the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in helping to develop the Purdue Arboretum as a resource for people from all over Indiana and the surrounding states.
What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
There are two aspects that I find extremely rewarding. One is seeing small trees grow into beautiful, large specimens and having a part in their development. The second is seeing how much enjoyment other people get from our trees. It's been wonderful having a hand in programs like the Arboretum and our tree trails that draw people to our campus.
I am also proud of our recognition as a Tree Campus USA. This is a program modeled after the Tree City USA program, and it recognizes campuses around the country for their excellence in campus tree management. Thanks to the efforts of our Grounds Department and others throughout the University, Purdue has received this award four years in a row.
In what other ways are you involved in the community?
I'm involved in a few tree-related organizations. I'm a member of the Lafayette Tree Advisory Committee and a board member of the Indiana Urban Forest Council. I'm also helping out with a program called Tree Stewards, which helps people in local communities learn more about proper tree care.