terça-feira, 4 de maio de 2010

Bristol Aggie's Tree Climbing Jamboree mixes education with competition

By Derek Vital (Herald Hews Staff Reporter, Posted May 02, 2010 @ 05:15 PM, Last update May 02, 2010 @ 05:53 PM)

DIGHTON — Remember when you were nine years old, and you and your friends spent hours climbing up your neighbor’s pine tree?

This is nothing like that.

A group of 25 students from Bristol County Agricultural High School competed in the school’s 15th annual Tree Climbing Jamboree on Friday. The climbers were from Bristol Aggie’s Arboriculture Department, which exposes students to the many facets of the tree care industry, focusing on the handling and preservation of shade and ornamental trees.

The students competed in four events: work climb, blade speed climb, throwline and footlock. In the work climb competition, students were lifted into the tree by a bucket truck. They were required to manuever to various stations set up in the tree and perform tasks like walking out on a limb and ringing a buzzer. Each student was given a 15 minute time limit and they were required follow safety protocol, including calling out to make sure the area under the tree is clear.

In the blade speed climb, the competitors wear a harness and were required to climb up a 30 foot tree as quickly as possible. There were no style points and the fastest time was ruled the winner. In the throwline competition, a series of targets were set up in a tree and students attempted to hit the targets with a small rope and connect a larger rope onto it. The targets were set at varying heights and are worth points based on degree of difficulty. The students were also required to announce their commands to ensure safety and may lose points if they do not follow the criteria.

There was no tree involved in the footlock event, just a rope in a dead hang where competitors were expected to climb approximately 30 feet.

Arboriculture instructor Seth Cook said the jamboree is intended to be a fun event which involves skills that are applicable to the tree care industry.
“This mimics a lot of what we do in our curriculum,” said Cook. “Moving through trees, getting to certain points in trees and mimicking a work task. To go out on a limb, lanyard in a piece of dead wood and call down to the support staff. It directly mimics what we do in our curriculum.”

Prizes were awarded to the top two finishers in each event along with a grand prize to the top performer. Shelter Tree of North Attleboro donated $500 in prizes for the event. The overall winner will receive a climbing line valued at $100. After the points are tallied, a winner will be announced Monday.

“The kids have a great time,” said Cook. “A lot of the other students come out a watch the competition.”

Junior Brad Herrick’s favorite event is footlocking, which he placed second in as a sophomore. He said the competitors have spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for the jamboree.

“We usually stay after school and practice,” said Herrick. “We are lucky to have teachers that will spend the time with us.”

Sophomore Zac Gadoury said he prefers to pull himself up by the tree branches in the bladespeed climb while most of the other competitors pull themselves up by the rope. While he is hoping to win, Gadoury enjoys the camaraderie of the event.

“Everyone is pulling for everyone to get the best time they can,” said Gadoury. “Everyone is rooting for you. You push yourself as far as you can.”

E-mail Derek Vital at dvital@heraldnews.com.

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