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October 14, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Eric Martin is a doctor, but his patients are trees. As an arborist, Martin diagnoses and treats Mother Nature’s creations. When sunshine and rain aren’t enough, it’s Martin’s job to keep trees healthy.
What does your job entail?
I write up tree health care plans. I evaluate the current health of trees and determine recommendations on what needs to be done to maintain or improve their health. We then provide visual inspections and take measurements of all the trees and calculate how much product, such as pesticides, we would use to treat a tree.
NAME: Eric Martin
COMO RESIDENT SINCE: 2001
AT JOB SINCE: 1992
Why did you become an arborist?
I’ve always been interested in the outdoors. I have a degree in plant science from Mizzou. I saw a need for a tree health care service in Columbia and for someone who could diagnose and treat tree problems.
What’s interesting about your job?
Seeing the difference we can make in the health of trees is fascinating. People perceive trees as big strong organisms, but really they’re fragile. After we give our treatment plan, it’s intriguing how the tree progresses and gets bigger, healthier and stronger.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Every tree has to have an owner. My favorite thing is dealing with people who also appreciate their trees and being able to provide a service that allows them to see the results of healthy trees.
What is the difference between an arborist and a landscaper?
That would be like saying the guy who raises livestock is a veterinarian. We have to have more training and meet qualifications.
What’s your biggest challenge?
The sheer number of problems that trees have and the variety of insects. We have to specifically diagnose what insects or diseases are affecting trees and then figure out treatment.
What are some unexpected experiences you’ve had?
I had a customer who had a dead raccoon in a trash can. It had crawled in there and drowned, and I had to dispose of it for them. Another time, I was looking at a tree and heard something in a gutter. A squirrel was stuck, so I took the gutter off. The squirrel was happy to see daylight.
What is your favorite type of tree?
My favorite trees are the red and white oaks because they’re native to this area and they’re our biggest and most majestic tree.
What does your yard look like?
I have 10 trees in my yard. They’re all different species that were here when I bought the house.
Why does the world need arborists?
Trees are a very valuable part of our ecosystem. If it weren’t for arborists, there wouldn’t be anyone protecting that resource. We have to be the voice of the trees because they can’t speak for themselves.