Professor Kristina Bezanson Honored with Arboriculture Award Named After Famed UMass Educator
Cities and towns around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of trees in the advancement of livable and sustainable communities. How can we ensure that individuals are properly trained to care for them?
This very question was considered when the New England Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recently met in Portland, Maine to bestow their Dr. H. Dennis P. Ryan III Award upon Professor Kristina Bezanson, a faculty member of UMass Amherst’s Department of Environmental Conservation. This award is eligible to dedicated members of the ISA New England Chapter who have made seminal contributions to arboriculture. The accolade is named for Dr. H. Dennis P. Ryan III, a renowned arborist who spent years as the coordinator of the Arboriculture and Urban Forestry Program at UMass Amherst.
The selection of Professor Bezanson was inspired by her work at UMass’s Mount Ida Campus with PowerCorpsBOS, a Boston-based green jobs program with a focus on workforce development and environmental justice in arboriculture and urban forestry. This apprenticeship program educates Boston residents—many from underrepresented communities for whom environmental justice is a daily concern—on the proper care of urban trees.
Professor Bezanson is the program coordinator for the associate degree program in arboriculture and community forestry at UMass’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture and serves as the program director for the school’s online certificate in arboriculture and urban forestry. In addition, she teaches several arboriculture courses for Stockbridge majors and undergraduate students, and manages the arboriculture major’s internships.
“I was humbled to receive such a prestigious award from my peers at the New England Chapter’s conference and trade show,” Bezanson recounted. Of the award’s connection to Dr. Ryan, she felt excitement, as well as a sense of responsibility: “My role at UMass as lecturer in arboriculture and urban forestry, coordinating the arboriculture and community forest majors at Stockbridge, used to be his role. Dennis Ryan mentored me when I first arrived. He is a legend for his contributions to the tree-care industry and to decades of alums. To receive an award in his name is very meaningful. I hope I can live up to his legend!” Furthermore, having been introduced to the study of trees at Southern Maine Technical College, Bezanson appreciated the “full-circle moment” she experienced in receiving the award in Maine.
Professor Bezanson’s work connecting UMass expertise with organizations like PowerCorpsBOS will continue, as it merges her calling to urban forestry with her connection to Boston: “As a former Bostonian and a great-granddaughter of immigrants who lived in some of the same neighborhoods my students are from, I am personally vested in seeing that communities in Boston will be livable and affordable for the next generation of residents. The climate crisis is more extreme in communities with fewer green spaces and tree canopies. Plus, there are so many unfilled careers in arboriculture and urban forestry—not just entry-level positions—that can help in making Boston a more livable, resilient city for all its residents. I am driven to work with PowerCorpsBOS members to become tree stewards and gain the skills and knowledge to be role models in their own communities.”