University of Wisconsin, American Transmission offer sole path to professional utility vegetation management certification

Published on April 14, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Recognizing the critical need for utility vegetation management, the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point (UWSP) and American Transmission Co. (ATC) have collaborated to create North America’s only professional utility vegetation management certificate program.

Although the college-level training program and industry-recognized professional credential was developed by the Utility Arborist Association (UAA) and Utility Vegetation Management Association back in 2014, UWSP has been the only place to get it since 2020. Originally, it was piloted at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

This program consists of six fully online, 12-week courses that are all project-based. Courses focus on expanding understanding and application of industry best practices and offering an avenue to being denoted a Certified Utility Vegetation Management Professional by the UAA.

For ATC, though, aiding this latest endeavor was the natural expansion of an existing relationship between it and UWSP’s Forestry Department that has lasted five years.

“ATC’s vegetation management team played a huge role in our decision to offer this certificate,” Dr. Les Werner, professor and director of the Wisconsin Forestry Center at UWSP, said. “They made the UWSP faculty see the opportunities for students to have a rewarding career in utility vegetation management. Without that introduction, we would probably have taken on the certificate, but we would have been at a disadvantage of what it would take to implement it.”

ATC has helped guide UWSP’s awareness of career opportunities within vegetation management, a field the company expects to see grow by 7 percent over the next five years. It listed three main drivers behind this trend: changes in regulations impacting vegetation management on transmission line rights-of-ways, regional challenges from pests and fire-prone regions, and increasing lack of public tolerance for any power interruptions.