• David A.F. Sweet

New Arborist Skillfully Manages What Can be a Dangerous Job

By David A. F. Sweet Kelly Bougher is a maintenance worker and a certified arborist in the Forestry Department for the City of Lake Forest. She started her job in February. She took time out from her busy position to talk with Lake Forest Love.

What do you like best about working in Forestry?

I work with knowledgeable people who are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I am consistently challenged in learning new methods and techniques involving forestry work every day. I’m extremely thankful to my crew for helping me grow as a forestry professional.

"I’ve had some amazing mentors who challenged me to become a better professional," says Kelly Bougher.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?

Every day brings a new experience and challenge with every tree we encounter, dead or alive. Forestry work can be extremely dangerous, given that we use heavy equipment (such as wood chippers, log loaders and aerial lifts), operate chainsaws, work around large, hazardous trees and occasionally climb trees as well. I am lucky to work with a talented group of individuals who get work done safely and in a timely, professional manner.

What should residents know about the Forestry Department?

The Forestry Section is a group of professional, dedicated, and passionate individuals who care for 30,000 trees on public property in Lake Forest. We all have unique backgrounds and experiences in this field, which us makes us a cohesive, well-rounded team who deeply care about our urban trees. How did you get interested in forestry as a profession?

I have a background in natural resource management and ecological restoration but was always intrigued by trees. Once I was able to get some training and experience learning tree identification as well as using a chainsaw in my previous field, I took every opportunity I could to learn, grow, and chase after work within the forestry field. I’ve had some amazing mentors who challenged me to become a better professional and supported me being a woman working in a primarily male-dominated field. The biggest highlights of my career have been becoming a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture, obtaining my Illinois CDL Class A driver’s license and becoming a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. I have worked in some amazing Lake County and Cook County Forest Preserve sites, as well as many urban natural areas within the Chicago Park District. These beautiful places created a passionate ambition within me to care for trees and their habitats, whether rural or urban.

What’s planned for Forestry in the year ahead?

We will continue with our usual tree plantings, plant health care (scouting, treatments for pests), pruning, tree removals, snow removal and holiday lights.