New Staff: Cene Ketcham

Welcome to Cene Ketcham, Casey Trees’ new Extension Arborist, who you will see out and about in the community working to connect D.C. residents to tree planting programs and resources!

Now Cene may look familiar to you since he started out with Casey Trees as a volunteer back in 2011. Cene took a temporary break planting trees with us to pursue a graduate degree in urban forestry but now he is back and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him working alongside us. Get to know Cene more in his interview with us:

  1.    Who is Cene Ketcham?

A Midwestern transplant who loves life in the Mid-Atlantic. Tree-hugger, record collector, data nerd.

  1.    What brought you to Casey Trees originally?

Initially, I just wanted to know a little more about trees. I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly outdoorsy person, but, to my great shame, I really knew very little about trees. A friend recommended a “Trees 101” course put on by Casey Trees, and it really piqued my interest. I went on a tree walk and attended a Citizen Forester training session to learn how to plant, and took off from there.

  1.    Why did you decide to go back to school and become an arborist?

At a certain point, I had gone about as far as I could as a volunteer, but I still wanted to know more. I was reading books on trees and volunteering most weekends, and thought, “If I’m this interested in the topic, I should make a career out of it.” I started investigating urban forestry graduate programs, and decided to take the plunge and go back to school full-time at Virginia Tech. I’m glad I did; what could be better than a job than serving my community through trees?

  1.    What is your favorite tree? Why?

It’s hard to have one favorite tree, so I always have a different answer to this question. This time I’ll go with the bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). It reminds me of home in the upper Midwest, and they have a lot of quirky characteristics that give them appeal in every season.

  1.    Do you have any advice for aspiring arborists?

There are a wide variety of opportunities in urban forestry and arboriculture, so whether you’re more comfortable climbing trees all day or sitting in front of a computer doing analysis, there is a place for you. Talk to people involved in different aspects of the field, and see how they work together to provide a high quality urban forest for residents. Regardless of where you specialize, it’s good to know at least a little bit about everything.