On June 2nd, the fourth ever San Diego cohort of the Utility Line Clearance Arborist training celebrated their graduation. The certification program was received through the San Diego College of Continuing Education and San Diego Community College District (SDCCD). SDG&E’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Safety Officer, Kevin Geraghty, and the Director of Construction and Vegetation Management, Oliva Reyes, spoke at the ceremony.
Kevin Geraghty congratulated the 20 future arborists and welcomed them to their new field, “This is a momentous occasion and seeing the aspiration and talent here today makes me confident that the future of our wildfire mitigation and public safety efforts is in good hands.”
Supported by a multi-year $1.2 million grant from SDG&E, the program is completely tuition free to students who participate, removing entry barriers to diverse individuals. It is important to increase awareness and access to the arboriculture industry. These jobs are crucial to the wildfire safety efforts of our region.
At SDG&E, the safety of our customers, employees, and the communities we serve is our highest priority. Over the past decade, we have invested more than $3 billion in a variety of safety measures to prevent catastrophic wildfires.
This collaboration with the Utility Arborist Association, San Diego Community College District and California Conservation Corps (CCC), is a powerful response to how climate change, droughts, and fire suppression have led to an increase in wildfires across California. Exploring how we can ensure a solid pipeline of talent is secured for our first lines of defense against potential hazards is key in rising to the changing needs of our region.
Hamed Sediqi, a graduate with a unique journey of being a refugee from Afghanistan shared, “I came to this country full of hope… I knew I wanted to adapt quickly because I wanted to succeed. In these five weeks we have obtained many different certifications that will help us in our future and hopefully in our work for a tree company. But it has done a lot more than that, we have learned the definition of teamwork. I am excited to see what the future holds for all my peers here who have become my tree family.”
The new graduates are fully prepared for the roles ahead of them after completing their 200-hour, 5-week training that consists of hands-on experience with tree identification and biology, pruning, trimming, proper equipment and rope usage, and removal techniques. In addition to this, they receive training in techniques of First Aid/CPR, OSHA 10, flagger training, and more. In partnership with IBEW Local 465, and local contractors, the students will be navigated directly into channels for employment.
A cause for celebration, the achievement of these 20 graduates will lead them and their families to meaningful opportunities as well as advance the safety and equity of our region.
For more information on this program including how to enroll, click here.