Sometimes the Opportunities Will be Looking for You

Lyle Feilmeier
Bartlett Tree Experts
Learn more about Lyle Feilmeier.

I had an interesting event happen to me that brought my trust in our youth back into an acceptable range. It seems to me that youth of today are clouded about the reality of life after high school. Most are fully supported by their parents financially, emotionally, and educationally, and have no trust of experience in adulthood because they never had to support themselves.

Recently, a friend of the family’s son contacted me to discuss opportunity in the arboricultural field. He was a high school dropout who finished school by getting his GED. After heavy pushing from his parents to get out of the house and get a job, he landed a position at a call-center answering phones for $10.00 per hour. After several months of paying rent and buying food, he started realizing that an hour worked only covers a small portion of your monthly financial needs. Do you spend it on that new video game or buy groceries for the week until the next pay check? Anyway, I had only met our friend’s son one or two times during some holiday dinners or get togethers. I found him a lazy and unmotivated individual. However, he found me interesting and excited about my career in arboriculture, and that must have made an impression on him. He texted me one day and asked if I could meet him for a cup of coffee. His dad followed up with a phone call and described the interest his son had in trees and my career. I agreed to meet to satisfy his dad even though I had no intention to meet very long, due to my busy schedule.

We met as scheduled with formal introductions and just started to chat. At first, I was annoyed with him explaining his laziness and lack of motivation. After about 15 minutes, the conversation started changing. This lazy, unmotivated, spoon-fed youth started owning his faults and laziness. He started seeing his current life as a dead end, living off of society even though he was a very capable, smart, and slowly becoming motivated guy. He started to identify things that made him happy and driven. He started talking about trees and plants and how they affect him emotionally and spiritually. He started asking me questions about my career and how I got started and why I am an arborist. He asked questions about me so that even I had to think about my own motivation in this career. Three and a half hours later, we were into philosophy and life. I didn’t want the conversation to end. I was truly enlightened and re-invigorated in my career and the new generation of arborists who don’t even know they will be arborists or something in the green industry. The meeting was a success. This fall he will hopefully be attending the Arboriculture course at Clackamas Community College.

We as arborists, certified or not, affect or touch many lives, from young individuals looking for guidance to the older looking for professional tree care. We all have to do our part and promote the profession and look for those opportunities. Sometime the opportunities will be looking for you. We are a profession of nature, and nature has been doing this far longer than we.