Early PNW-ISA Chapter Arborist Certification

John Hushagen
Retired Commercial Arborist - PNW-ISA CoR Delegate

Most current members in our region are likely unaware that before there was a Certified Arborist exam sponsored by the International ISA, the PNW chapter had its own CA (Certified Arborist) test. In the late 1980’s, the Western chapter had developed an immediately successful certification exam for its region.  Some of our chapter founders promoted making arborist certification available to PNW members. Around this same time, Susan Murray, a chapter member and college horticulture instructor from the Vancouver, BC area wrote an arborist certification as part of her Master’s thesis.

In 1990 or early 1991, a small committee of chapter members from BC, Washington and Oregon, began to meet to go through Susan’s exam, question by question, and make it ready for PNW members to take.  This process took several months, and I believe we had the exam ready to present at the ATC in the fall of 1991. Not to be outdone by the upstarts from the West Coast, within 12-18 months, the International ISA had its own exam ready to deliver, and it replaced all individual chapter tests.  All those who had passed the PNW exam had their CA status recognized by the International. Certification fueled the rapid growth of the PNW chapter and the whole ISA, and helped turn even spur climbing toppers into real arborists all around the world!