Lori Brockelbank

Lori Brockelbank '94

Major: Liberal Arts & Sciences: Social Science
Transfer Institution: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Current Position: Urban Forester and Consulting Arborist for FORECON, Inc.
Current City: Jamestown, NY 

To many, Lori Brockelbank's job may seem difficult to explain. Her children, however, seem to understand it quite easily.

"As my children put it, I am the Lorax," said Brockelbank, urban forester and consulting arborist for FORECON Inc. "I speak for the trees — trying to promote protection and enhancement of tree canopies within urban settings."

Brockelbank's love of trees started as a child growing up in Sinclairville, she said, where she spent a great deal of time exploring and horseback riding in the outdoors. She studied psychology and social sciences at JCC, curricula that she said are helpful to her on a daily basis in the seemingly unrelated field of urban forestry.

"Urban forestry really is a social science," Brockelbank said. "It really diversified my own self, making me more adaptable toward any career choice that came in the future."

After receiving her A.A.S. degree from JCC, Brockelbank "worked many jobs," she said, in the attempt to discover her passion for life. During that time period, she began volunteering for the Green Team at the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District. By completing tasks, including surveying for dry hydrants and doing soil classification, she said, she rediscovered her true passion: working with the environment.

Brockelbank applied to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry for its program in natural resource management. The transition into the program was smooth, she said, thanks to her previous experience at JCC.

Today, Brockelbank is giving back to the college where she got her start by assisting with its Tree Campus USA designation. With the help of former Jamestown city arborist Doug Hoisington and current arborist Dan Stone, the college’s Jamestown Campus is dotted with a wide variety of tree species — and with Brockelbank's help, it is being recognized for its efforts. In 2009, the college became one of the first three campuses in New York to receive the honor, and the first community college.

"It will be ongoing for many, many years," Brockelbank said of the benefits of the college's tree canopy. "They were such a forward-thinking campus for sustainability, and this looked like a way to promote the many tree species that are on the campus."

Having a variety of trees is important, Brockelbank said, because it lessens the chance for a tree canopy to be decimated by the introduction of an invasive species or insect.

With the help of a number of JCC students participating in an urban forestry internship, Brockelbank collected data about the trees and helped the college apply for the designation. She said the internship continues at the college on an every-other-year basis, and that the students who participate benefit in more ways than one.

"We are working with a group of students to help them be the voices of the future," she said. "It really prepares them for other courses or for the work they want to do in the future. ... No matter what field they go into, we always need those individuals who can speak for the trees."

Remembering faculty members such as Becky Nystrom, Jan Bowman, and Tom Erlandson — with whom she now works on a professional basis — Brockelbank said that JCC helped prepare her to be to the voice for the trees she is today.

"Because of the diversity (JCC was) able to offer, and I think this goes for a lot of other students, it can prepare you well for life, wherever you go," she said. "You have that family you can fall back on."

By Dave Emke '01

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