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Speelman Gets Certified
February 15, 2006

He's not a tree hugger. But he does love what trees bring to a community. And now he's a newly minted certified arborist.

He is Calvin landscape supervisor Robert Speelman. His community is the 400-acre Calvin campus, home to 4,200 students and another 700 or so faculty and staff members. And his recent certification, which included an exam administered by the local chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, is a testament, Speelman says, not to him, but to Calvin.

Bob Speelman"I worked for the arborist certification mainly because I enjoy working with trees and learning about them," he says. "The ISA certification is a formal way to show my knowledge and concern for the trees on Calvin's campus. To know tree care thoroughly is a natural part of my job here. Our trees really do add a sense of stability and permanence to the campus. High quality tree service workers work for this certification, but not many grounds department supervisors have it."

Speelman notes that there are about 4,000 planted trees on Calvin's campus alone. He estimates that there are perhaps over 10,000 or more additional trees in "natural" areas, areas that have been left untouched since Calvin purchased the Knollcrest Campus a half century ago.

"Yes," he says with a chuckle, "I do know the names of every tree, shrub and perennial on campus - all of the landscape plants. I'm still working on learning all the native plant names."

Trees, he says, are both part of Calvin's heritage and a legacy for the future. In the last dozen years or so Speelman has planted almost 1,000 trees on campus.

"To think of some of those trees being around 50 or 100 years from now is exciting to me," he says.

Speelman says he enjoys being creative at Calvin with "the very stuff of God's hands," trees, rocks, soil and flowers.

And, he adds, "working with the summer student grounds crew is also a great part of my job."