Ben is keeping Chicago healthy, beautiful, and green!

Obtaining my B.S. in NRES/resource ecology from the University of Illinois has helped me tremendously in every professional position I have held. NRES taught me many skills that I use daily, including dendrology, soil science, chemistry, GIS, and plant biology. During my time as a consulting forester, I have inventoried and electronically mapped over 40,000 trees. As Urban Forester for the City of Park Ridge, I was able to protect mature trees from new construction by applying the City’s strict building code regulations. This was important for several reasons, but the focal point for me was ecology. Trees are one of the only pieces of urban infrastructure that increase benefits over time; water intake, carbon sequestration, oxygen production, shade, animal habitat/food sources are vital environmental outputs of having a mature canopy. 

Currently, I am the assistant project director of landscape maintenance for the City of Chicago. My division is responsible for administrating the contracts that maintain a diverse array of landscaped areas throughout Chicago, including Lake Shore Drive, the city hall rooftop garden, the Magnificent Mile, and all the boulevards and medians citywide. I need to be an expert on arboriculture, climate change, native plants, water management, and soil science. NRES prepared me in all these fields. 

My advice to NRES students is to never stop learning. While working as Urban Forester for Park Ridge, I was obtaining my master’s in public administration from Northwestern University. The dynamic education I had helped me obtain my current, and most satisfying, career.