Across the world, ISA Members dedicate their efforts to promoting the professional practice of arboriculture and fostering greater awareness of the benefits of trees. The ISA Member Spotlight allows ISA to share our members' stories and recognize their accomplishments and contributions to the arboriculture industry. This month, ISA is highlighting Judith Oppong.
Judith Oppong, an ISA student member and Ph.D. candidate in Urban Forestry at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is working hard to achieve her goals of making a difference. She started her studies with her undergraduate degree in Ghana before moving halfway across the world to study at the University of Alabama where she received her Master’s in Geography and Natural Resources. However, it was a chance meeting with a professor from Louisiana that helped her fall in love with the idea of tree populations in urban settings with a focus on tree care and management. It was the perfect field of study where she could combine her previous education of geography and urban planning while keeping a strong focus on forest protection and conservation, a topic she is extremely passionate about. Currently, Judith is working on a research project that focuses on the impacts of biochar as a fertilizer on urban soils. Her research will help the world understand how bio-based fertilizers can help the growth, development, and function of urban forests to increase their overall benefit to the environment and people of the world.
The perfect marriage of her previous and current studies will hopefully bring her to an organization where she can apply GIS (geographic information systems) techniques to understand environmental and urban forest changes that yield policy changes for the protection and conservation of the environment and, specifically, urban forests. Her ultimate career goals include working for the United Nations on world development and writing policies that aid in the planning of urban forestry systems that promote forest protection and conservation on a global scale.
For Judith, being part of the ISA global network means connecting with like-minded individuals in her future profession. She plans to take the ISA Certified Arborist exam when she graduates in May 2023 to confirm her knowledge of the arboriculture field as this credential is extremely important for opportunities in the Urban Forestry space. When asked about the future of arboriculture, Judith says that she “would like to see arboriculture as a community engagement program where everyone gets to be a part of the tree planting and management process to ensure maximum satisfaction and enjoyment of the associated benefits of arboriculture.”