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2021 Richard E. Abbott Safety Scholarship Recipients

Safety has been and always will be at the forefront of our organization — in the services we provide to our utility partners and in developing the industry’s newest leaders.

This dedication to safe practices is a core value of the organization that is ingrained in our DNA and a nod to our founder Richard E. Abbott, who helped develop the Z133 Tree Trimming Safety Standards through the American National Standards Institute. His influence on safety set a precedent for our industry.

A commitment to safety and the development of our employees is showcased in our organization’s Richard E. Abbott Safety Scholarship — a $1,000 award that is granted annually to two employees who are seeking to further their career development and commitment to safety.

Congratulations to our inaugural recipients Lorraine Konopka, a consulting utility forester for ACRT, and Jason Llano, a utility arborist supervisor I for ACRT.

Lorraine Konopka

After witnessing a substantial power outage in 2019, and the investigation that followed, Konopka “realized the importance of safety protocols, understanding the power of electricity, and the necessity of clear communication between different departments.”

She plans to use her award to work towards becoming an ISA Certified Utility Specialist — a certification that will help keep peers and herself safe when working in the field.

“[Lorraine] always exemplified what the safety culture of ACRT stands for. Her tenacity to work safely was very effective in spreading the safety culture to others within her workgroup and our customer.”

— William T. Rockwell, a senior operations supervisor for National Grid

Jason Llano

Early in his career, Llano realized, “that tree work was very hazardous and the importance of promoting a culture of safety.”

His goal is to further his knowledge by finding the best ways to convey and implement a culture of safety to newcomers and veterans of the industry.

“Traditionally, ‘tree guys’ just wait for the ‘safety guy’ to leave so they can get back to work. With Jason, they will actually stop work to discuss their plan of action. He engages with them and is an active part in their safe work practices. I am an avid believer of safety before production and Jason has been a huge part of breaking down the barriers to the conventional relationship of arborists and safety observers.”

— Ben Baker, a general foreman for Wright Tree Service

ACRT Services Staff

ACRT Services offers expert independent consulting solutions to utilities and associated organizations throughout the United States, including vegetation management consulting, ecological consulting, arborist training, customized safety courses, technology solutions, utility metering services, and more to empower the best people in the industry.

March 2024