The Eagle

Sciutto branches out into new career

Story by Elise Palmer, Sports and Photography Editor

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Teacher Eric Sciutto hangs in the air, 90 feet above the ground, chainsaw in hand. He slices the top of a tree off, but the ropes connected to the tree extended five more feet than he anticipates. The tree top swing and slams into Sciutto, who ended up breaking two ribs. Even with the injury, Sciutto returned to the tree the next day to finish the job.

“Every cut could literally be your last cut, so you treat it that way,” Sciutto said.

Apart from being a physical education teacher and coach of the East Meck wrestling team, Sciutto is an arborist, or tree surgeon. He specializes in climbing and dismantling trees.

Sciutto entered the tree service 11 years ago, and created his own business in 2012: Chimpantree Service. One would wonder how Sciutto found this odd profession, but he explains that climbing is rooted in his past. As a kid, Sciutto grew up in upstate New York where there is a mountain ridge called the Shawangunks – one of the top five places to climb in the world.

“I started rock climbing at a young age and as I got older I took that avenue into tree service because it pays really well,” Sciutto said. “I was in my early 20’s, just gotten out of college, and I was teaching full time. In the summertime the tree business boomed so I got into the business.”

There is an abundance of work to be done in the tree industry, but Sciutto says he and his crew typically cut limbs off the side of the tree and cut the top of the tree, also known as blowing the top off. Sciutto works to prevent tree damage and maintain the conditions of trees.

“Different situations have different protocol,” Sciutto said. “Basically we blow the top out and come back down the tree. We block different sections of the tree on the way down.”

Although working as an arborist seems like a strictly physical job, Sciutto says there is a lot of critical thinking involved in the process.

To ensure that no damage is done to people or items on the ground, a complicated ropes system is used to lower the severed limbs to the ground. The trees that Sciutto climb are, on average, 90 to 100 feet tall and their limbs can be very heavy. This is a potential threat if something goes wrong. The tension set on the ropes need to be a certain amount to make the process of lowering tree limbs safe and efficient.

“There’s a lot of physics involved in [this profession],” Sciutto said. “Kinetic energy is related with how far the limbs fall. Depending on the size of the limb, two more feet [of falling] can create about 500 to 1,000 times more force [on the ropes].”

Sciutto knows how meticulous the tree service is and he works to makes sure that everything is very precise. He believes that being thorough in your work is a quality that all arborists need to have.

“It’s extremely precarious,” Sciutto said. “You need to be very particular, I triple check everything: my gear, my groundsmen. I make sure the tension on the rope is where it needs to be.”

Sciutto loves the challenge of working in the air. Balancing climbing and teaching can be very taxing for him, but Sciutto believes that the balance is beneficial for him in the long run.

“Different jobs have different types of stress,” Sciutto said. “When you’re 90 feet in the air and you’re looking down, it makes you appreciate things. It makes me appreciate coming back as a teacher. It balances mental capacity in the classroom with a very physical work, it helps keep me sane.”

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