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SDG&E Grants $1.2 Million to SDCCE Foundation to Fill Statewide Need for Skilled Arborists

August 26, 2022

 Pre-apprentices training to become skilled arborists at the Educational Cultural ComplexYoung adults are doing their part to keep San Diego safe by containing wildfire risk. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has awarded a $1,255,800 three-year grant to the San Diego College of Continuing Education Foundation’s Employee Training Institute (ETi) to provide Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training.

The tuition-free program is a 200-hour 5-week training to become a skilled arborist who supports California in preventing fires by clearing trees away from utility equipment and lines. Graduates leave the program prepared to be safe and productive workers on a line clearance crew.

“The SDCCE Foundation is excited to bring awareness to the arboriculture industry and as a result of SDG&E’s generous training funding, low-income San Diegans are entering a high demand, high wage career path.” said Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., SDCCE Foundation’s CEO.

SDG&E's $1.2 million grant permits the development and scholarships of the Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training Program beginning April 2022 through July 2025. Funding from SDG&E makes the SDCCE Foundation’s ETi one of the first California Community Colleges to offer a partnership between a college and a utility to support curriculum as a line-item in the company’s fire risk mitigation budget.

The Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training designed by industry experts, gives entry-level students skills that a utility line clearance arborist apprentice would learn in the first six months on the job. Upon successful completion, students will receive training in techniques such as First Aid/CPR, OSHA 10, flagger training, fire safety prevention, chippers, chainsaw usage, ropes, knots, and climbing.

The training led San Ysidro native, Sandra Marquez, 27, to a new career path. Marquez was going to start an internship with the San Diego Sheriff's department after studying for a master’s degree in forensics psychology at Grand Canyon University and earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Point Loma Nazarene University.

SDG&E Grants .2 Million to the San Diego College of Continuing Education Foundation to Fill Statewide Need for Skilled Arborists“My goal was to become a detective. That dream was put on hold due to the covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “I did not want to stop learning just because of the pandemic. I heard about the opportunity for arborist training and fell in love with it. Climbing trees is really a physical and mental challenge.”

Marquez began the arborist training in July and is now set to become a skilled arborist in the fall. “This program opens doors for everyone.”

The Arborist/Utility Line Clearance Training is open to all San Diego residents eighteen and older interested in becoming a professionally trained arborists with particular outreach to low-income communities. Prospective trainees can apply now at the SDCCD’s ETi website or email Caron Lieber at Training takes place at California Conservation Corps, Urban Corps of San Diego County, and the San Diego College of Continuing Education.


Allura Olympia Garis