Wayne Cahilly

Meet Wayne Cahilly

Wayne Cahilly's To-Do List:

  1. Map all irrigation systems in the entire New York Botanical Garden
  2. Teach prospective arborists tree management
  3. Plan aerial tree rescue course
  4. Run Cahilly's Horticultural Services
  5. Take group on the 300-mile long "Tour to Survive"
  6. Perform vice-presidential duties for the North Jersey Home Schoolers Association, Inc.
  7. Home school kids
  8. Letterbox with wife, Audrey

A day in the life of Wayne Cahilly isn't very typical. Wayne is the manager of the mapping department for the New York Botanical Garden. In addition, he teaches a variety of classes, runs his own business, acts as the vice-president of a home school association and home schools all of his children. As Wayne puts it, "My wife and I see each other every once in a while."

Wayne isn't your normal horticulturist. Starting out mowing the lawn of a college campus, Wayne found that he enjoyed and was good at his job. He was quickly promoted to the assistant director of the grounds and soon found himself with an opportunity to attend the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.

While at the garden, Wayne remembered that someone had once told him, "If you like being somewhere, but there isn't a place for you, try to figure out what it is that the organization needs and fill that need." Wayne saw the need for a trained arborist so he not only urged the creation the job, but was the first in line to apply.

In his 24 years at the garden he has been a student, a botanical garden aide, a project manager for forest research, grounds manager for outdoor horticulture and currently runs the mapping department. He maps everything from trees to underground utilities. Wayne explained the importance of mapping, "Our plants, for all intents and purposes, if we were an art museum, would be our paintings. We function just like a museum."

On top of mapping, he teaches. His longest running class is a tree management class. He's also taught courses in tree climbing and aerial rescue in which the focus is not only accident avoidance, but rescue techniques.

Even though his career at New York Botanical Garden is unique and interesting, the business that he started is even more so. Cahilly's Horticultural Services allows Wayne to work as a consultant doing both pre- and post-failure analysis of trees. Wayne does this for individuals and municipalities, making judgments as to whether trees are structurally sound. He often is called to serve as an expert witness and to testify during litigation. In the case of property damage or injury, he can trace back the history of the tree to see what happened and when. In one case, he was able to trace back all the way to 1958 when a tree was originally injured and then worked his way through the years to figure out how and when the tree eventually died, fell and who was responsible. He sort of acts as a forensic tree investigator.

On top of two jobs, he and his wife Audrey are vice-presidents of the North Jersey Home Schoolers Association, Inc. They have home schooled their five children for the past 15 years and are still at it. The organization works as an umbrella over local support groups that provide the opportunity for social activities between home-schooled children, such as choir groups, drama clubs and a band. The organization has been successful in creating and managing these groups, giving the students opportunities to perform shows off-Broadway as well as allow their musical groups to win multiple awards.

Not that Wayne Cahilly really has any free time, but when he does he likes to give tours and letterbox. Wayne organizes a tour called "The Tour to Survive" in which he takes groups through the unique Pine Barrens ecosystem of Southern New Jersey. He's given tours to everyone from sixth graders to members of the American Museum of Natural History. It's a twelve-hour, 300-mile journey through the area that has been a destination for botanists since the 1600s. Part of the area's history includes producing iron cannons for the American Revolution, as well as hiding fugitives from the war.

Aside from giving tours, Wayne and his wife like to participate in the tradition of letter-boxing. This activity started in the 1800s in England and has been passed from generation to generation. It is, in essence, a treasure hunt. There are national web sites where participants who hide boxes in obscure places across the country can present clues as to where these boxes might be. The object is to find the box, stamp your log book with the enclosed stamp, and, in turn, leave your mark by stamping the book in the box with your personal seal.

Wayne Cahilly's life is anything but boring. His unique outlook on gardening and horticulture has led him on an amazing journey through life. He spends his days thinking outside the box and enjoying every moment of it. If you ever need an expert opinion on trees (or want to pick up letterboxing), you know where to go.

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