I am League City: Heather McKnight
League City Arborist Heather McKnight spends her days ensuring that the City’s historic oak trees are protected and maintained. But in the evenings, you’ll find her “green thumb” wrapped around a pencil writing pages for a book she is working on. The topic? Here’s a hint, it has nothing to do with trees! Read more in this week’s “I am League City” employee profile.
What does a City arborist do?
No two days are the same. One day I might be consulting with a developer on a tree permit, another I’m using a Lorax to educate a group of students, and yet another I’m investigating a mystery tree fungus that residents have called about.
A Lorax, what is that?
(laughs) The Lorax is my favorite Dr. Seuss character. In the book he was the voice of the trees, because they have no voice. A movie, based on the book, came out a few years ago. Whenever I talk to elementary school-aged students or scout troops, I use a stuffed Lorax to address the importance of protecting trees.
Investigating a mystery fungus? How often does that happen?
More often than you know. Recently, I have been dealing with a lot of phone calls and emails from residents about a strange webbing on their oak trees. It’s actually bark lice, and it’s a good thing. Bark lice are small mites that weave a net on a tree’s trunk and limbs. The webbing cleans out algae and fungus that is dangerous to the tree.
How does one become an arborist?
I got my undergraduate degree in horticulture from Stephen F. Austin University and worked for several years in the private sector managing design projects for a commercial firm. I then came to work for League City.
You also moonlight as a college professor at San Jacinto College in Pasadena?
Yes, I teach Writing, Composition 1 and 2, three nights a week. Most of my students are freshmen or high school seniors taking dual enrollment classes.
Writing, not horticulture? How did that happen?
I have always had two loves: trees and writing. I just wasn’t sure how to combine the two into one job. I love to write and I am currently working on a book. I have a Master’s Degree in Literature from the University of Clear Lake.
What kind of book are you writing?
It’s not about trees (laughs)! It’s actually a novel loosely based on my crazy family that lives in the Florida Panhandle. It includes my Uncle Moonrock and his frequent run-ins with the law. Stay tuned!
You are in the sun a lot. What advice do you have for protection from dangerous UV rays?
A big hat!