The Crew

Our staff is what makes us better! Learn a little more about the well-educated and highly-qualified crew at Royce’s Tree Service (RTS).


Eli Jackson
ISA Certified Arborist® (SO-10163A)

Eli started his tree climbing career in 2014 during his freshman year at Warren Wilson College (WWC). He worked with the Landscaping Crew to maintain the trees at WWC for two years before deciding tree work was his passion. Eli loves climbing in all forms and particularly enjoys rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. He is also a talented potter, musician, and has a keen sense of humor. Eli worked hard and became RTS’ third ISA Certified Arborist® in 2018.


Jonathan Rowland
Wilderness First Aid certification
BA in History

Jonathan became interested in conservation after working for the Clinton County (PA) Conservation District. The opportunities to positively impact the environment led to him joining American Conservation Experience, a conservation corps that taught him how to prune trees and operate a chainsaw. Jonathan is most interested in gaining more knowledge about sustainable pruning and SRT climbing. When he is not working, Jonathan enjoys foraging for wild mushrooms, playing the drums, and water sports. Jonathan plans to become an ISA Certified Arborist® as soon as he is eligible.

Jonathan also creates fine woodworking projects like simple charcuterie boards, bowls, and shelves. Click here for photos of his creations and/or contact Jonathan directly at jonathan.rowland84@gmail.com.


Gabe Whitlock
NC Commercial Pesticide Applicator-GHLO (026-37153)
BA in Chemistry and Psychology

Gabe has worked in a variety of capacities in an outdoor setting, including several farms across the country. He has also had many informal experiences working with both light and heavy duty equipment to complete farm tasks. Most recently, his interest lies within plant health care and integrated pest management from growing an array of low-till, organically raised vegetables on a farm in Western North Carolina. In his spare time, he appreciates touring the country by bicycle, baking pies, handcrafting beer and soap, and reading all types of non-fiction literature. Gabe plans to become an ISA Certified Arborist® as soon as he is eligible.


Phil Ferguson
BS in Geography Geography and a minor in Environmental Studies

Phil graduated from Illinois State University in 2010 with a BS in Geography and a Minor in Environmental Studies, planning to work in a natural resources field. He worked as a trail maintenance intern for the US Forest Service during the summer of 2010 in the Modoc National Forest in Northern California, cutting trees out of pristine wilderness trails using only antique crosscut saws. Afterward, he travelled around the country for a year before landing in Asheville in 2011 and starting his sword fighting instruction business, The Wandering Swordsmen, in 2013. His business was his sole profession for 7 years, working through educational programs for youth and at regional music festivals to teach Belegarth-style foam sword fighting to people all over the country, until the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to operate his business in 2020. Seeking work in an essential trade and having deeply missed doing tree work, Phil applied to numerous arborist companies, and was hired by Royce in June of 2020. He is deeply enjoying working in this newfound profession with a fantastic team, and plans to continue working full time with RTS after his business hopefully reopens again in the future.


Elijah Dumitrescu
BS in Forestry and Environmental Studies

Elijah started his arborist career at Warren Wilson College where we worked on the Landscaping crew. This is where he found his love of climbing and working with trees. While at school he studied Forestry and Environmental Education, and consequently, spent a lot of time outside learning how to identify trees while discovering all the interconnected ways that the trees interact with the landscape. He is passionate about learning new kinds of climbing systems and rigging, as well as seeing different schools of thought when it comes to this trade. He is also passionate about camping, hiking, timbersports, and making sure that future generations have beautiful green spaces to interact with. Elijah plans to become an ISA Certified Arborist® as soon as he is eligible.