What does a day in your work life look like?
I normally drive a truck with an aerial lift/bucket, chip box + chipper to work. We get to the job site, take a look at the trees in question, and make a plan. I use the bucket to do a lot of the pruning and takedowns that we do, but if we can’t access the tree that way, we’ll set up a climb. I’ve been climbing for 4 seasons now and it is so fun. I normally set my line from the ground, harness up, clip in and ascend to my tie-in point to assess the situation from the air because it always looks different up top. Often I’ll need to set a second line with a pulley to rig pieces down safely if there are obstacles under the tree. Part of what makes my job so lovely is that every tree is distinct from all others. The route you take to climb up, the order of operations, and the final result are all different every day.
What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?
I needed a change. I was a bit directionless after years of university, college, tree planting, cabinet making, landscaping, and a number of other random jobs. I knew a few things about myself at that point: I love hands-on tasks (especially those involving power tools), I am fascinated by plants, and I need to be outside. I took a night class in arboriculture just for interests’ sake, and I sat at the front of my class drooling over the things I was learning. When I realized that you can get paid to climb trees for your job, I was sold.
Did you complete any training? If not, how did you learn your trade/skill?
The arboriculture class I took wasn’t necessary for me to start working in the tree care industry, but when I applied for a job with a local tree care company, I think it helped them to understand that I was serious about wanting to learn how to do all of it - the chainsaw maintenance, the bucket work, the climbing, the rigging, the cabling…I showed enthusiasm, asked lots of questions, and I loved it. My employer @treesolve has always been awesome about giving me challenges and supporting me through active problem solving. After my first year, I wrote the international arboriculture exam and since then I’ve been an ISA certified arborist.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Growing up, I always loved creative writing as well as every sport I could play, so I wanted to be an author or an athlete. In my last year of high school I decided on being a firefighter, but then I got a scholarship to go to university so I went that route for a while.
What are you great at, and what do you suck at?
We all have strengths and shortcomings.
I’m good at fessing up when I don’t know how to do something, laughing off mistakes, baking, party planning, pulling introverts out of their shells.
I suck at confrontation with other people, getting my throwline up into the trees and hitting the right spot to set my climbing system (tangled mess 90% of the time), racket sports, directions, tech stuff.
What scares you?
Earthworms. Gross. And giant catfish. Terrified. And getting old & being obsolete to everyone around me.
What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?
Do your work with excellence because that’s a good thing to do, but it is just as important that you strive to learn more, climb higher, and rig bigger, harder pieces down, for the sake of the next generation of female arborists, and minorities in general. We are at a pivotal point in all traditionally male-dominated industries; it is vital for people to keep seeing us skillfully and confidently complete difficult work, so that in years to come it will be so normal that there’ll be no caveats, spoken or implied, about having done a great job (for a woman).
What are the top five things that are always in your pockets?
Sawdust, Ricola, Pilot Precise V5 RT pen, scrunchie, Olfa knife
What are you doing when you’re not working hard?
Gardening, watching The Office on loop with my cat in my lap, baking, doing puzzles, camping, sitting in a hot tub, making soup, eating charcuterie.
Tell us something surprising about you.
I played trombone in every band my high school offered.
I took a beekeeping course at university.
I love me some stationary. Notebooks, journals, fancy paper clips, sexy pens, brass scissor sets…
How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
I don’t sugarcoat it - it’s a hard job, and heights are a thing. But if anyone shows even the least bit of interest, I’m all over the stories about the fun projects I’ve gotten to work on, emphasizing the variety in the work. Some days we’re saving giant eagle nests, or cats stuck up trees, the next day we’re taking down big dead cottonwoods on the river bank, and the day after that we’re pruning a whole Oak Grove on someone’s farm, or putting Christmas lights up in a spruce.
Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint one person as my role model. There have been plenty of people who’ve cheered me on through this stage of my life. A few friends around me also did their time at university and came out the other side choosing something unrelated because it just suited them better, and that has been encouragement for me as well. My friend’s mom was also a police officer while we were growing up, and I thought that was pretty cool. That normalized a female working in a typically male environment for me from a young age.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Your actions matter more than your opinions.
The good old days are happening to you as we speak!
Don’t get hung up on trying to choose the right career; look at what you know about yourself and focus on caring for these parts.
Less KD, more veggies (maybe that’s also advice for my 34-year-old self).
Cherish the people in front of you right now, whoever they are - you never know how a connection might weave its way through your life.
Do you have any special projects or cool things you want people to check out?
I grow a cut flower garden in the summer and I arrange and sell my bouquets! @foxflorals.mb
What do you have to sacrifice to be good at what you do?
This might sound silly but it wears on you over time (pun kind of intended) - my appearance. Whatever I wear is going to be completely covered in sap + wood chips + loads of sweat by the end of the day. I am in a helmet all day too so unless I tightly braid my hair, it will be a rat’s nest. And make-up just doesn’t happen. So I end up looking and feeling dishevelled and unkempt. This is one reason why women’s workwear is so important! If my clothes can work as hard as I do and still fit in a flattering way, that is a huge win.
What does workwear designed for women mean to you? Let’s get deep.
Most people spend much of their waking life at work. It feels crappy to anyone, not just women, to dress in clothes that aren’t quite right; “good enough”, “here’s the closest thing that will work”. The sentiment becomes one of fitting INTO the clothes, fitting INTO the role, rather than just belonging there in the first place. When we look like we belong up in that tree, behind that table saw, inside that excavator, that’s one less piece we need to fight for. Workwear created for women means that we already have a seat at the table. We can start from a place of power and confidence and value. The clothes being designed by women makes them that much more appropriate - the designers get it because they wear it and live it too.


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