Urban Forester, Forestry and Peatlands Branch of Natural Resources and Northern Development, Province of Manitoba
Prairie Representative, Canadian Urban Forest Network
1. What are your proudest accomplishments?
For almost 20 years, I have had the privilege of working with a team of dedicated professionals, managing one of North America’s most successful Dutch elm disease management programs. Communities throughout Manitoba still boast beautiful elm canopies, even after over 40 years of disease in the province. Our program works cooperatively with cities, towns, municipalities and private landowners, developing positive relationships and educating the public about the value of their urban forests. It feels good to drive into a cool, shaded, community or park on a hot summer’s day in Manitoba and know that I have made a difference to their urban forest.
2. How has the urban forestry field changed since you first entered the profession and what are the biggest opportunities ahead for women in your field?
When I first began in the field in the 1990s, I was the only female on my crew and the only woman at many meetings and work sites. Often, I was not seen (I am only 5 ft. tall and the men towered over me!) and I did not feel like my voice was heard. It was very difficult to find steel-toed work boots, chainsaw boots, chaps, cruising vests and all sorts of gear in my size – it all had to be special ordered or altered! It was a real barrier at the time. Now, you can go to any outdoors or equipment store and find a wide assortment of women’s sizes. You will be safe (wearing proper personal protective equipment), you will be heard at meetings (where there is a diversity of participants), and your opinions will be valued. So, really, there’s nothing holding women back from any opportunity within urban forestry today – the sky’s the limit (literally)!
3. What is one piece of advice you have for young girls and women that want to get into the urban forestry field?
A career in urban forestry is one that will make you feel good every day. Trees make people smile, whether they are planting small seedlings, hiking through mature forests, or sitting under majestic canopies. Urban foresters help to beautify our cities and towns, improve wildlife habitat and the environment, and positively impact people’s health. Whether you enjoy the challenge of developing urban forestry plans and policies, educating the public, working with computers and geographic information systems (GIS), the physicality of climbing trees, or using powerful equipment such as chainsaws and bucket trucks, there is a role for you in urban forestry. So, my advice is to always remember that you are capable of accomplishing anything that you set your mind to in the field of urban forestry, and you will find a rewarding (and green) path.
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