International Women’s Day 2023: Celia Johnstone

Tree Canada

Celia Johnstone, MFCForestry Specialist Profile_Celia Johnstone

Forestry Specialist – Greater Toronto Area, Tree Canada

Working in Urban Forestry since 2016


1. Share a story of someone that has inspired or supported you in your career.

I came to forestry later in life, only completing my Master of Forest Conservation (MFC) in my 50s. When I am asked about women who have inspired my career, I immediately think of the incredible group of young women who were students with me at the University of Toronto. Not only did they support me academically, but they were by my side every step of the way on a grueling field trip to Costa Rica – a constant source of encouragement, brilliance and laughter. My forestry sisters!

2. What are your proudest accomplishments?

I feel a great sense of satisfaction every time I plant a tree or finish a sponsored tree planting event and stop to admire the new forest we have planted. However, nothing compares to the joy I get when we plant trees in schools.

So many of our schools are devoid of trees. Without trees there is no shade, and the schoolyard is lifeless. At Tree Canada, we work hard to rectify this. At one particular school planting, I was thrilled to see the transformation of a once barren space into a vibrant, living, wooded area that within only a few hours was bustling with birds, butterflies and insects. Trees bring life! The kids were thrilled!

3. Do you have advice for girls and women that want to get into the urban forestry field?

As I travel from city to city, I am encouraged to see so many young women in the profession. They tell me that the biggest struggle they face is trying to secure a full time position in an industry where the work is seasonal. I advise them to network with everyone that they meet working in urban forestry. It is a small industry and networking is crucial for building a career. I tell them to pick up the phone, send emails, use social media, and keep their name out there.

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