My beginnings in arboriculture is a similar story to many who are in the field as it happened by chance. I was attending Sir Sanford Fleming College for parks and recreation as I wanted to get into adventure tourism. After I finished that program I started taking Forestry as I realized there really wasn't much of a career in adventure tourism. At the beginning of the Forestry semester I saw a bunch of students climbing the rafters in the school pub demonstrating climbing and the Arboriculture program. Up until this point in my life I had no idea what Arboriculture was and still didn't know quite what I wanted to do; but as soon as I saw it, I knew this was it and signed up for the program.
I’ve now been an Arborist that has been working in Arboriculture for over 13 years and my main career path has been working with municipalities. I have been fortunate in my career to work in a municipality full-time almost right out of college and had an amazing mentor to help guide me as an arborist. For any women just entering into arboriculture, my advice would be to find a good mentor. Your first mentor is going to be the one that helps to mold you into the arborist that you want to be and it is important to find the right one. Don't be afraid to move around to find the right one and the right environment for you. A good mentor that takes the time to teach you, inspires you and encourages you to learn will help to set the stage for your career. It doesn't have to be a woman, it just has to be someone willing and knowledgeable to teach you the right lessons. My first mentor shared his passion about arboriculture, positive attitude, work ethic and the lessons of being an arborist with me. These lessons and experiences are what inspired and imprinted on me and thus what I have tried to carry with me. He gave me a great foundation to start my career.
After 5 years of working in my first job, I took a huge and scary leap and moved across the province, for a guy I was seeing at the time and started with a new municipality. The guy didn’t work out but the job did, and I always look back to thank myself for taking that chance.
The first municipality I worked at, there were a couple of old boys that used to try and make my life miserable by always making comments when I would walk by; they’d either be checking me out or telling me to get back to the kitchen. In this new job, I experienced something completely foreign; my supervisor was a well-established woman who inspired and encouraged me. The forestry program was new and left to me to build (as I was the only Arborist on staff) and that’s part of what I have been doing for the last 8 years.
In 2010, I had the Ontario Tree Climbing Championship committee come to check out the main park in the municipality as we wanted to host the next event. I showed them around the park and by the end of the tour I had convinced them that I should be on the committee. This started my role with the OTCC and in 2014, when the Chair position was vacant and they were looking for a new one, I (very nervously and scared in my head) threw my hand up and said I’ll do it! From there, I was asked if I would be interested in joining the ISA Ontario Board of directors. Again, very nervously and scared in my head, said yes of course! Which then led me to another nervous and scared moment when they asked me to join the presidential stream to be president in 2019, and of course I said yes! Even though my presidential role hasn't actually started yet, one of my goals as president will be to try and inspire people in this industry to be safer, to promote professionalism, equalization and to get invovled in the industry.
Now I’m starting on my newest adventure by starting my own business called ARBministrative Solutions, that will be focused on safety, professionalism, creating custom documentation and helping tree care businesses grow; which was another one of those things that was super scary and I nervously said yes to; and this is my very selfish plug to promote my business - check out my Facebook page for more information at @arbministrativesolutions.
Even though change and challenge can be scary, sometimes you have to be the one to make things happen for yourself. Go out and get the job you want and don’t be afraid to try new things even if they are scary; you never know where it could take you.