In recent years, TCIA has actively supported women in tree care through forums at TCI EXPO that focus on topics including leadership, mentoring, and running a business. The conferences also provide a valuable opportunity “to network and engage in conversations about their experiences in this industry.”
TCIA has also created the “Women in Tree Care” Facebook group that allows women to connect online. “Group members have been actively sharing relevant and inspiring articles, promoting upcoming events and training opportunities, posting selfies and even sharing tips about tough topics such as negotiating salary increases.”
TCIA also emphasizes that there is more to the tree care industry than, well, tree care. There is an entire world behind the scenes of “office managers, marketing directors, recruiters, sales staff and more.”
And TCIA practices what it preaches. In 2018, 65% of their staff of 46 employees was comprised of women.
Women in the Tree Care Industry
We asked Tchukki Andersen and Amy Tetreault of TCIA about their niches in tree care and how the industry is changing. Their answers revealed two very different paths that have both yielded successful careers.
At the dawn of the 1990s, Tchukki Andersen was between jobs and mowing lawns to get by when one of her customers asked if she could prune their dogwood tree. Despite “knowing absolutely nothing about pruning,” she accepted the gig. The customer – who Andersen says also didn’t know anything about pruning – was satisfied when the job was completed, which encouraged her to learn more about proper pruning techniques.
“I really enjoyed pruning,” she recalls, “and it was way easier than mowing lawns!”
Nearly 30 years later, and Andersen is a Staff Arborist with TCIA where she focuses on Plant Health Care and developing volumes of training materials for TCIA members to use with their crews. In addition to holding both an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry, she is also a Board Certified Master Arborist, a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional and a Certified Crane Operator.
Perhaps remembering her beginnings in tree care, Andersen is dedicated to providing other people interested in tree care – at all stages of their career – the education that she eagerly sought out after her first pruning job.
TCIA’s educational initiatives fall under a broad canopy. This includes everything a tree care professional needs to know to operate within industry standards. This covers verything from safety training to how to buy insurance. One way that the industry has changed throughout her career is that it is becoming increasingly open to women.
Women in Tree Care Pre-Conference at TCI EXPO
Andersen says that TCIA is stepping up in supporting women in tree care, and is providing additional training opportunities. One example is the Women in Treecare Workshop which will take place at TCI EXPO in Indianapolis, November 4-6, 2021.
“I am thrilled to see all the women entering the field in different capacities,” says Andersen. “There is so much opportunity! I would encourage women to explore the different facets of tree care and test drive areas that look interesting.”
Tree care is a massive industry, and there is plenty of room for people of diverse experiences and skill-sets.
“There is outdoor work, there is indoor work, research, training, and business opportunities,” she says.
On the Corporate Side
Amy Tetreault, Senior VP of Corporate Engagement at TCIA, is someone who has taken the closer-to-the-ground approach to a career in tree care. For more than ten years, Tetreault has brought her business experience – marketing, fundraising, and corporate engagement – to TCIA.
Tetreault explains that in addition to the arborists who are literally in the trees, TCIA also has corporate members. This includes suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers. Her division is responsible for connecting these corporate members with the tree care companies.
“I think this role highlights, again, how working in this industry isn’t relegated to climbing trees,” says Tetreault.
She adds: “There have always been amazing women in this industry, leading the charge and paving the way. Over my past ten years in the industry, I’ve seen a lot of growth and development around women in the industry.”
Specifically, Tetreault points to “established industry folks” like Melissa and Bear LeVangie, who founded the Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop; “badasses” like Krista Sterling, a world-champion tree climber; business leader Mundy Wilson Piper of the TCIA Board of Directors; and Caitlin Pollihan who is reinventing the International Society of Arboriculture.
“How couldn’t we see growth?” she asks. “A rising tide raises all boats.”