We continue our interview series with a discussion with Sara, who provides a woman’s perspective on the tree climbing industry.
Bartlett:So tell us who you are and how long you have been in the tree climbing industry:
name is Sara and I’ve been a tree trimmer officially since March of
2017. I started on the (IBEW Local 17) property in Nov,
Bartlett:What do you like most about being in the tree industry?
I love being outside. I like the freedom and that everything is a challenge. It’s something you can’t study for. You have to go out and do it. It’s always working your brain; it’s not just manual labor or brute force.
I like that trees are all over the world and the service we provide is something that’s always going to be needed.
think that’s the nice thing about tree climbing. So many times
people think we’re lumberjacks!
Yeah, like you go out with axes and chainsaws. No! You have to be careful. You have to make sure it looks nice.
how did you get involved in the tree industry?
Dad is a lineman, so I always knew it existed. A lot of people don’t
even know there are line clearance tree trimmers. I discovered I
liked working with my hands and I thought I wanted to be an
electrician, but I wanted something more stable, and like I said,
trees are all over the world!! It’s a pretty cool program and it’s
rewarding—you did something, you see your results!!
I also had a friend who was doing it and he was so happy. His name is Darren Anderson and he genuinely liked what he did, so that was a big motivator.
And there’s a potential future to do other things, it’s a part of the world!
tree world is honestly endless!! It’s crazy to think you could have
a career traveling the world climbing trees! Past Generations had no
idea this would be possible! It’s the coolest job in the world!
It’s not impossible for women to do. It might be a little more challenging, but it’s so rewarding once you finally do it! And the same thing for a guy; it’s not a male or female thing—you’re just doing something awesome!
what do you enjoy about climbing? Do you like being up in the
always liked roller coasters and rides…but it’s not for
everybody. You can think you are not afraid of heights but when you
go up and the wind is whipping you back and forth, it gives you
a rush! And it feels good to be alive, and it feels good to be
strong, and it feels good to be healthy. It’s being out in nature,
in the elements, really.
Bartlett:It’s so strange to be in the top of another living organism!! You coexist!
I want to make it look nice for the people. I want to help the tree
be healthy. It’s all connected. It’s about balance. We’re all
in this together and it’s cool to be a part of it.
do you find difficult about climbing trees, as a female or as a
There are so many safety procedures and tools, so that’s why I get mad when they say it’s a man’s job. You shouldn’t be killing your body either way.
The most difficult thing at this step in my progress is to problem solve and figure out how to do things because there is a way to do pretty much anything, but it’s hard to have the vision sometimes, and I know that comes with time and experience. But I’ve never felt as stupid as I have with this job because so much of this is common sense, haha!! So many times I’ll think, why didn’t I think of that? I’m not trying to lie, it’s challenging, but that’s what makes it rewarding. I don’t think any particular part is really hard.
Bartlett:You get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Just work through it.
Sara:Yes! And that will teach you if you have a better plan from the ground that will save you time. But others will say you have to trim the tree, just co-climb. You have to find a balance of what’s right for you.
are some words of advice for females looking to get into the tree
industry, particularly in the U.S. because in Canada it’s so
encouraged and accessible for women.
Just go do it! Just go see what you can do! You can do anything you want to do. Anything in life can be hard. Studying for your Master’s Degree can be hard. Doing anything physically demanding can be hard. Just go see what you can do!
Bartlett:Have you been to any Competitions?
Sara:Yeah! I’ve been to TREE JAM CAMP and I went to the MTCC last year. Being pretty new I didn’t know much about it. I was thinking there was going to be more women there (climbing). I think this is going to be a way to shine, a way to excel, and a way to stick out—a way to see what you can do in the field now. That way when more women come in, they can build an actual competition. It’s all stepping stones. It has to start somewhere.
Bartlett:Are you going to compete:
Sara:I keep thinking about. It’s like anything in life: if you put your mind to it you can pretty much do it if you make the time. Just like trimming, at least you did it and you’re learning. Yes, I am interested.
Bartlett:Competitions are a great place to learn! You may even learn more there than in the field. You’ll meet amazing people!! Even if you just go and volunteer it will open up so many doors!
Sara:I do think it’s important that people know (there’s women in the industry)—like a teenage girl thinking about a job! I’m proud of it! I’m a mom. I didn’t want to go with the whole “woman thing” but it’s true, we make babies, we’re strong! We can do things!! I think that’s what’s really cool about it. I can drive a stick shift and I can run a 261 up in a tree. It’s pretty cool!!
Bartlett:What drives you to be better every day?
Sara:My son. I want to be a good role model for him. It’s an inspiration to be a hard worker in general and I’ve always been a hard worker. Also, putting good back into the world. It’s about being a part of everything. Doing the best you can.
I think there are more guys out there that care than don’t care, but being an apprentice you feel a lot of pressure to go fast. And it’s easy to chop and go and then you don’t even have to use your brain that much when tree climbing, but I don’t want a homeowner to come out to drink a cup of coffee on their porch and look up at their tree and be upset about it or to have their tree be unhealthy or die. You do have to be efficient and you have to be fast. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the private side or on our side, you still have to think about the tree.
Thanks for sitting down with us Sara! It was great talking to you and getting your perspective on learning, climbing, and life.
If you know of anyone that you think should be interviewed, please comment in the section below or send us a message on Facebook. We would love to hear your tree climbing story!