The Women in Tree Care Symposium: The Role of Women in the Evolution of the Tree Care Industry

What started as simple banter among a handful of women who were comparing notes and knowledge at TCIA’s Winter Management Conference more than five years ago has evolved into an annual event at TCI EXPO for women to forge friendships and share ideas about the challenges and opportunities for them in tree care.

Early conversations focused on the sizes and scarcity of clothing and gear that suited women, such as chain-saw pants that were always too big. Bringing attention to this barrier inspired new products and new dimensions and an evolving market that better accommodates women.

One of the most important underlying themes has been how women can support each other and embrace all roles they play in what has been a very male-dominated industry, and how to inspire the next generation of women in tree care.

“I remember a few years ago, a father and tree care executive brought his nine-year-old daughter to one of the first women-in-tree-care events, to inspire and nurture her interest in arboriculture. He was excited to introduce her to women in the industry so she could hear what they had to say. She even took a whole list of notes and was brave enough to get up to speak to the participants,” says Amy Tetreault, senior vice president of corporate engagement at TCIA, who helped inspire the very first gathering.

This year, the Women in Tree Care Symposium is a pre-conference event, with an entire day carved out for women to gather on November 9, right before TCI EXPO ’22 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It offers women an opportunity to discuss how they can support each other and support the growth, diversity and equity of the industry. This year’s event is sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company, Rainbow Tree Company and Bartlett Tree Experts, which also is playing host to this year’s symposium at the R.A. Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Experimental Grounds in Charlotte.

“We’re excited to host this symposium,” says Nicole Belhumeur, human resources manager at Bartlett. “More and more women are starting careers in the tree care industry. Because of events like these, companies are aware of the challenges women face. And the industry is not only listening, but they are also responding. Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have been having these conversations.”

The symposium invites women in all roles in tree care, whether they’re climbers or plant health care specialists, work in office management, human resources or sales or are owners or CEOs.

“Women in tree care doesn’t just mean women in trees. We want people to recognize that women play an instrumental and foundational role in this industry,” says Jen McPhee, co-owner of Harrison McPhee, Inc., and one of those who helped organize this year’s event, and who will be the facilitator for the day. “Women are a valued piece of the puzzle that contributes to the betterment of the whole industry.”

The day will focus on empowering ideas for women to level up their skills, their teams, their health and their communities. “We want to help women operate at their best to make the most out of their careers,” says McPhee. “This includes focusing on our unique work styles and talents that we all bring to the table. Women can play a role in growing the workforce and also broadening it to include more diverse populations.”

The symposium will include presentations, group discussions and networking opportunities, as well as a tour of the R.A. Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Experimental Grounds.

Topics include:

  • How to build teams that thrive;
  • Onboarding opportunities to increase employee retention;
  • Ways to fuel your body with energy and to overcome overwhelm; and
  • Small steps that yield diverse and skilled talent.

Speakers include:

  • Neal Glatt, managing partner and co-founder of GrowTheBench;
  • Sarah Lillie Sewell, founder and chief executive officer of Lillie Leaf Solutions; and
  • Wendie Trubow, principal at Five Journeys, an integrative medicine facility.

Women and individuals who identify as women are invited to attend the event. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. TCIA also will be offering two scholarships for attendance to the event.

Round-trip transportation will be provided between downtown Charlotte and the Bartlett labs, and lunch is included in the registration fee. For more information, click here.

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