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I am most proud of my volunteer efforts throughout my career, from small local tree organizations all the way up to the ISA President

In honor of International Women’s Day, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is sharing stories about women in the arboriculture profession throughout the month of March to honor their contributions to the industry.

Anne Beard’s journey to becoming an arborist began with a love of trees. Beard grew up in the Midwest, and during the summers would travel to her family’s cabin in the forest of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where her appreciation for nature grew.

“Like many people, my love for trees and being in the outdoors was cemented when I was very young,” she said. “I listened to my father tell stories of growing up and living in the [Upper Peninsula] and began to imagine a career where I could combine my passion with earning a living.”

It was during high school when Beard decided to study forestry.

Anne Beard Women in Arboriculture 2021“As a high school student, I remember feeling pressure to choose a career and decide what I would do with the rest of my life,” she said. “A friend of mine was determined to become a forest ranger and work alone in the forest looking for forest fires. As I did not have any other interests at that time other than my love of being in the forest, which sounded like a great idea to me.”

After high school, Beard attended the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Forestry with an Administration emphasis and a Natural Resources minor. She also earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma City University.

Beard holds the ISA Certified Arborist® and the ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist™ credentials. She is also ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. 

Once Beard earned her degree, she first worked as a utility forester in Oklahoma, “I was so excited to begin my career, but I had much to learn,” she said. “I never imagined working for a utility company when I was studying Forestry in College. I was fortunate to have some patient managers who guided me and provided constructive feedback as I learned the ropes.”

Over the past 30 years Beard has continued to work in the utility field of arboriculture. She currently serves as the manager and systems forester for Public Service Company of New Mexico and Texas New Mexico Power Company.

“I have managed the Vegetation Management program for both companies for the last 17 years,” she said. “I have also managed the Joint Use and Street lighting departments. Recently I have taken on the responsibility for Wildfire Mitigation efforts at the company.”

Beard currently serves as President of the ISA Board of Directors. She also served as a past president of the Utility Arborist Association, on the ISA Midwest Chapter Board, and the ISA Certification Test Committee.

“Attending my first ISA event was also memorable as I had never had the experience of networking with so many professionals in the industry before,” she said. “Being elected President of the ISA many years later was certainly not in my thoughts at the time but it has been a humbling experience.”

However, Beard’s journey has not been without its difficulties. Beard said that most of her challenges centered on being the best version of herself.

“It is a constant challenge to not only recognize your shortcomings but to then purposefully act to improve on yourself,” she said. “I am always learning but often must remind myself to keep my mind open to differing perspectives and allow myself to be receptive to novel ideas. Many times, the only path to this recognition is time ‐ time to learn from your mistakes and experiences you have in your career. Being accountable for one’s actions is a way to overcome this challenge. Overall, I tried to look at challenges as something to be overcome rather than something to hold me back. Mostly, I try to be positive and recognize that life will continue to present different trials, but it is how I choose to look at them that will determine my success.”

Looking back over her career Beard said that the moments she’s most proud of are the times when she’s been able to help others.

“I am most proud of my volunteer efforts throughout my career, from small local tree organizations all the way up to the ISA President,” she said. “It has been a pleasure and a challenge that has been very rewarding in my professional career and my personal life. I am also very proud of leading great teams of utility vegetation management professionals over the years who always have safety as their primary focus and who work together successfully to accomplish common goals.”

 To learn more about women making an impact in the arboriculture industry, visit the ISA website.

Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.