Making the Industry What you Want
Colleen O’Sullivan’s journey with didn’t begin with trees, but rather in garden centers in Indiana where she would work after school and on breaks from college. It wasn’t until after she earned her degree and moved to Oregon to study landscape maintenance that she discovered she had more of a passion for trees.
“After moving to Oregon I became an ISA Certified Arborist® and I majored in Urban Forestry at Oregon State,” O’Sullivan said.
After completing her studies at Oregon State, O’Sullivan moved to Preston, United Kingdom to earn an MSc in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture at Myerscough College.
She has since gone on to become an ISA Certified Municipal Specialist® and earned the Tree Risk Assessment Qualification.
After graduating from Myerscough College began working as a tree officer with the London Borough of Camden. As a tree officer, O’Sullivan is required to look after and inspect all the trees within the borough.
“One of the biggest projects we’ve been working towards is putting all of the tree information for the Camden Council online,” she said. “It’s been rewarding to make all of this information available to the public.”
Additionally, O’Sullivan serves on the executive committee of the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA). Established in 1982, the LTOA address problems and issues that impact London’s trees and woodlands.
It was through the LTOA that O’Sullivan got the opportunity to become a tree officer representative on the Arboriculture Association Women in Arboriculture working party, where she said she’s “enjoyed being a part of their network.”
“I feel empowered to make the industry what I want of it,” she said. “By being a female arborist, I get to promote being a part of the industry in a way I couldn’t if I were male, and I take that very seriously. I can show the way and open doors for people who want to be an arborist.”
O’Sullivan said that by opening the door to more people the industry not only increases diversity, but it will create the opportunity to bring in newer perspectives.
“Having women in the industry brings a different perspective,” she said. “We’ve all gotten here through different means, and we bring a fresh perspective. We need as many perspectives as possible.”
Additionally, she went on to say that we can help bring in fresh perspectives by educating people at an early age about the industry.
“I know I was interested in landscape design, but if I had been introduced to this at 18 I would have [gotten involved in arboriculture] then,” she said. “Letting kids know this is something you can do is important. Yes, you can look at trees all day.”
Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.