Who We Are

"My board service has been a joy"

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.

Gail Nozal first became interested in trees when she was a child. Thinking back, she recalls playing outside and, although she didn’t know it at the time, seeing different trees with a variety of defects.

“When I was a little kid I didn’t really think of forestry as being a career choice, but I thought it was cool seeing how some trees would fail,” she said. “I thought it was interesting to think about how this could have happened and I was fascinated by trees, how they lived and their whole life cycle.”

 Nozal eventually went on to study at the University of Minnesota where she studied Urban Forestry. She also earned her Master’s in Forestry with an emphasis in education.

 Nozal said it has always been a real passion of her to merge the two areas—education and forestry. In fact, she had the opportunity while working for a nonprofit earlier in her career.

“I was able to help [the nonprofit] develop some online content for an employment program that involved youth working in forestry and landscape projects,” Nozal said. “The content helped them get school credit during the summer when they were working.”

Although that took place earlier in her career, Nozal has continued to work in her community. In 2004 she managed an i-Tree voluntary inventory project in the city of Minneapolis. At this time, Minneapolis was the reference city in the Midwest, and she had the opportunity to manage approximately 22 different volunteer crews that were collecting data on a variety of different trees throughout the city. Many of Nozal’s other projects have involved training staff as well as volunteers, and continuing to speak with community groups about the importance of trees.

Today, Nozal works as an Area Manager for the Davey Resource Group. She is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist®, ISA Municipal Specialist® and holds the Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ). She is also a member of the Minnesota Chapter of the ISA and serves as the Secretary for the ISA Board of Directors.

“My board service has been a joy,” she said. “I started off with ISA as my local chapter’s Certification Committee Chair. I enjoy being on the board and meeting fellow arborist from all over the world as well as helping to provide the strategic direction for the ISA.”

  Nozal said her biggest accomplishment has been developing her staff.

 “When I see a staff member who was maybe an intern for me years ago and they’ve gone on to get a PhD and are now in the field of urban forestry or they continued on in their career and are working for a large city in the area, it’s exciting to see how they’ve developed and how they continue to contribute to our field.”

 With more than 25 years of experience in the industry, Nozal said she’s seen the industry change a lot of the years.

 “When I started in the early 1990s there weren’t a lot of women involved in urban forestry or arboriculture and there weren’t a lot of job opportunities at that time either,” she said. “Today, however, it has changed quite a bit. There are still quite a few more men in the industry than women, but our office here in St. Paul is about 50 percent women which wouldn’t have been the case years ago.”

 Nozal said it’s good to see more diversity in the industry, and credits it for why the industry has developed so quickly over the years.

“We all come from different a set of experiences, and we each contribute those unique sets of experiences to what we do day to day,” she said. “So having a variety of different people from all over the world and different walks of life is really the key to really expanding our knowledge base, experience and ability to work with others, because without that variety of people I don’t feel like we’d advance the field of arboriculture as quickly.”

Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.