A Legacy of Trees
For Lisa Tadewalt, becoming an arborist wasn’t something she expected. In fact, when she first began working in the field, she thought she’d only work on the business side of the industry.
“I am not really a science person, but I love the outdoors, walkable neighborhoods, and driving down a tree-lined street so I saw an opportunity to do something that was meaningful, fun, and challenging in arboriculture,” said Tadewaldt. “When I first got into the industry I never really planned on studying arboriculture. I thought I would just handle the business end of things and leave the arboriculture to the arborists. But I'm a super curious person and once I got into the industry I couldn't help myself.”
After college, Tadewaldt began working in public accounting which gave her the opportunity to work with a lot of different businesses. Eventually, she realized she wanted to be an entrepreneur and not the person who advises entrepreneurs. However, working with so many different businesses also showed her that female business owners were not very common.
“Only one of those businesses that I worked with while in public accounting was owned by a woman, but I never stopped to think about how rare we are (or were) until many years later,” she said. “I began doing some arborist work as a sort of a side-gig for a brief moment to feel it out, but quickly decided to make it my main-gig and I haven't looked back since.”
Since then, Tadewaldt went on to be a co-founder of Urban Forest Pro, a tree care company based in Portland, Oregon, U.S., and an ISA Certified Arborist®.
While working at Urban Forest Pro, Tadewaldt said she has had the opportunity to help many arborists build their own arboricultural careers.
“I do look back with fondness where some of the arborists I hired many years ago are today,” she said. “Such as where they were professionally and in their tradecraft when I hired them versus where they are today. When I look at their career trajectory and the value they're bringing our community now and what they have accomplished in their careers with my help, it gives me a sense of accomplishment past our brand and company and more into a community level.”
Working in a male-dominated field hasn’t been without its challenges, however, Tadewaldt said she’s had mentors to help her navigate the career field.
“I was a tomboy growing up and I naturally tend to enjoy male-dominated activities both at work and in my personal life so it is sort of how it’s always been for me, having a lot of guys around,” she said. “That is not to say it was easy, but what made it doable was that I had some female mentors along the way who also operated in male-dominated fields that were great role models and tough as nails who lead the way.”
Similarly to the role models in her life, Tadewaldt said she encourages other females to not only be role models themselves, but to keep pushing forward as well.
“I look forward to seeing the day when it's not a big deal,” she said. “If you’re a woman in this industry, you're a role model whether you know it or not. Last year we had our first female employee take the ISA Certified Arborists Exam and the very next week another female employee asked me for the study guide. I am sure she thought to herself, ‘if she can do it (her colleague) so can I!’ That makes me so happy! We currently have two female ISA arborists (myself included) and two more female arborists in the ISA certification pipeline, so in due time, we'll have four and I think that's wonderful.”
Although she tries to remain humble, what Tadewaldt is most proud of is the work she’s done in her local community.
“I am not really a prideful person, but I like driving down the street and seeing a tree I planted 20 years ago, which makes me proud,” she said. “Sometimes I will go out of my way by a few blocks just to take a look and see how a particular tree is doing. I also think we, as a company, have developed a good reputation in the local community not only from our customers, but from the many organizations we volunteer with. I am proud of that reputation, but at the same time I work every day to continue to be worthy of it.”
Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.