Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Who Run the World? Famous Female Foresters

March is Women’s History Month, so what better time to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women to forest-related fields.

Anyone who has ever used a circular saw has Tabitha Babbitt to thank. In a Massachusetts town dependent on the forestry industry, she often saw men wasting energy cutting logs on a pit saw. In 1810 she thought to attach a circular blade to her spinning wheel. The rest is history.

Forest Service employee Margaret March-Mount was better known as “Ambassador of the trees.” During her tenure at the Forest Service from 1913-1943, she worked tirelessly to encourage tree planting throughout the country. Her famous catch phrase? “Bombs explode, pines grow.”

When Margaret Stoughton Abell joined the Forest Service in 1930, she earned the distinction of the first women forester. She worked on nearly every project conducted at the Appalachian Forest Experiment Station and paved the way for future female foresters and scientists.

While Rachel Carson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1943, it wasn’t until she resigned in 1952 to pursue writing that she rocked the conservation world. Her bestselling book Silent Spring is widely credited with bringing the environmental movement into the mainstream.

In the 1970s, Wangari Maathai changed the world. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Maathai established a grassroots organization, the Green Belt Movement, to reforest land and empower women.

Green Party Presidential candidate, Minister of the Environment, United Nations’ Champions of the Earth, and the first rubber tapper ever elected to the federal senate – Brazilian Marina Silva has accomplished quite a lot. A native Amazonian, she remains one of the fiercest activists for environmental protection of the rainforest.

Not to mention our three tree-mendous International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists here at Casey Trees. Becky Schwartz, from our Tree Planting team, notes “Casey Trees expects a high level of professional development and education. I became a certified arborist to continue this precedent and increase my knowledge and expertise. I hope my work as the Casey Trees Community Tree Planting Manager and Arborist encourages women to join the field and supports those that are already doing great things.”

Jess Sanders, Director of Technical Services and Research, is also a certified arborist – in addition to having her Ph.D. in urban and community forestry. “My dedication to the field is what drove me to become a certified arborist,” Jess says, adding that “having the holistic background of research from my academic pursuits and as well as the practical knowledge from my certification has helped me tremendously.”

Maisie Hughes, Director of Design & Advocacy has “loved trees since I was a child. I would spend hours climbing trees or sitting under them trying to sketch them.” How did she land here? Maisie notes, “When I was in graduate school for landscape architecture, I was elated to find Casey Trees. I wanted be an arborist from the time I discovered arboriculture. It wasn’t a decision, it was a calling.”

We’re not only happy to highlight the crucial work our arborists are doing, but also excited to recognize and learn about the historical contributions of women in the field. Happy Women’s History Month!

Photo courtesy of the Forest Historical Society of a Ranger’s Clerk reading a precipitation gauge.

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