Advice from Women In The Green Industry Award Winners

The 2024 winners of the Women In The Green Industry Award share their insights for other women in the industry, describe what it means to be a woman in the green industry and more.

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To learn from the best, Green Industry Pros asked the winners of this year's Women In The Green Industry Award about their advice for others in the industry, what they think the industry could use more of and more. 

Jennifer Lemcke, CEO Weed Man-Mosquito Hero

Green Industry Pros: What does it mean to be a woman in the green industry?

Lemcke: We probably look at things a little differently than men. So, it allows me to look at it from all angles. I always say my best course in management was raising three kids. It’s allowed me to come to the realization that not everybody learns the same, not everybody's mentored the same. It allows me to tackle my role with a lot of empathy. I feel that's something that women can really bring to every aspect of their role.

Green Industry Pros: What's your best advice for other women in the industry? 

Lemcke: You have mentors, and you have the opportunity to reach out to mentors. Don’t go it alone. I believe that you need to use your network to figure out the issues, and there's no issue that can't be resolved.

Lemcke: I will caution that women still want to earn their spot at the table. You don’t want it to be given to you because you’re a woman because that would be a step backward for us. That’s an important lesson for anyone, not just women, but especially for young people starting in any career: You’ve got to earn it. Don’t expect it.

Nicolette McCaryowner, Seattle Sustainable Landscapes

Green Industry Pros: What's your advice for other women in the industry?

McCary: Be confident in who you are and what you want. Know that you know what you’re doing, take that expertise and run with it. If there is someone who doesn’t appreciate that about you or who treats you improperly, don’t worry about it and move on.

Green Industry Pros: What could the industry use more of?

McCary: The industry could use more people who are willing to do the right thing for both the client and the environment, rather than just the most profitable thing. There are many landscapers who are willing to do low quality work, and often that’s not the best thing for longevity of the work or the nearby ecosystem. Being able to say no to clients that are looking for that cheap, low quality work will raise everyone in the industry to do closer to the right thing.

Deborah Munoz-Chacon, president and owner, Sonoran Oasis Landscaping

Green Industry Pros: What do you like to do in your free time?

Munoz-Chacon: Outside of work, it's been a while since I've done much other than study and do work for my MBA and actually work in the business, but my husband and I are hoping to get out and do a little bit more traveling. I have five grandchildren and love to do things with our grandchildren as well. I also like to hike; it's beautiful in Arizona.

Green Industry Pros: What could the industry use more of?

Munoz-Chacon: We could use more education on the correct way to do things. With drought conditions that we see in Arizona and climate change as a whole, people are becoming more aware of how to do things properly, but it’s taking time. We have to use proper plant material, do maintenance properly and irrigation systems that save water so we’re giving our clients and their landscapes the best chance to be successful.

Munoz-Chacon: We need to have more professionalism, so we can bring up the industry as a whole.

Cindy Schwab, operations talent manager, The Davey Tree Expert Co.

Green Industry Pros: What's your advice for other women in the green industry? 

Schwab: Network, connect and build valuable relationships to help you during challenging times. Seek mentorship to help navigate your career in the green industry. Continue to learn and grow and to remain engaged in the industry. Be a fierce advocate for diversity to help create a more diverse and inclusive environment. Always lead by example; even if you're not in a leadership position, your actions can inspire and show that individuals from unrecognized groups are integral to the industry’s success.

Schwab: I also think it's important to find a balance between work and life, prioritize your well-being and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Schwab: Be confident, believe in yourself, your skills and the value that you bring to the green industry. Remember that your contributions and your voice are vital to the growth and sustainability of the green industry.