Contractor Profile: Audrey Sellepack, Davey Tree Expert Co.

Audrey Sellepack, pesticide compliance specialist, Davey Tree Expert Co., delves into what it means to be a woman in the green industry, what the industry could use more of, her future goals and much more.

Audrey Sellepack participates in the Women’s+ event at Arborwear in October 2023.
Audrey Sellepack participates in the Women’s+ event at Arborwear in October 2023.
Davey Tree Expert Co.

Audrey Sellepack, Pesticide Compliance Specialist, Davey Institute

Green Industry Pros: How did you get into the green industry?

Audrey Sellepack: I went to The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry up in Syracuse, N.Y., where I was getting bachelor's degree in environmental biology, but I minored in marine science and was very gung-ho about becoming a marine biologist. I become burned out with academia, and with Syracuse being landlocked, there weren’t many marine biology jobs. So, I decided to go the tree route instead, segueing into plant health care where I thought I could make a huge difference. I applied for a job at Davey tree and got a position as a plant heath care technician in the Rochester residential office. I was doing that for three years and really enjoyed it and then wanted to look for something more on the support side. It’s been exciting getting to help people with pesticide regulations and use my experience as a plant health care tech to be able to relate to what they’re doing out there and on an operations level.

Green Industry Pros: What have been some of the highlights of your career?

Sellepack: What’s really cool about my new role at The Davey Institute is that I was given a lot of flexibility. I wanted to use that to my advantage to support women in the green industry, so I created the Davey Women’s+ Group. It’s been a great way for all of the women at Davey tree to be able to connect and share stories. This group has made me get to know a lot of awesome people who work for Davey across the country.

Green Industry Pros: What have been some of the challenges?

Sellepack: Being a woman in the green industry can be a challenge. Sometimes, you feel like the black sheep. I was the only woman who was working in the field at my office when I started. That was a struggle trying to find out where my support is, but I managed to make it work really well. I had a counterpart plant health care technician who was really great. He stepped in and helped me with whatever I needed. I had someone to lean on, even if there weren’t other women in my office who were doing my job. Now, I’ve seen so much change in the six years that I’ve been with Davey. There are so many more women working at the field level now than there used to be.

Green Industry Pros: What’s your advice for other women who want to get started in the industry?

Sellepack: Find your support network. Even if they’re not women, finding people who support you is great. Finding your allies is really what needs to happen. I also encourage people to constantly be curious and keep learning. I try to keep building up my credentials and stay educated. That’s helped me grow in this industry as well.

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

Sellepack: It would be great to see more communication and interaction across companies. At Davey, we definitely do a lot of things internally, but I think we could collaborate more. I think there's plenty of work for everybody to go around. Being able to open lines of communication and sharing ideas with each other will really help us all be better.

Green Industry Pros: What’re your goals moving forward?

Sellepack: I really like the sustainability field. I want to grow more in a role where I’m focusing on improving the sustainability of a company, finding ways where we can move into the future in a positive way and reduce emissions, but then also on the social side, create a positive environment for everyone to work.

Green Industry Pros: What do you like to do outside of work?

Sellepack: I like spending a lot of time outside. I love to hike. I like checking out trees and diagnosing them. I feel like such a tree nerd. I also love camping. I’ve got a dog and live with my fiancé, and we enjoy going outside and taking (the dog) places, too. We participate in the western New York hiking challenge every year. It’s a list of 30 different hikes, and if you complete 20 of them, you get a sticker and a patch, and all of the money goes toward various local nonprofits dedicated to supporting the natural world, including the Buffalo Audubon Society. It’s a fun way to complete a bunch of trails and give back to the community.