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Women in the Field of Natural Resources

The advent of the first female, major party presidential candidate comes at a time when women are still under represented in other traditionally male dominated professions. For example, careers in natural resources, from forest rangers to firefighters, have long been the province, mostly, of men.   As Robbie Harris tells us, this weekend, Virginia Tech is holding what may be the first ever conference for “Women in Natural Resources” to make sure people know it’s a field that’s open to all.  

Anne Zimmerman got her degree in forestry and wildlife at Virginia Tech in 1979. She started with U.S. Forest Service as an intern, and ultimately became a national director.  She says her classes were pretty much 50 -50 male/female, but it was a different story when she began her career.

“Once I got out in the working world, every job I had for a while, I was the first woman whatever - I was the first woman forester on this district and I was a biologist and after awhile it was getting kind of exhausting for me because for a lot of the folks I was working with it was really unique to have a woman professional.”

Zimmerman says even today, she’s been struck by how few women there are in hands on, out if the field type roles.

Ann Zimmerman

“You aren’t going to be able to have people at the top of the profession if you don’t bring them in at the entry level.”

That’s a big part of what this conference is about: to let people know that jobs in environmental resources are for women, minorities, anyone who has an interest in the outdoors, but who may not have seen themselves in the field  --- or out in the field.