Women, Chainsaws, and Fire
Sometimes conservation work means using chainsaws and fire, and landowners want to hire ecological restorationists to do that work. Looking around, we didn’t find a single woman who worked as an ecological restorationist. So we decided to train them ourselves! Through support from the Iowa Women’s Foundation we are training a cadre of women to become entrepreneurs in ecological restoration. Here is one of our mentees:
My name is Sarah Nizzi and I am 25 years old. I am originally from Waukee, Iowa. I graduated from Adel-De Soto-Minburn high school and went to Des Moines Area Community College for two years to get my Associate of Arts before transferring to Drake University to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science. I first became interested in our natural world because my dad was an avid outdoorsman. He was a Boy Scouts leader for many years and loved to backpack, camp, hike, canoe, and hunt. He introduced me to the outside world at a young age and I was immediately hooked. When I was younger our family owned 42 acres of pasture and woodlands. After my great-aunt passed away the land was sold and a few years later was developed into residential housing. Waukee has changed dramatically throughout my lifetime. The urban sprawl has been extreme in the last ten to fifteen years. Waukee’s growth and constant need for more development and my love for the outdoors inspired me to pursue a degree in Environmental Science.
Today, I am employed by Pheasant’s Forever as a prairie specialist working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at the Prairie Resource Center. I have been in this position for almost a year and have really enjoyed it. I was first introduced to the idea of providing private landowners with ecological advice and labor through one of my college professors, Danielle Wirth. An ecological restoration business run by women has been an idea of hers for some time now. I was chosen to be one of four eco-entrepreneur “mentees” last year and it has been a great experience. I have been given advice on finances, marketing, insurance, customer service, accounting, and networking; all of which has been beneficial to my business progress. I have provided consultations, botanical inventories, and natural resource management services for a few local small scale clients and I am excited to see what the future holds for me and the other mentees.