Madison: Women in Construction 2023: Wilkie
Wisconsin Eagle/10224128

~ On a cloudy, damp day on the east side of Madison, Wisconsin, Wilkie, a Landscape Maintenance Worker for the City of Madison Parks Division, is happily pruning away in the Goodman Pool parking lot medians. Wilkie is wearing a bright yellow shirt and is not bothered by the cold weather.

"There's no such thing as bad weather, there's just bad clothing, bad equipment," Wilkie said. "On a day like today, as long as you're moving, you're good."

Wilkie's day-to-day work depends on the season. In the wintertime they focus primarily on pruning and in the spring and fall they do all of their tree planting. In the summer they work mostly on beautification projects which involve renovating signature sign beds with native plants.

Wilkie has always been passionate about understanding how to nurture green spaces and species which started 13 years ago growing up in southeastern North Carolina. They earned degrees in geography and minored in geology at Appalachian State University in 2010 (year) and during one spring break they learned working outside building trails was what made them happiest.

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Wilkie said that when they were growing up it wasn't an option to work outside or go into trades or construction; it was college or nothing else. They ended up doing three terms of Americorps hiking trail building program before attending the University of Massachusetts to earn an associates in Arboriculture and Community Forest Management.

Since moving to Wisconsin Wilkie has noticed cultural norms for women in construction have improved but would like to see more progress industry wide.

"I'd love to see more women, queer folks, people who identify as female in those roles, people of color—just so everyone has a fair shake at getting a position," Wilkie said.

The City of Madison is highlighting Wilkie's work during National Women in Construction Week March 5-11 2023 and hopes that young people will find their own path to success sooner than later even if it's on a new type of trail.

Filed Under: Government, City

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