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Kathy Holzer's Career As An Arborist Has Been An Upward Climb

When Kathy Holzer was a kid living on the outskirts of Chicago, she would climb her parents’ apple trees in their orchard. She was always up in the tree -- with her dog sleeping below.

“And they'd always know where I was because there was the dog so I must be in that tree,” Holzer said. “And I always broke out the dead branches that were in my way, because it always seemed -- intuitively -- that the tree didn’t need them.” 

My poor dad, Holtzer continued,  would see the piles of dead branches underneath the trees and wonder, 'Who's been doing this?'

“And so when they sent me to pruning class it was a no-brainer,” she said with a laugh.  “This is what I'm supposed to be doing. My last name in German apparently means woodcutter.”

Now 50, Holtzer was one of the first women in Seattle to become a certified arborist. And she’s leading more women to follow in her bootstraps with her business, Out on a Limb Tree Company.

As Seattle marks Arbor Day with the rest of the country, we bring you this profile of the profession and one pioneer in the field. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to