Alumni Spotlight: Emily Ball

Emily Ball (’02) knows that a career is often like a winding path, not a straight road. She also knows the value in seeking jobs that can give her transferable skills and that can serve her in any position. Emily now works as a forester for the City of Lakeville, a job that was preceded by a host of diverse experiences. Like many students in our programs, she “found” urban forestry in an introductory class in which she heard Professor Gary Johnson speak. After that, she knew urban forestry was right for her. “It was the perfect fit for my restless mind because you have to learn about so many diverse disciplines from soil science to tree biology, then apply that knowledge by planting or pruning. I also liked the idea of working with people and the educational aspect including writing and speaking.”

Emily Ball

As an undergraduate, she had internships teaching children about water quality and fishing, working as a tree inspector and arborist assistant, and with Gary Johnson in U of M Extension. After graduation, she sought out ways to experience new cultures and work environments, like tending plants at an 18th century landscape garden in the English countryside and working at a coffee shop, managing people. It was this management experience that helped earn her a job as Assistant Forester for the City of Minnetonka. After less than two years, the city forester resigned and she was promoted to the position of head forester, where she worked for nearly 13 years. She now works as City Forester for the City of Lakeville. “This is an exciting position that involves building the program from the bottom up in a rapidly developing community, and one that affords me more time to actually take my kids out to the park on some of our most beautiful Minnesota days.” Does it sound like Emily likes her job? Here is her advice to future urban foresters, “Figure out what unique skill set you can offer a community and hone that skill. Basically try to follow your passion, get experience and don’t stop learning!”