Ladies of LandCare: Zoe Jacobson
Check in with Zoe Jacobson, Account Manager in Pasadena.
How did you get your start in the green industry?
My dad is a third-generation tree service owner and arborist in Monterey, California. I grew up riding along with him in his truck listening to his stories about the trees around us, his lectures about the natural world, and his interactions with his crews and customers. I loved being outside, climbing trees, and picking bouquets of flowers, but never thought that I would follow in my dad’s footsteps professionally. I earned my bachelor’s degree in community studies and intended to build my career around utilizing multimedia tools for social change. In addition to working as an administrator for a small multimedia non-profit in Berkeley, California, and a few other small businesses, one of my jobs after college was managing a coffee shop. A customer there asked me one day if I knew any young people who might be interested in gardening alongside her in her small landscape maintenance business, and I enthusiastically signed myself up. Working with her, I fell in love with landscapes and developed some horticultural skills along the way. Nearly ten years and a few landscaping companies later, I am very pleased to be growing my career as part of the LandCare team.
What, in your opinion, are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is being part of a successful team. Nothing beats the feeling of working together to identify a need, brainstorm solutions, and execute the plan, whether that collaboration happens with clients or with our team internally. Plus, we get to do it all outside working with plants! My biggest challenge professionally is that the only language I speak is English. Given that communication is such a key element of teamwork, it can be challenging to work as a team when there is a language barrier between the players. I rely on the help of my multilingual colleagues to bridge communication gaps, and I’m very grateful to work with people who are patient with my limitations.
Do you have any advice for women who are currently looking for opportunities in the industry?
My advice for women looking for opportunities in the landscape industry is to get out in the field as much as they possibly can. The field offers a wealth of information and opportunity. I have learned more out in the field working with crews, managers, clients, and vendors than I have learned in any classroom, and getting connected with other professionals in the field has significantly broadened my horizons.
Who is your role model and why?
My current role model is Robin Wall Kimmerer. She is a plant ecologist, an activist, and an excellent writer. Her work combines scientific thinking with indigenous knowledge and focuses on sustainability. Living in the suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, sometimes it can be hard to feel connected to the natural world. Reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s writing recently reminded me of the vital mutual relationship between humans and nature – we depend on natural resources to survive, but nature also needs us as stewards and advocates to keep its systems intact – and she models a life motivated and informed by her awareness of her role in that relationship. As a landscape professional in such a developed location, I strive to be someone who can help the people around me see the beauty of the world and appreciate the role we play in caring for it.