The Wheeler Family - Heather with Justin and Gilia at age 1. Photo by Serravision Photography

The Wheeler Family - Heather with Justin and Gilia at age 1. Photo by Serravision Photography

 
 

My passion for natural resource conservation started with radical environmental activism during adolescence. At that time, nonviolent “direct action” felt like an effective strategy to defend our regional forests against logging. During my wild and free teen years, I would spend months camped high up in the old growth canopies during tree sitting protests, and I truly felt like I was living “on the front lines” of ecological advocacy.

Eventually I realized the campaigns I was so devoted to often involved questionable—even violent—behavior, that resulted in very tragic events on a few occasions. I felt there had to be a better way to play an active role in defending the natural resources I cherish so deeply. After 15 years of learning and exploring I now feel like I’ve found a genuine possibility of contributing to the preservation of our natural treasures here in Oregon.

Moving past the civil disobedience approach of my youth has led me to different forms of “direct action” that are better aligned with my values. Instead of protesting against the government agencies that manage our regional forests, I’ve enjoyed working with Oregon Department of Forestry and US Forest Service, through internships and professional partnerships. Being active in the community to educate citizens and children about the benefits of trees and how to care for our forests has felt like a much more effective approach to protecting the future of our natural resources.

I first set out on my path of ecological advocacy by building on my tree climbing skills with arboriculture classes at Clackamas Community College, while working for a small gardening company. Curiosity led me to take other classes in environmental science, ecology, botany and lots of classes in Horticulture, which became my major. It didn’t take long for me to learn that climbing trees with chainsaws was not a good fit, so that idea was quickly bypassed. My focus turned to landscape design. I earned an Associate degree from Clackamas CC, and arborist certification through the International Society of Arboriculture.

After graduating, I started my own business offering garden maintenance. This lasted a few years, until I decided to go back to school and advance my degree to a Bachelor of Science at OSU, with an option in Ecological Landscapes and Urban Forestry.

Over the course of my academic journey, I continued working at gardening jobs, at garden centers, and even a short period of co-owning a small tree care business. None of these jobs felt like my true “calling,” and I longed to find rewarding work with meaning. After doing some deep soul searching, I decided to start my own business, again, to pick up where I left off and aim to reach greater heights. With the help of the small business resources at Mercy Corps NW, I obtained my landscape contractor license, then became bonded and insured. Piece by piece, I built my business and gained momentum.

Land stewardship is by far the most meaningful work I’ve ever done, and I want to share the importance of it and how others may share this rewarding experience.  I invite you to follow along with this story and learn how you, too, can become a steward of the land.

Credentials

 
 

International Society of Arboriculture 
Certified Arborist ® PN-6483A • Verify
ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified

ISA Certified Arborist ® PN-6483A

Landscape Contractor  
OLCB License #9280  •  Bonded and insured • Verify

 
 

Backyard Habitat Professional
Bloom with Nature is a program-approved company that understands backyard habitat certification criteria and can be a helpful resource in transforming your property, or in working toward the next level of certification.

 
 

Soil Steward
Earthfort technology provides the tools to manage soil health. Heather has completed the Soil Stewardship curriculum, and works closely with the lab to develop detailed plans for revitalizing the Soil FoodWeb at project sites.

 

Education
• Oregon State University, Bachelor of Science. Horticulture: Ecological Landscapes and Urban Forestry.
• Clackamas Community College, Associate of Science. Horticulture.

 

Professional Memberships
• International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and Pacific Northwest Chapter (PNW-ISA)
• Association of Northwest Landscape Designers (ANLD)
• Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO)
• Home Orchard Society
• Audubon Society of Portland
• A founding member of Albina Neighborhood Tree Team (ANTT)