Finding your field: Q&A with sawyer Kelly Rodgers
By Maria Church
Kelly Rodgers is a sawyer and social media communicator for Norwood Sawmills. She found her passion working with portable sawmills, and, in her current role, helping others discover the joy in turning fallen trees into wood products.
CFI: What led you to a career in the forest industry and your current role with Norwood Sawmills?
What inspired me to pursue a career in the forest industry and ultimately led me to my current role with Norwood Sawmills was my love for the beauty and potential of every fallen tree. My journey began on a golf course, where I was struck by the sight of all the majestic trees that would inevitably be lost. That’s when I realized that I wanted to play a role in giving these trees a new life. So, I bought my first portable sawmill and started my adventure in the forest industry.
As I continued to work with my sawmill, I discovered the immense joy that came with creating something new and valuable from what had been discarded. That’s when I knew that I had found my calling in life. When I joined the Norwood family as a sawyer, I was thrilled to be a part of a team that shared my passion for transforming fallen trees into beautiful, useful lumber.
Now, in my current role at Norwood Sawmills, I get to help others embark on their own sawmilling journey. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to guide new family members in selecting the perfect sawmill that will grow with their cutting needs, and to watch them discover the same joy and satisfaction that I did when I first started out.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love every day, and I am excited to continue this journey in the forest industry with Norwood Sawmills
CFI: What is involved in your role? Highlights?
As a member of the team, my primary focus is on engaging with sawyers on our social platforms. I’m constantly inspired by the passion and excitement that our community brings to the table, especially as they eagerly anticipate the assembly and operation of their very first sawmill.
What I love most about my role is being able to witness the transformative power of our sawmills firsthand. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a tree that might have otherwise gone to waste become a cherished part of someone’s home, or even a brand-new home altogether. Being able to share in the joy and excitement of our customers as they bring their projects to life is truly inspirational.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Norwood community, and to have the opportunity to help others discover the same sense of fulfillment and purpose that I have found in the forest industry.
CFI: Do you find there are certain challenges or hurdles for women to advance in the sector? Have you faced any of these situations?
Absolutely, I believe that there are still challenges and hurdles for women looking to advance in the forest industry and other male-dominated sectors. As a woman who has worked outside for years and operated big equipment, I have personally experienced some of these challenges.
One of the biggest obstacles that I have encountered is the perception that these industries are only for men. We need to change this perception and encourage more women to join us. We can help the next generation of women to overcome these hurdles by setting an example and encouraging them to pursue their passions, regardless of gender.
I’m proud to be a part of an industry that is evolving to include more women every day. We have strong women who are making a difference and leading the way in every aspect of the forest industry. Whether you’re a heavy equipment operator or a woodworker, your skills and contributions are what matter most.
CFI: What do you think the industry should do or change to attract and support women?
I think it’s important for the industry to make a concerted effort to attract and support women. There are many things we can do to make this happen. One of the biggest changes that we can make is to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for women.
There have been some great strides in recent years, like the development of clothing designed specifically for women. This is a huge step forward in making women feel more comfortable in the field.
Ultimately, we need to continue to challenge the status quo and create a more inclusive and diverse industry for all. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Women are like tea. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” Let’s show the industry what we are made of and continue to push for change.
CFI: What advice do you have for women starting out in forestry?
My first piece of advice is to be confident and believe in yourself. You are just as capable as anyone else in this field, and you bring a unique perspective and set of skills that can help to make this industry better. So don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this, because you absolutely can!
Finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. This is a field that requires innovation and creativity, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something new. Whether it’s developing a new technique for cutting lumber or finding a better way to manage a forest, you have the power to make a real impact in this industry.
In short, my advice is to be confident, never stop pushing yourself to learn and grow. With your passion and dedication, you have the power to change this industry for the better. So go out there and show the world what you’re made of!
I truly believe that forestry is a field where women can thrive, and I hope that I’ve been able to convey some of that enthusiasm to you today. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the industry for years, I wish you all the best in your journey.
This article is part of CFI, Pulp & Paper Canada and Canadian Biomass’ Women in Forestry series, an annual celebration of women in the industry. Find more content here and follow us on social media with the hashtag: #WomeninForestry.
Remember to join us for the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit on Mar. 7 at 11 am ET/8 am PT! It’s FREE to register. Sign up now!
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