Forces of Nature for Nature

Meet some of the women who make it easier for us to connect to the land.

They are the ones who prune, slope, salvage, grub, burlap, plant, mulch, weed and, grade trails. The ones with forearms all scratched up from pulling blackberries. The ones who’ll lament how the sturdiest of work pants are too often designed for bodies without hips.

There they are, out in the meadow, on a river’s banks, in the urban forest battling Morning glory and Butterfly bush and color coding seedlings. When it comes to conservation work, theirs is the most physical. And we noticed some of those who are doing the hard stuff are women.

They are forces of nature for nature. Photo by Danny Ngan

Mary Sue Gee, 74

Landscape ecologist

“I’m so connected to the land, I have to keep it in good shape.”


Mariska Kecskes, 24

Stewardship associate, Forterra; Washington Conservation Corps

“Restoration work is great therapy. Nothing gets aggression out like swinging a pulaski (a tool for digging and chopping) around.”


Mariesha Riley-Washington, 19

GreenCorps graduate/Youth Program Lead, Seattle Goodwill

“It’s about seeing the results, seeing where you started and the impact you’ve made.”


Shawnteal Turner, 22

GreenCorps graduate/Youth Program Lead, Seattle Goodwill

“You take (English) ivy, you have a rope of it, you wrap it around you, you lean into it and then you pull. It’s like you’ve saved the tree. It’s like you’ve saved a life.”


Cari Krippner, 50

Forest steward, Everett’s Thornton A. Sullivan Park

“Pain is temporary. Pride is forever. I always say you can come back and say, ‘See this part right here? I planted this!’ I do this for the generations to come.”


Lisa Cieko, 34

Plant ecologist, Seattle Parks and Recreation

“I actually looked but I couldn’t find maternity work pants. I would so love a pair so the blackberries aren’t constantly stabbing me in the leg.”


Judy Blanco, 47

Cedar River Restoration Program manager, Forterra

“You get to think about your work in a deep-time scale. Fifty, 100 years. That’s pretty satisfying.”

  • Danny Ngan

    Danny Ngan is a photographer specializing in creative portraiture, events and roller derby.