SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Making history with every tree she trims, a woman in Springfield will forever be remembered in her industry.
Amanda Pratt is the first woman to earn journeyman status from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 53.
Before this, the 32-year-old spent her entire career searching for her passion. She went from working for Route 66 Auction to Mitchem Tire & Wheel and, finally, an all-woman framing contractor.
“I’ve always kind of liked out of the ordinary jobs for women,” Pratt said.
In 2019, Pratt joined the Shade Tree Service Company, a contractor for Springfield City Utilities (CU).
“I had never even used a chainsaw when I first started working here,” Pratt said. “I’d see these guys climb these huge trees and take out just huge leaves and rope things down over houses. I didn’t think I would be able to have the muscle power or the brainpower for that matter to do that. There wasn’t any women that I could look to here locally for help and guidance. There were some things I have to go about a bit differently than what a man can. That was probably one of my biggest struggles.”
But, two years later, she received the highest level of training a trimmer can get.
“Journeyman status means that I’m proficient at my job,” Pratt said. “That I should be able to do everything that a foreman can do. I continue to surprise myself. The whole 90 percent of it was just believing in myself. I just didn’t really think that I could do it. I mean, all up until the point where I’d actually be doing this. ‘Oh my gosh, I am doing it. I can! I worked really hard and did a whole bunch of things I never thought I’d be able to.”
CU’s Scott Gunzenhauser says Pratt always had the potential to be a great worker.
“I’ve seen her over the years working some horrendous conditions with rain and cutting down fence rose and doing all kinds of things that you normally don’t see,” Gunzenhauser said. “She’s really quite a worker.”
Gunzenhauser says what makes her a unique employee is her enthusiasm.
“She has climbed up through the ranks and done a great job,” Gunzenhauser said. “We’ve had other females here that drag brush and do other things and chip brush for us, and they’ve done a fantastic job as well. But she’s the first one. I truly think she loves the job. This job was made for her, and once she started doing it, she realized, ‘this is my thing.’ She’s good at it, she likes it, and she loves doing tree work. She’s a great person to have employed by City Utilities. Shade Tree Service Company does a great job for us, and Pratt is one of the reasons they do.”
Pratt says she’ll use her historic accomplishment to motivate her female coworkers.
“Try to set as best of an example as I can because I know that there are people looking up to me,” Pratt said. “When I do my job, I definitely want to make sure that I’m good at it and I’m working safely. I can’t wait to see the other women that are in this job field come up and do the same thing. They’re getting great.”
The journeyman says at some point she wants to become a foreman.
“I’m not stepping into that position until I know that I can do this to the absolute best of my ability,” Pratt said. “This [job] gets in your blood. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.”