Winner of 6 Ontario Tree Climbing Championships (Women’s Division)
Competitor in 6 International Tree Climbing Championships
2002 Women’s International Tree Climbing Champion
Alumni of both Canadian and Australian Outward Bound Schools
Conducts tree pruning workshops at Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
Facilitator and instructor at 2011 Hong Kong Arbor Camp
About Wenda Li:
Much to my parents’ discontent, I did climb trees as a child. But my real passion for trees ignited when I attended an Outward Bound course in northern Ontario as a teenager. For a city girl, born and raised in Toronto, the thought of spending a month in the wilderness was going to be exhilarating and yet terrifying. Nevertheless the experience was life changing and opened my eyes to the magnificence of trees.
After I obtained my forestry degree, I began working for the City of Toronto in the early 1990s and eventually I became the City’s first female climbing arborist. My arboriculture career flourished when I moved into the private sector where I continued to evolve and progress as an arborist.
In 1993, I became the first woman to compete at the Ontario Tree Climbing Jamboree. Since then I have competed in over 15 tree climbing competitions and have represented Ontario in the women’s division at the International Tree Climbing Championships (ITCC) 6 times. In 2002, I won the Women’s International Tree Climbing Championship and held the world record for the fastest 40 foot footlock for a woman for two years. In 2007 I retired from competitive tree climbing but still remain active as a volunteer judge at both regional and international championships. The most important aspect of competing was the opportunity to meet fantastic arborists from all over the world.
Another passion I have is sharing knowledge and empowering women. I have had the opportunity to teach and assist at Humber College, to train with Arboriculture Canada Training and Education, and to conduct pruning seminars with Lee Valley Tools. I also enjoy promoting and advocating women in non-traditional occupations and have done so at many high schools and within women’s groups.
My most recent endeavor was to go to Hong Kong in 2011 to help train groups of government arborists and to experience arboriculture in Hong Kong. I have since returned to Hong Kong in 2015 to conduct more training with arborists. I have also been a guest speaker in Singapore at the National Botantical Gardens.
I am grateful to be in an industry that allows me to appreciate how remarkable trees are. Whether I am “wowed” in the presence of a majestic century old tree, or astonished by the a tree’s ability to produce compensatory growth around a wound, that sense of child-like wonderment that captured my spirit as a teenager still resonates within me today.