Women in Construction 2024: Keira Miller 


If you’ve ever come across the invasive species Buckthorn, you know it’s prickly and not good for the environment. However, you also know it can be handled with the right equipment, and if you remove it, the greenery thrives once it’s gone.  

For City of Madison Parks Division Parks Maintenance Worker Keira Miller, dealing with Buckthorn physically at parks across the City is one of many things she does day to day.  

“For most of my days—depends on if its summer or winter. In the winter, I’m cutting down invasive trees and dead trees a lot, taking care of snow and ice,” Miller said. “In the summer, it’s a lot of weed whacking, tree trimming, and mowing of lawns and taking care of the parks. If there’s a bench broken, we fix it.” 

Growing up, Miller spend a lot of time outside, not much different than now, and also in Madison parks like Hoyt and Garner, since she grew up in Fitchburg in the country. 

“I had a yard the size of a football field, so I spent a lot of time outside,” Miller said. “I just grew up with brothers running around outside with what my brothers did. I never had someone say you’re a woman you have to put on makeup and blah, blah, blah.”   

Miller went to college at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she said she didn’t know what she wanted to study, until a single credit class she needed to graduate helped lead her to her passion today. 

“They happened to have a tree cares techniques class – which was teaching you how to climb trees, and I had been climbing trees since I was five!” Miller said. “I was like oh my gosh, you can get a job climbing trees? That’s great I’ll do that!” 

While Keira loved being outside, she noticed she was one of a few women who she would work with in the field in her professional career as an arborist.  

“To graduate college, you have to take a forestry test, there were 100 people taking the test, and I was one of two women,” Miller said. “It was me and one other woman.” 

She then ran into few women when attending forestry conventions, but something started to change.  

“I would go to forestry conventions, and there would no women. I would be the only one there. They thought I was someone who worked at the booth, they didn’t think I was an arborist,” Miller said. “However, a few years ago, I went to another convention, and I started seeing women showing up, and they started coming!” 

That’s when Miller realized it’s important to make connections with other women in the field, in addition to finding a good mentor or kind people who make space for others.  

“It took me a while to find my space,” Miller said. “Find yourself a mentor. In my experience, there’s always a couple of kind people, even if there are a few mean grouches, there are always a few people who are willing to take you under their wing.”  

Keira Miller City of Madison Parks Division

Miller said mentorship and surrounding yourself with kind people are crucial tools to success in the construction industry, just like making sure you have the correct tools to deal with invasive species like Buckthorn. With the correct equipment and approach, there’s nothing you can’t handle. And you may even help others grow too.  

“One year I volunteered with trucks and treasures, I had a number of parents come up, and say thank you for being here, I’m so happy my daughter can see you here,” Miller said. “The more women we get out here, the more women know it’s OK you can do this job.” 

The City of Madison is highlighting the work of five women during National

 Women in Construction Week March 3-9, 2024

Women in Construction Week Banner 2024
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