Arborist for Etter Tree Care
Not many San Antonians can say that they are “a steward of the earth,” but Elysia Etter, a certified arborist at Etter Tree Care Service, carries that title proudly alongside her family of entrepreneurs. “Every day I help educate people regarding their trees,” she says. “By educating people, it helps not only the trees themselves, but the environment as well.”
Having been raised in a household of parents/stepparents who were not only successful business leaders and hard workers but also devoted Christians, Etter was driven by those same aspirations to lead a faith-based life and follow the hallmarks of business and values her family instilled in her.
Etter’s mother, Connie, and father, Edward, divorced when she was young and remarried when she was 8 years old. “I am blessed to say that I have maintained good relations throughout the years,” says Etter. “I gained two half-sisters, Rebecca and Emily, from my father and stepmother.” Etter attended Castle Hills First Baptist School from grade school through high school. She moved to Fort Worth after graduation to attend the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. After graduating with her BA in marketing in 2006, she returned to San Antonio to start her career with the family business and pursue her love of the outdoors.
“When I first started working for my dad fresh out of college, with a newly minted diploma under my belt, my background was in business, so I had to learn about tree biology, identification, how to properly prune and maintain trees, etc,” says Etter. “Since my degree was not in a related field, I had to be in the field for a few years before I could be eligible to take the certified arborist exam.” Regardless of her obstacles, in 2011 Etter officially became a certified arborist. It was through her love for trees, plants and animals and spending a majority of her time outdoors that the family business became more than just a job to Etter, but a passion. Her affection for helping people with their trees and landscaping became enticing and holds true to the values and ethics of her family’s locally owned and operated business.
A decade later, Etter has continuously served San Antonio and its surrounding areas as an arborist who loves meeting with clients and making recommendations on the needs of their trees. “I love seeing the end product,” she explains. “I love that I get to look at awesome trees and landscapes every day. Once the work is done, I love that we make the trees healthier, safer and more beautiful.”
When Etter isn’t sprucing up San Antonio’s lush greenery, she can be found alongside her husband, Justin Hale, whom she married in April 2014. Etter is an avid volunteer for the International Society of Arboriculture Texas Tree Climbing Competition, and you can find her (more than likely) at this year’s competition hosted at San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park.
The last Friday in April is celebrated as National Arbor Day. In honor of all things “arbor,” SAN ANTONIO WOMAN asked Etter what she thinks is to come for San Antonio’s mature trees. “I see a lot of new construction, and with construction some trees are preserved, and many are planted due to city regulations,” says Etter. “Oak wilt and drought have and are taking a heavy toll on the trees. Lastly, homeowners are building new homes or making additions to their current homes and need expert advice on how to preserve and work around their existing trees.”
Why she is a role model: With the support of her family of entrepreneurs and the faith they instilled in her at an early age to build a relationship with the Lord, Elysia Etter continued on her path by working hard, honestly and ethically in all of her endeavors. After a decade of working as a certified arborist for her family’s business, Etter Tree Care, Elysia is impacting the community with her dedication, passion and integrity — one tree and one person at a time.
Her role models: “My parents! My mom, dad, stepdad and stepmom are all Christians, and since I was a little girl have stressed the importance of having a personal relationship with the Lord and walking in His ways. They also taught me to respect others and myself, to be timely, honest and to live with integrity.”
Words or phrases she lives by: “One who looks to be satisfied apart from God will live with futility regardless of his accumulations.”
“Don’t let negative thoughts overtake you. Remember that every challenge is a new opportunity to improve.”
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Last book read or favorite book: “I love to read. So that’s a tough question, but if I had to guess my favorite book, it would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.”
Favorite band: “I guess the best way to answer that question is it depends on what I’m doing. If I’m driving, I usually prefer to listen to something upbeat like the Rolling Stones or some oldies. If I’m cooking, I love to listen to French music or Frank Sinatra. I’m also a big fan of classical music, like Beethoven, Bach and Rachmaninoff, and I’m a fan of country music too.”
Favorite movie: “I love the classics — Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne and James Bond. Narrowing it down to my favorite would have to be Lonesome Dove or The Man From Snowy River.”
Where she grew up: “I was born and raised in San Antonio.”
Most memorable moment as a youth: “The day I got my own horse! I started riding horses when I was 8 years old and always wanted a horse of my own. My parents bought me a beautiful thoroughbred gelding named Marcus. He was the most amazing horse, and I loved him very, very much. He was a joy to ride and had the sweetest and most loving temperament. Absolutely a gorgeous animal!”
Favorite pastime in San Antonio: “I love to go for a walk or ride my bike at the park or gardening.”
Describe a personal goal: “I would love to write a book and have it published.”
Describe a professional goal: “Someday I hope to carry on my dad’s company, Etter Tree Care. He started the company in 1976 and after 40 years of hard work, he now employs 13 individuals and serves San Antonio and the surrounding area.”
By Kristin Mears
Photography by ELIZABETH WARBURTON