14 Jun 2016 | Executive Director's Outlook, Spring 2016: Buckle up for an ‘E’ ticket experience

Outlook:  Spring 2016 – Buckle up for an ‘E’ ticket experience  
When I was just a kid, a trip to Disneyland was a real treat. You would think that kids who grew up in Orange County, would have spent nearly every weekend there, but for some reason we didn’t. Even then, it was a little out of reach for most families, so occasional visits were quite special. Back then park visitors purchased ticket books containing an assortment of tickets of varying levels, allowing admittance to specific rides or attractions. The most popular rides, as you would expect, required the highest level ticket. There were lots of tickets for the less adventurous rides, but only one or two for the really good ones, such as ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ or The ‘Matterhorn’. My siblings wrangled over the few coveted ‘E’ tickets we got when visiting the park, but being the youngest, I seldom got my hands on one. Anyone of my generation that’s been to Disneyland, knows that it was the ‘E’ ticket that provided admission to the best adventures and experiences. The term ‘E-ticket’ has since become part of the American lexicon. Long after the summer was over, I could still open the kitchen drawer and find partially-used ticket books with only the A and B tickets still remaining. I remember thinking what a red-letter day it would be when I was old enough for the ‘E’ ticket rides. 
I’m excited to invite you all to WCISA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim this spring. The last time WCISA was there was 1997, when my brother Pat Mahoney was Chapter President, and I was his Conference Chair. A lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same and that is the hard work of planning, organizing, and huge personal commitment by the conference committee, staff, and the many volunteers. Together, they make the experience for attendees the very best it can be ? a true ‘E’ ticket!
Let’s start with the conference venue. Disneyland Hotel and the surrounding area has been the backdrop for many hours of entertainment for me since I was a child. We would all pile in the neighbor’s car and head to the hotel to take in the ‘Dancing Waters’ show (now the meadow where our lunch will take place). For an eight-year-old, it was spectacular. With the addition of California Adventure and Downtown Disney, the fun (and magic) just continues to grow. I have to admit, I haven’t stayed at the hotel since my family came west from Texas in 1969, but on my return there last fall, I found the rooms to be well-appointed and yet still have the charm and spirit of Disney. 
The conference will kick-off with the 9th Britton Fund Ride. More than 20 cyclists will pedal their way around Orange County, not just for the fun of it, but to spread the word about the importance of tree research to the local community, and to raise funds to continue that research into the future. Our golfers will be focused on global research as they hit the links in the name of The TREE Fund. Anaheim Hills Golf Course, known as ‘The Hills’, touts some of the most spectacular views in the county. The tree-lined course is a great track for both experienced and novice golfers. Both events are the perfect beginning to a magical week. 
This year’s conference program is second to none.  I know I say that every year, but I just can’t help bragging about how great the speakers and topics are. Once again, we’ve recruited a slate of amazing speakers, many of whom are industry leaders and recognized experts in their respective fields. Magic in our Urban Forests is the prevailing theme throughout the three-day conference. Our keynote speaker, Paul Johnson from the Texas Forest Service, will set the stage, so to speak, for the event. You can listen to one of Paul’s podcasts – ‘Trees are Key’, by connecting to it from Texas Forest Service website (http://tfsweb.tamu.edu/podcasts/). The concurrent tracks on Wednesday are titled after different aspects of Disney’s theme park. From example, ‘Main Street’ explores urban forestry issues and tree risk. ‘Tommorowland’ focuses on communications and innovations, and the ‘Electrical Parade’, is devoted to current issues in utility arboriculture. Whatever the track, there is something magical in store for everyone. The program committee has also planned a commercial track titled ‘Adventureland’, which weaves together practical information and demonstrations of new technology. This interactive schedule covers safety, rigging, working with wildlife, pruning, and rescue. It’s sure to be a popular breakout.

President Rhonda Wood has arranged for many special treats. As Disneyland Resort’s resident urban forester, Rhonda has added her own touches to the conference. She has planned and arranged two early-morning ‘behind the scenes’ walks around the park grounds, showcasing the work that she and her team have accomplished. Most of their work is done at night, using bicycles and head lamps to get around. It’s especially gratifying for me to see firsthand what she has done with the park, because my husband Al was involved in planting many of the trees in the development of Disney’s California Adventure and the resort area. As tree coordinator for the City of Anaheim, this was his last project before he retired in 2000. It’s great to see that work carried on.   
The Spouse/Guest program sounds like a kick. The group will take advantage of being at Disneyland’s front door when they take a walk in Walt’s shoes, followed by a visit to the park. And, of course, there will be the usual pampering and play. Christi Ruiz has a great program in the works including a full-day at Disneyland, shopping excursions, yoga, and more. 
We will wrap up the conference with a tour of the exceptional trees of Anaheim led by Donald Hodel. This ticketed event will take attendees on a tour to view some remarkable trees that grace Anaheim’s street and parks. We will wind our way through the city and enjoy a trip to the “Lost World,” a private palm garden at the home of Pat and Jolynn Mahoney. 

Awards Chair, Robert Phillips will be recognizing another worthy group of award winners on Tuesday morning. It’s amazing to see such valuable work happening within the chapter. Our awards program is a means to recognize individuals for their outstanding service, research, or noteworthy accomplishments, and various organizations for their community work, environmental projects, or educational outreach. It is a good way to celebrate the people or their work, and perhaps inspire others to follow suit.  
The Western Chapter’s annual conference has a reputation for excellence and provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn the latest in aboricultural research and technological advancement. Not only are we fortunate to have many volunteers and a great conference committee, but also for the support and generosity of our sponsors and exhibitors. They really make the magic happen.
 The entire week of the conference will be a demonstration of the incredible volunteer spirit we have in the Western Chapter. I hope to see you in Anaheim.
Rose Epperson


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