Executive Director's Outlook - Fall 2017

By Rose Epperson on Sunday, October 1, 2017

WCISA, It's more than just membership

I've just returned from the ISA annual conference in Washington DC. It was wonderful to see chapter members in the program lineup once again this year. I was disappointed that my schedule didn’t allow me to be at the ITCC but I’m delighted that our climbers Karissa Melcher and Jacob Claassen did so well. Jacob had an amazing preliminary round, taking the top spot, and Karissa had a great day with other chapter champions from around the world. We had an impressive turnout of chapter volunteers supporting the event despite rain. Many thanks to Robert Bennett, Felipe Bribiescas, Noe Cardenas, Arturo Corona, John Gauthier, Fredy Luna, Andrew Misch, Miguel Morales, Martin Morales, William Owen, and Philip Ruiz. I’ve watched Jacob progress as a competitive climber over the years, and although I was not onsite in DC, I knew he would do well and give it his all. Thankfully, I was there for the awards presentation at the opening ceremony to witness him take 5th in the world. So proud!

I was honored to receive recognition for participation as a chapter executive during the president’s lunch on Monday. Denice Britton, the Western Chapter’s ISA Council Representative also received recognition for her participation this year. Add that to the numerous WCISA members serving on ISA committees and I think it shows that the chapter is well rooted in the ISA leadership activities and industry worldwide.

It was great to see the Western Chapter represented again this year as part of the ISA’s student ambassador program. Oscar del Real from Cal Poly, Pomona was one of the students that participated in a variety of activities during the week. Oscar was one of 5 scholarship recipients at our own conference in San Diego this spring. I was proud to see him representing the chapter at the International level. I expect great things from him in the future.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with ISA’s new executive director, Caitlyn Pollihan. I was surprised how quickly she hit the ground running. Having just started with ISA in July, Caitlyn was interested in programs and events at the chapter level and learning how she could strengthen them. Caitlyn isn’t new to the green industry – she spent over 7 years as the executive director for the Western States Forestry Leadership Coalition and prior to that three in their government affairs office. I enjoyed our conversation and I look forward to working with her in the future.

Our chapter reception on Tuesday evening was held in an atrium beneath a canopy of impressive trees. Each year, chapter members attending the ISA conference, chapter speakers, supporters and others gather to unwind, catch up, mingle, make new contacts, and to celebrate the Western Chapter’s growing role in ISA. A highlight for me was meeting new people and expanding our volunteer base in Arizona and Hawaii. Of course, I love seeing old friends too – it was a full and fruitful week.

Back at home, we are focusing on our fall programing. I take requests seriously and am pleased to see a very ambitious calendar with workshops and symposiums taking place at all levels. For the first time since 2013, the chapter will be offering a certification preparation class. We are partnering with Landscape Online Magazine during their So Cal Landscape Online Expo in Long Beach, California. Not only are we presenting an exam review course, but we have a full-day of ISA programing on the schedule. If it goes well, we hope to do something similar later in the year at their Nor Cal event. I’m also pleased with the progress we’ve made reinvigorating the chapter volunteer committees. Both the municipal and utility committees have reconvened and are well on their way to advancing the interests of arborists they represent. I’ve also been lobbying Chad Brey to bring a skills-based perspective to our Commercial Arborist Committee. I look forward to seeing where the conversation takes us in the coming months.

We are fortunate to have secured grant funding to sustain some of the outreach programs in the Chapter. I can remember when I was a little bit leery of what I called “soft-funding”, but after 12 years running, I will say we’re on solid ground. I look forward to working with John Kabashima, Akif Eskalin and their team on the Britton Fund’s Public Education and Emerging Pests Grant. The project is funded by CalFire to combat PSHB and other aggressive pests affecting our California landscape.

We had a fantastic showing at the California State Fair this summer, thanks to an education grant from the US Forest Service. Together with a small grant from Kuhalani in Hawaii, we will be able to send the TreeCircus to elementary schools on Kauai for Arbor Day this November. The Nevada Division of Forestry has provided funding to develop new programming in Nevada. This will involve climbing skills workshops, featuring Jared Abrojena, that will start in September. The long term goal will be to hold a state climbing-championship and send a state champ to the Western Chapter Tree Climbing Championship. The funding will also allow for TreeCircus assemblies in Nevada schools. It’s never too early to encourage budding arborists to work toward a career in professional arboriculture.

There’s a lot of educational opportunities in the chapter. I’m sure you’ll find events and opportunities that will further your career goals or improve your professional skills. If you have ideas for programs or particular topics you would like to see offered, or would like us to offer in your area, let me know. We’ll do our best to make it happen.

As the seasons change, you can rely on me and my administrative team to help you expand your professional network and improve your professional skills. The Western Chapter is more than just an organization, it’s a community working together for a common goal and with a shared vision to keep our communities green and growing. Thanks for the part you play within that community and allowing my team to be at the epicenter of the action.

I look forward to seeing you this fall, until then, cheers to trees and the people that care for them.

Rose Epperson