Executive Director's Outlook Summer 2017 - Paradise Found

By Rose Epperson on Friday, June 30, 2017

We did indeed find a bit of Paradise in San Diego during the 83rd annual WCISA Conference and Trade show.  What a beautiful venue, what amazing speakers, and what fun we had! 

Each year, I see all the work that goes into organizing and preparing for the annual conference.  And every year I’m amazed at the results. A few years ago, at the ISA leadership conference in Champaign, Illinois, we had a speaker who challenged us to envision our “greatest good.” Now, I’m a bit of a geek...but mine was to put on conferences with standing-room only sessions, and with people listening intently at the door, and a bustling trade show floor.  That vision was a reality in San Diego.   

We had an unusually wet year, so I was hoping for nice weather for the conference. But to our chagrin, when we left for San Diego, the skies were cloudy and there was a good chance of rain. Everything we needed for the conference was in the bed of our truck covered by a tarp. You could say I was a bit uneasy that our ‘parade’ was about to get rained on. But as luck would have it, the sun came out as soon as we reached San Diego. Our weekend Britton Fund Riders were not so fortunate, they got rained out about 40 miles into their adventure. Lucky for them, the spa at the Paradise Point Resort was a welcome relief for the cold and wet riders. Nonetheless, I was very proud of our enthusiastic riders and delighted by the warm reception they received by the local committees ? a match made in Paradise.

In preparation for the conference, we planned carefully and partnered with a diverse group of organizations and interests. This helped to expand our perspective, and accomplish more of our objectives. With this approach, the Board is ready to move forward by providing the leadership, education, and professional development that western arborists have come to depend on.  

Plan… Planning for this event involved a good mix of staff and local volunteers.  I knew going in that we had an experienced and very capable Conference Chair ? Michael Palat. Mike has a way of motivating his committee to get things done. And they really excelled at it.  It was pretty obvious that everyone on the committee was proud of their work ? and it really showed from the decor to entertainment, to the great program, and finally the instructive and fun botanical tour of San Diego’s spectacular Balboa Park.

Partners… You know the old saying “it takes a village” well it was certainly apropos for this conference. Although the Western Chapter has a reputation for putting on really great conferences, such events would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and partners. The City of San Diego welcomed us and supported our tree planting and programming from the very start. Tree San Diego, one of our collaborators, helped us think about offsetting our carbon footprint. They invited attendees to donate to the city’s tree planting efforts to leave the area a better place. 

Our 20-plus Britton Fund riders had two noteworthy school plantings along the planned 90-mile route. The first, organized by Corey Bassett, was held at the Child Development Center at UCSD. The preschoolers were delighted by Tim Womick’s fun presentation. Local arborist and veteran rider, Brian Bishop, pitched in by donating the tree and helping with the presentation. The lunch stop was at the Farm Lab in Encinitas. The facility there is an amazing interactive learning experience for local school children. It impressed our riders too! Thanks to Vince Mikulanis from Davey Resource Group for donating the Cherimoya tree.

Progress… So where do we go from here? By the time you get your summer issue of the Western Arborist, the team at Epicenter will have organized much of the summer and fall programming. The calendar of events is packed with more than 15 regional conferences, both skills- and science-based programming. We are excited to be partnering with Landscape Online at their Landscape Expo in Long Beach this fall. They’re offering a full-day of programming that showcases some of our favorite local experts.  Dr. Fred Roth, Don Hodel, Jorge Ochoa, and Gillian Martin will be among the speakers presenting information you can use on the job – tomorrow!  From birds to bees, to proper tree care – you don’t want to miss this opportunity.  Also, Oscar Sanchez will be demonstrating proper pruning.  I should add here, that we are bringing back the Certified Arborist Prep Course and Exam sessions.  These intensive, one and one-half day review programs are geared to prepare attendees for the (ISA) Certified Arborist exam. The class is followed by an exam. Certification Chair, Doug Anderson has been working to expand these prep sessions. We hope to do more of this type training in other areas of the chapter.

The Board put the finishing touches on the Strategic Plan for Vision 2020 this spring, and I am looking forward to working with the Board and committee chairs to bring continued success and growth to the Chapter and its members. We congratulate our Chapter Award winners (see page 18-19) and give thanks to our sponsors – they continue to amaze me.

So here we are at the end of another President’s term. It’s been a wonderful year working with Lisa Smith. Like those before her, she will be reaching out to members to encourage them to serve on the board and become leaders in the industry. Give it some thought – it’s quite a commitment, but you come away with lifelong friends, invaluable experiences, and a wealth of new skills. I look forward to continued progress and growth under the leadership of Rick Gessner.  Remember that my team and I are ready to assist you or  guide you with your professional growth. Call on us with questions and ideas.

Until next time, Cheers to Trees….

Rose Epperson, CAE

ISA certified arborist WE-1045A