Executive Director's Outlook Winter 2017 - Open for Business

By Rose Epperson on Sunday, December 31, 2017

As the New Year unfolds, I keep thinking about how crazy the last few months of 2017 were for so many of us. The unusually dry weather and strong winds had everyone on edge. And then the catastrophic fires erupted, displacing thousands of people, and destroying homes and businesses. Many were left homeless and heartbroken. All of us in the west have been watching much of California go up in flames. I realize that as I write this, the largest fire in California’s history (the Thomas fire in Southern California) has burned for more than 2½ weeks—and it’s still burning.

I think, because most arborists are deeply concerned about urban, woodland, and forest trees, as well as climate change and other serious environmental issues, destructive wildfires, like we’ve just seen, hit us harder than we may think. We may wonder if there was something we could have done better. Maybe we were just complaisant, or didn’t think that a fire could spread so rapidly and become unmanageable. There are times like this, when we just have to realize that we can’t control the situation. We can manage vegetation on a client’s property but not on the adjoining properties, and certainly not across an entire landscape. And we certainly can’t control the weather or rainfall.

Our response to disturbing events determines how well we move on and whether or not we adjust appropriately. For example, Shirl McMayon, an arborist in Las Vegas, responded to the recent tragic shooting there in October by planting trees to help the community deal with the horrific and inexplicable act. She and her associates, along with concerned community members, envisioned, planned and built a memorial park to memorialize the shooting victims. The site was a vacant, weedy corner lot in a less urbanized part of town. This park is now a growing legacy and a safe haven for the residents of Las Vegas to share their grief and anxiety, and to move on. You may wonder how this relates to arboriculture, but it was through trees—symbols of growth, endurance, natural renewal, and spiritualism, that a community was able to find some unity and healing.

It’s comforting to write that Sonoma County, the location for the 2018 annual conference, is getting back to normal and is indeed “open for business”. Sonoma County was ravaged by wildfires last October. Many homes and businesses, including two landmark hotels and the iconic 118 year old Fountain Grove ‘Round Barn’ were destroyed. The Hyatt Regency—Sonoma Wine Country, where the conference will be held was outside the burn area. There’s no doubt in my mind that this community could surely use our support. I hope you’ll consider booking your conference accommodations early and join us for a thought-provoking forum, exploring the concepts embodied in the conference theme: “Old Growth, New Growth — Bridging the Gap”. From the pre-conference workshop under the oaks at Galvin Park to the post conference outing to Santa Rosa Community College, our conference committee has really worked to bring together some of the most talented and informed specialists in their areas of expertise. I encourage you to check out the program, register and make you hotel reservation early, as this conference is expected to sell out quickly.

I’m getting excited about the 11th annual Britton Fund ride. This year, there are options for all levels of riders. Novice riders can sign up to ride to the field day at Galvin Park to participate in the oak tree planting ceremony and then on to the Luther Burbank School to see TreeCircus in action. After that it’s back to the hotel. From start to finish, it’s a short 10-mile easy loop. The more experienced riders will revisit the Santa Rosa leg of the 2007 Tour de Trees. Late April is a perfect time of year to visit a community making a come-back from the devastating fires in 2017. The Britton Fund is open for business and looking for riders and supporters. Visit our website www.thebrittonfund.org to sign up as a rider or pledge your support as a sponsor today.

Last year, the Western Chapter Board approved a new design for the WCISA website. It makes its debut this January. New graphics and user-interface are the two important improvements to the site. We have also developed a multipurpose “shopping cart” that allows members to sign up for an event, purchase books, and even renew their membership in a single transactions. We are open for business in a big way in 2018. Keep your eyes open for additional changes ahead.

On the home front… My husband Al and I purchased the office building in front of our current Porterville office. We’re very excited about our commitment to the Western Chapter and look forward to having members visit. Besides the new website and office space, more changes lie ahead, but for now we’re focused on providing new opportunities for learning and professional growth.

I wish you all a wonderful 2018. I encourage you to get involved with the Western Chapter. When it comes time to vote in our election, VOTE! When you attend the regional workshop, respond to the survey at the end of the day! We really do look at that information and use it for planning future programming. Get involved in our social media campaigns. There are weekly discussions on all platforms – news and information for everyone. Attend our 84th Annual Conference – the program has been carefully crafted and features some of best speakers in our chapter and from around country. And don’t overlook the opportunities for networking and connecting with new people.

If you want to get involved with the chapter of are interested in participating on a committee, or just want to help with the conference, email me repperson@wcisa.net and I will find the right spot for you. Incidentally, we do need someone to chair the membership committee. This is a key committee and vital for future growth. As an organization, we have to grow to continue to offer a wide diversity of services and outstanding educational opportunities.

As you start your new year – be “open for business” New ideas, new professional relationships, new opportunities, and new technology can increase your bottom line. You just need to pay attention and reach out as needed.

Hope to see you in Santa Rosa!

Rose Epperson