Outlook - Spring 2023

By Rose Epperson on Friday, March 31, 2023

Now that the holiday season is behind us, it’s time to “dig in” and get down to business. As the phrase “spring cleaning” suggests, spring is a time for renewing energy, reorganizing, and setting plans in action for the coming year. For us at the Western Chapter, it means digging into the programing and events that keep our membership learning and reaching and exceeding personal and professional goals.

In 2022, we welcomed 515 new members into the chapter. The Membership Committee, led by chair Gordon Matassa, has developed strategies to ensure that both new and existing members know they are an important part of the chapter. One of their programs is a quarterly raffle for both new and renewing members. 10 random members are selected to receive some nifty swag in the mail. Check out the latest list on recipients on page 23.

We are well on the way planning our 89th Annual Conference, “Digging In: An Exploration of Arboriculture.” The program and activities are really coming together nicely. I can’t wait to hear our Keynote Speaker, Jared Farmer. I first heard Jared in June of 2014 at the joint conference of California Urban Forests Council and California ReLeaf in San Diego. At the time, I was serving as President of ReLeaf. Jared did a reading of “Trees in Paradise” for the attendees of the event. The book is based on the history of California’s trees. I was mesmerized by the story and felt a deep connection to the orange, eucalyptus and even palm trees Jared wrote about. Getting the opportunity to have him share similar prose about historical trees, while among them in the Tahoe Basin, is so exciting. I can’t wait. The program is uniquely curated to complement the surrounding environs as well as the work of local tree care professionals. Conference chair Molly Sinnott shares a wonderful overview in her invitation on page 15.

In February, the WCISA Board and Committee chairs spent two days digging into a refresh of our strategic plan. Led by Kevin Martlage from Nextier Advisors, we walked through our initiatives, retiring some (after celebrating those successes), continuing others, and adding some new, action-oriented ones. It was a valuable experience. We had several new committee chairs attend. It gave them a chance to dig into the chapter’s workplan and see how we can continue to grow together.

Spring is a great time to dust off our individual organizational plans as well. So many strategic plans end up on a shelf or in a file somewhere. Pull yours out and put it into action. Revisit the planning process I have shared in the past. We know that the planning process involves looking at where we are and where we want to be and then aligning our resources (4M + T) to get us there. When planning for (or considering) growth we need to take an in-depth look at our operations, resources, and relationships both within our organizations and in the outside environment in which we operate. If we only had a crystal ball, it would make the process much easier - and probably a lot more fun. However, when you take away the mystery and look at the facts, you'll find the crystal ball isn't really necessary after all.

No matter whether you are planning tomorrow's workday or looking strategically over a long span of time, the first step remains the same: where are we today? Looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) is the perfect foundation for growth and planning. Evaluating performance of employees and surveying their strengths and weaknesses can provide another level of information that's essential to your growth. Take inventory. What tools and materials do you have? What's their condition and how do they fit into a new or changed direction? Keeping up to date on the most progressive technology can lead to a more efficient and effective workplace.

Do you have a business plan? If not, write one. A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3 to 5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues (https://www.sba.gov/). There are so many guides and tools available online to walk you through the process, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Identifying what differentiates your business from others is key to success.

Spring is the perfect season to polish your professional presence. Make sure your credentials are all up to date. Now that the pandemic is behind us, the extensions and extended extensions granted by ISA have ended. Encourage your team to continue to strive for the next level of credentials as well. Whether it's Certified Tree Climber Specialist or Board-Certified Master Arborist, working toward and maintaining an ISA credential creates a built-in network for training and knowledge. Western Chapter members really dug into professional development last year. We had 551 new arborists and 499 new TRAQ credential holders. We held a record 31 TRAQ courses in 2022. It’s awesome to see so many taking advantage of the programing the chapter has to offer.

We have a full program for California Arbor Week with the TreeCircus in March. Ringmaster Tim Womick along with resident naturalist Grayson Keating will be visiting schools from San Diego to Oroville. Funded by our USFS grant funding, the duo will be delivering the message “What Do Trees Give Us” in a fun and educational way. It’s a great way to introduce professional arboriculture to elementary school kids. The circus will be back in the Los Angeles area for the LA County Fair in early May. If you are in the LA area, we invite you to come out and volunteer in the exhibit. It’s fun and so rewarding to share your love for trees with the community. This summer they will be joined by Chad Brey at the California State Fair in Sacramento – more opportunities to dig in and get involved.

2023 is shaping up to be a stellar year for education and growth here in the West. Our regional conference schedule is filled with events that will increase the level of professionalism in your work – from climbing to soils and wildlife to risk evaluation. As we move into the conference season, my team at Epicenter will be digging in preparing for the conference. We look forward to seeing you all there. If it’s your first conference, make sure to take advantage of all the networking opportunities – meeting suppliers and chatting with speakers and other members during the breaks and evening events. You will come away with so many great ideas on how to continue to grow with WCISA. We can’t wait to hear all about it.

Cheers to trees,