Outlook - Summer 2020, Lean In

By Rose Epperson on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

To say we’ve had a tough few months would be an understatement. While we all started this year eagerly anticipating all the things that are possible in a new year, we were met with three OTHER things - fear, uncertainty, and doubt - aka “FUD”.

In the spring Western Arborist, I wrote about looking forward to seeing everyone in Squaw Valley: celebrating a great year, hanging with fantastic speakers, and recognizing so many of my colleagues through the awards program. In retrospect (hindsight is 2020!) that message seems pretty awkward as just a week after we went to production the world as we knew it took a sharp turn.

I think at first we all stumbled, unsure of how to react to a changing world. Let’s face it, we’d become a society that expected instant gratification and worrying about something as simple as toilet paper seemed unfathomable. So, what do we do when we stumble? Initially, we are a bit rattled, but then we get up, shake it off and continue to move forward. Moving forward we look for credible information, remain flexible and adapt to the changing environment around us. Arboriculture professionals were privileged to be deemed “essential service” providers. Many of our members kept working. But with privilege comes responsibility. As a safety-forward industry, following CDC and other guidelines became paramount. And with so many homeowners working from home, we are in the spotlight all day, every day. This new notoriety makes ensuring our crews are on top of ANSI and OSHA safety standards a top priority. It is our chance to shine!

Not one to enroll in the “FUD” mindset, we “leaned in” and started looking for solutions, or at least alternatives, for our community-based educational programing. We began making the shift from F2F (face to face) to virtual. Lessons learned early on were

1) Do what is in your control

2) Optimize what’s in your control and

3) Focus on our mission of being a member-driven organization dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation for trees by promoting research and education to advance the professional practice of arboriculture by continuing to provide educational opportunities with new delivery methods while remaining positive.

We are so thankful for Matt Ritter, who stepped up to the plate with his 5-part series on the Botany of Trees. We reached over 1700 people with that initial offering. We are grateful for the growing list of colleagues who are stepping out of their own comfort zone to bring us distance-based online programming. Once again, we are learning together. We launched our First Wednesday Webinar Series in May with Dr. Jim Downer and are following up each month with another timely program topic. We have something to offer all facets of professionals – I hope you will join us for one or many.

We were faced with an awkward timing for the changing of the guard, bringing in new officers and acknowledging our fantastic award winners without the pomp and circumstance a traditional conference. Once again, we “leaned in” and as a result of our brainstorming, we are excited to announce our first “Town Hall Meeting” on July 9th from 4pm to 6pm. This will be a departure from our traditional annual meeting. President Molly Sinnott will be giving a “state of the chapter” address, followed by informative updates from our committees, announcement of our award recipients, and the induction of our officers for 2020-2021.   The meeting will include a presentation by Nelda Matheny and Dr. James Clark.  You don’t want to miss this special event. 

It has been wonderful to work with Molly Sinnott during her role as a volunteer leader over the past decade. The pinnacle of that journey is to serve as President, and Molly has done an exceptional job in that role. She has remained a constant through the noise of our changing priorities, offering sound advice and direction as we moved forward. Molly and I go way back to when she was regional conference chair almost three decades ago. Through the years I’ve had the opportunity to watch her not only grow her own consultancy in the Tahoe basin, but act as a mentor so many new arborists through the certification prep course in Nevada. Plus I just enjoy her general friendly, professional personality - it really has been a pleasure. And now I welcome the new board and look forward to where 2020 will ultimately lead us.

It is said the only way out is through. In that mindset, this summer is the perfect time to “read the greats”. Each of us can define the “greats” for ourselves. You may lose yourself in a timeless novel or sharpen your skills with an industry standard. Now is the perfect time to study for Certification as an Arborist, Tree Climbing Specialist or one of the many specialty credentials available through ISA and our partner organizations. Testing will be opening back up soon. In the meantime…lean in. Stay relevant. Grow.