Outlook Fall 2019 - Growing our Community

By Rose Epperson on Friday, September 27, 2019

Outlook: Fall 2019 Growing our community

I’ve just returned from the ISA conference in Knoxville, Tennessee and once again, I arrived home inspired. Not only by the city, but its residents, the broad community of arborists, and the dynamic industry we work in. Each year, ISA holds its annual conference in a different city, and is hosted by the local ISA chapter. Attendees spend a week meeting interesting people, making new contacts, attending presentations and improving their professional skills and knowledge base as well as checking out the local trees, local watering holes, or perhaps the golf courses, parks, or hiking trails.

It goes without saying that I love my work. There are the day-to-day  duties like printing name tags, administering chapter business, and managing educational programs, but there is so much more about the job that is so rewarding. I’m constantly amazed by the cohesive community that exists within our profession, and which was so evident at the recent ISA Conference. For me, it’s all about catching up with friends, colleagues, sharing information, ideas, and creative solutions, being supportive, seeking or offering advice. I learn so much in this manner that helps me do my job better.

At the conference, we were treated to an inspiring opening keynote address from Steve Curwood, host of NPR’s Living on Earth radio program. If you haven’t listened to a Living on Earth segment you may remember Steve as the host of the All Things Considered radio program. If you couldn’t attend the meeting, you missed a rousing and thought provoking performance. My greatest take-away from what Steve shared with us was that trees exist in communities — forests, intertwined and when planted or growing in groups, operate as complex systems that function to provide benefits to the entire community. These systems are part of a continuum, started well before humans arrived, and should continue after we’re gone. He talked about people acting in ways much like trees do. Considering how our actions affect others in the community. His message was compelling and his audience engaged and supportive.

The conference program that followed was chock-full of engaging presentations, some we’ve seen here in the West, and others involved new subjects or exceptional speakers. It was also very gratifying for me that so many of our members were on the program — Dr. Jim Clark, Igor Lacan, James Komen, Jessika Mitchell, to name a few. We learned a lot! One of the highlights for me is what I call the ‘sidewalk CEUs’ – of course they have no official value, but what I learned from visiting with other professionals in the halls, trade show, and social events is invaluable to me. 

Knoxville was a showcase of what our industry is all about: the Tree Climbing Championship, what’s new, what’s considered passé, the latest in technological advances, new research updates, etc. Amid all the other activities, ceremonies, meals, mixers, and so much more, I found the time to sit down with ISAs leadership and discuss concerns and provide input on the direction of the organization.

The other thing I want to share with you is how amazing all the ITCC climbers were during the competition that preceded the conference. It was such a great event this year. The preliminary climbs started on Friday, before I arrived, but I did get to see WCISA men’s champion, Chad Brey, compete in his events Saturday. Chad demonstrated his exceptional climbing skills as he represented the West. Our women’s champ, Kate Miller, was unable to compete due to an ACL injury. Watching competitors from all over the world collaborate and cheer each other on was so much fun. I’m so impressed by the ‘next generation’ of arborists. The accolades continued at the opening ‘ISA Celebration’ and the following morning at the “True Professionals of Arboriculture” presentation where both Dr. James Clark and Andrew Trotter were recognized for their service to the ISA and Western Chapter. All the award recipients were truly amazing. I love it when the hard work and commitment of our members is finally recognized.

Longtime member and good friend, Dr. James Clark received the Sharon J. Lilly Award of Achievement. Jim was recognized for his many years of service to our organization and the industry. He’s co-authored four books, numerous publications and more than 30 articles in industry journals. He was acknowledged for his most recent work on the 10th Edition of the Guide for Plant Appraisal and his many years of service on both the chapter and ISA level. Jim continues to devote his time to the Western Chapter and ISA by continuing his work on the 10th Edition and facilitating the updating  of the Species Classification rating materials as well as other important industry programs and projects. 

 Andrew (Andy) Trotter joined the ranks of ISA True Professionals of Arboriculture. Andy was recognized for his commitment to education and growth of his employees, the communities they serve and the industry as a whole. His focus on employee education has created a workforce of 80 Certified Arborists and 140 Certified Tree Climber Specialists at West Coast Arborists. Andy has served on many boards and committees over the years, and currently serves on the board of California ReLeaf. Andy is a co-founders of the Tree Care for Birds initiative (now an established program within the Western Chapter). He was also instrumental in developing the Best Management Practices for the program. And somehow, Andy finds the time to serve on the board for Urban Salvage and Reclaimed Woods because urban wood waste utilization has been of great interest to him.

Back home, I‘m excited about our fall programming, upcoming events, and getting to work on next year’s conference. We just launched ASCA’s Tree and Plant Appraisal Qualification. Our first sessions filled up overnight. So we will be offering more training programs throughout the chapter. Our regional programming is wrapping up for 2019. Our fall calendar is full, and we’ve already started planning for next year. The 2020 Annual Conference Committee is meeting in Olympic Valley to begin planning next spring’s conference. It’s going to be another wonderful opportunity to connect with old friends, learn from recognized specialists and some of the newer movers and shakers in the chapters. I can’t wait to share the plans with you all as they unfold. We will also be hosting the North American Tree Climbing Championship in Balboa Park (San Diego, California) in October. WCTCC Chairman, Philip Ruiz and Arizona Public Service’s John Gauthier (member profile page 39) are chairing the event. It will be their “swan song” as they will be handing over the reins for managing NATCC to new leadership. This duo has been together for over a decade, and their work, creativity, and passion embodies the competition. Climbers and volunteers from the USA, Mexico and Canada will be gathering to share and compare the expertise.

I’m keeping a bag packed this fall, so I can travel around the chapter at a moments notice. I hope to get a chance to say hello to many of you. I invite you to get involved, become part of the community. The Western Chapter is growing every day. You can help us grow by liking us on social media, participating in online discussions, volunteering, attending workshops or other training events in your hometown and elsewhere within the Chapter. If you want to grow your professional community, take advantage of all the Western Chapter has to offer.

Have a wonderful fall season.