Outlook Spring 2019 - Sparking the Aloha

By Rose Epperson on Friday, March 22, 2019

Outlook:  Spring 2019
Sparking the “Aloha Spirit”

My husband Al and I just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary by volunteering to help with the Aloha Arborist Association’s 3rd Annual Tree Trimmers Jamboree held this year in memory of Greg Severino, a much respected member of the arborist community in Hawaii, and a close friend of ours. Al and I met 30-odd years ago while volunteering at the Tree Climber’s Jamboree in Southern California. Over the years, we’ve formed lasting ties with many of the arborists, climbers, and their families that gathered for these annual events. It seemed fitting to celebrate these ties of friendship and to honor Greg in this way. For me the event is about seeing old friends, meeting new people, and feeling the energy and sense of community. It was an inspiring experience. The island climbers were joined by other climbers from as far away as New Jersey. The competitive field included a mix of experienced and aspiring climbers, but all were filled with the “aloha spirit”.

Aloha Arborist Association President, Desireé Page, put her heart and soul into organizing the event. The competition, supported by Mike Kraus and his company, Tree Works, Inc. on the big island of Hawaii, got off to a good start and progressed without a hitch. The weather, of course, was about as good as it gets. I was so impressed by the solidarity among the competitors and competing companies at the event. The backdrop for the jamboree, the Botanic World Gardens outside Hilo Hawaii – was truly remarkable for everyone involved there. I know it sounds clichéd, but ‘a good time was had by all’. For the local climbers, the weekend just got better when Ardie Terpstra from Wesspur displayed a selection of specialized gear and high tech gadgets that many of the island climbers had seen only in catalogs. From the intense interest that I saw at her table, she could have sold a lot of gear that day. It was so amazing to see everyone’s delight and wonder while chatting about and examining the gear. Ardie’s trip from Washington State was certainly worth the effort to her.

The top in-state climber, Justin Donahue, secured a coveted spot in the Western Chapter’s official Tree Climbing Championship, scheduled for June 8th and 9th at Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin, CA. Thirty plus climbers will compete for the opportunity to represent the West at the international level in Knoxville this August. Although all the climbing spots have been filled, we still could use more volunteers, exhibitors, and sponsors. The event will kick off with a full–day devoted to safety (A Day of Safety) led by Jared Abrojena and friends. I want to thank the sponsors who are on board at this time: Bishop, CalLine Equipment, Western Tree, Truewerk, Design by DeVries, and Chopper. We are also thankful for support from ArborMaster and their team of sponsors for the Champion’s prize packages. To get your name on the list, visit https://westernchaptertcc.com

Our annual conference, which is being held in Honolulu this year, will embrace the unique ‘spirit of aloha’ that is so prevalent across the Hawaii islands. It’s been 12 years since we held our annual conference in Hawaii. Actually, that conference which was held in 2007, was a joint conference with ISA. WCISA’s last annual conference was held in 2000 on the island of Maui. Peter Cowles who was the WCISA president at the time, convened the conference there. It was a memorable event – great educational sessions, an outstanding opportunity to network and visit with the exhibitors and to enjoy the beautiful tropical setting. It was also a good mix of attendees from nearby, as well as the mainland. Historically, we’ve met in Hawaii only 4 times. It seems only fitting that we will be holding the meeting there again this year. This year’s conference was chosen, as is customary, by WCISA President Carol Kwan, a longtime resident of Hawaii. While on the board of directors, she lobbied to improve WCISA outreach to Hawaii, and has succeeded in many ways. As you know, the Western Chapter in comprised of four states, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. We face some unique challenges with our wide geographic range, but we benefit by having such a diverse and varied membership and by holding our annual conferences in other states.

We’ve had some push back on social media about the Hawaiian island venue. When concern about the conference being held in a popular ‘tropical vacation’ site, arose, the most compelling response came from Steve Connolly, Regional Manager for Asplundh Tree Experts in Hawaii. He offered the following rebuttal: “I know Hawaii has been labeled as a vacation destination, but you need to understand there are ‘tree people’ here, and we are a part of the chapter. We care about the industry and want to improve it as much as you do. It’s just as hard for us to go to Western Chapter conferences on the mainland, as it is for you to come here. I can assure you that there are many people in Hawaii working hard to make this a great educational event for all, Rose and the WCISA have been doing the same…  We’ve done our best to keep costs reasonable and find the best value in airline and on island transportation.

Chapter president, Carol Kwan, emphasized the Chapter’s great diversity when sharing her vision for our 85th Annual conference with the program committee. Carol wanted to look at our chapter as a whole, through the lens of all four states, and incorporate some of their unique issues, but in her back yard ? Hawaii. The program looks to be exceptional, with speakers representing all four states. She has also included a number of speakers from around the globe for an international perspective. It’s really been a pleasure supporting this conference and watching Carol’s vision become a reality. We’ve also planned some exciting tours: viewing exceptional trees in the city or visiting the renowned Honolulu Botanic Gardens. You really can’t go wrong.

We’ve planned some great pre- and post-conference events that I hope members will take advantage of. There’s our 12th Annual Britton Fund Ride on Oahu on April 29. The 62 mile route includes 2,440 feet of elevation gain. We head from the Sheraton Waikiki along the southeastern shore of Oahu around Diamond Head to Kailua and back. Riders will raise a minimum of $700.00 dollars. Teams are allowed - minimum of $700.00 per rider (for example - 3 rider team will have a minimum of $2,100.00). Our Tree Fund Golf Outing is also planned for Monday – the golfers will head to the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Club for some of the most picturesque golf holes on Oahu. Don’t miss the chance to play one of the world’s best military golf courses, while supporting research around the world!  And don’t forget the Post Conference: The 10th edition of the Guide for Plant Appraisal, offered by Dr. Tom Smiley and Dr. James Clark

With respect to chapter activities, we’ve gotten off to a promising start by offering a robust schedule of educational opportunities throughout the chapter. The recent Annual Western Tree Failure Report Program meeting was sold out again this year. We’ve looked into other venues, but the location at Filoli Gardens is still the favored site. The Southern California tree failure meeting is coming up soon ? the end of March. Dr. Ed Gilman and Mark Chisholm teamed up with the inimitable Brian Kempf for another Structural Pruning tour. We returned to the same 4 venues we visited 18 months ago and before then, to see how a number of the trees have responded to structural pruning over the past 6 years. It’s been a  very popular workshop for members. Our social media feeds were buzzing the whole week as we followed their journey. We are rounding out the spring programing with a multi-city workshops tour focusing on ANSI A300 Standards. This time, we will be visiting Reno, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Rural areas of Ely and Elko, Nevada will have the opportunity to participate in the workshop remotely. Bringing high quality educational offerings to more remote areas of the chapter is one of our strategic initiatives. I am proud to see that we’re making headway in that effort.

Regional programing will resume after the conference – we have another set of exceptional workshops and events coming up. Stay tuned for all the updates. Hope to see you all in Waikiki!

Cheers to trees,