Outlook Spring 2020 - Elevate your experience

By Rose Epperson on Thursday, March 26, 2020

I am looking forward to the 86th Annual Conference being held at the Resort at Squaw Creek this November. The site is just minutes from North Lake Tahoe, set within the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I’ve been working with the resort since 2013 to hold our conference, and can’t think of a more beautiful setting. They have been very accommodating and even the room rate is a bargain! I want to encourage each of you to attend the conference and make the most of it…that is to elevate your sights and reach for your ‘highest peak’, in the professional sense. Make a commitment to your professional growth by registering early.

The two and a half day program in Olympic Valley could be a pivotal point in your professional development, or for that matter a career– changing experience. The ambitious program has been carefully crafted to bring together expertise from a number of different specialties in the greater arboricultural community. We have assembled a slate of outstanding speakers at local, regional, state, and national levels. Even experienced professionals need to keep up with the latest developments, research, and advances in their particular specialties. Continuing education keeps us sharp, professionally, and keeps us more competitive. The planning committee has organized another superb educational meeting and provided a great backdrop to meet other arborists and make important connections.


Here are some tips on elevating your conference experience:

Prepare a game plan. After you register, carefully review the schedule to see who is speaking and which sessions are of greatest interest or use to you. If you want to know more about a speaker or his or her topic, do some research online. Ask your colleagues if they’re planning to attend and if they have any recommendations. Make sure you don’t miss something of interest or that could be useful to you. If there is some presenter you’ve been wanting to talk with, make sure to attend his or her session. You may be able to chat with them briefly at the end of their talk, or as they are leaving the room. At the very least, get their card. There will be many other opportunities to talk with the speakers during the conference.


Make a commitment to talk with speakers and meet other attendees. All of our speakers have been chosen for their expertise, and interesting take on their subject matter. If you end up having a conversation with someone you’ve profiled online, they will be flattered that you know something about them, and more open to talking with you. Don’t just focus on the ‘superstars’. Most of the attendees there have their own unique skills, talents, and expertise. During the event you’ll have ample time to meet other attendees and speakers. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about things that interest you, get some advice, make some connections, and exchange contact information…so get out there and make the most of it.


Be on your “A” game. We built in some unscheduled time during the conference for networking, and talking with people you haven’t met. Don’t pull out your smart phone and check FaceBook for updates. Turn to the people around you and see if you can strike up a conversation. Start by introducing yourself, and asking questions: Who they are? Where they’re from? What do they do? Ask about their interests? If it’s a dead end, move on to someone else.


Don’t be afraid to approach someone. Most people are very open to speaking with others at conferences, particularly those with similar interests. If you recognize someone, but don’t know their name, start there. If you look around the room, you’ll see that many people are already engaged in conversations, but there will be people who are on their own. If someone you met earlier is standing with a group you haven’t met, join them and introduce yourself. You never know who you’ll meet, and whether you’ll form a lasting relationship with them, unless you make an effort to meet new people, and see if they have shared interests. You may find that he or she has information or expertise that is of use to you, or vice versa. That’s when you exchange contact information.


Don’t let good connections die. When you get back to the office, don’t slip back into your comfort zone. As soon as you get a chance, make a list all of your more promising contacts. These are the people you offered to help, and those who offered to help you in some capacity. Try to contact them as soon as your first opportunity. They are more likely to respond favorably if you do so sooner rather than later. In that manner, you can turn a casual conversation into a more formal contact. Follow up with a purpose. Don’t email everyone on your list an impersonal or generic note. Reflect on your conversation and mention how valuable the conversation was. Follow through on offers of assistance, additional information, referrals, etc. This is how relationships move forward. Stay connected to the people who responded back and contact them periodically to see what they’ve been up to, and to share what you’ve been doing. Sometimes it’s nothing more than asking for a comment, some advice, or a referral. It works both ways. Professional development and career advancing are strongly influenced by your colleagues and wider network of collaborators.

I’m indebted to the amazing group of local volunteers and conference committees who have been working on the conference all year. On Monday help give a rousing send-off to those members participating in the 13th Annual Britton Fund Ride—the Rock to Road Ride, or bring your golf clubs and play a round with the other participants at Summerset Country Club in Reno, the course is opening just for us so it’s like your own private club—a benefit for the TREE Fund. We’ve also organized a great spouse/ guest program to highlight the unique history of the area: High Camp, Thunderbird Lodge, and the Donner Museum. Spend a day or two before or after the conference to take in the scenic beauty of the area, or perhaps drive around the still pristine lake. The Tahoe region is truly an urban forest. The urbanized areas are still largely forested and surrounded by natural forest lands. You’ll be able to hear from local land managers, utility companies, and fire agencies about their particular concerns for protecting the unique Tahoe Basin forest, during our post conference tour.

I speak for my entire team when I say we are delighted to spend the week with you in historic Olympic Valley. Let us know what we can do to elevate your experience. I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming conference. See you soon!

Rose Epperson