Outlook Summer 2023

By Rose Epperson on Friday, June 30, 2023

Outlook Summer 2023 = Let it SNOW!

The 89th Annual Western Chapter Annual Conference & Trade Show in Olympic Valley was a success despite the snowy weather. I have been to 30+ conferences over my career, but this was the first where it actually snowed. It was stunning to look out of the enormous windows of the Everline Resort and see nothing but glistening snow-covered trees and grounds. Hearing stories of how members came early with family and friends to ski and snowboard made me so happy. I loved that Past President Gordon Mann not only offered to lead a ski day after the conference, but also secured a discount of lift tickets for the group.

The conference brought together more than 400 arborists, 40 speakers, and 35 exhibitors from all over. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from experts in the field of arboriculture. The program kicked off with Jared Farmer’s keynote speech. Past President Lisa Smith summarized it in such an efficient manner: “If you have the chance to spend time with the elderly, do it. They have a story to tell. If you have the chance to spend time with trees, take it. They have a story to tell. You have a story to tell. Tell it!” Although I am paraphrasing (Lisa don’t get upset if I botched it), it really resonated with me. Storytelling is such an important part of everything we do.

The conference continued with incredible sessions, panel discussions, and two wonderful laboratory sessions where attendees took a deeper dive at both pests and wood. Kelaine Ravdin closed with yet another hilarious but thought-provoking session – crowning Merlin Schlumberger the “last arborist standing.” The exhibitors showcased their products and services related to arboriculture, providing attendees with the latest tools and technologies in the industry. Despite the snow, attendees were able to network and connect with other professionals in the field. Overall, the 89th annual Western Chapter Conference in Olympic Valley was a great opportunity for arborists to learn, network, and stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the industry. I had been working on bringing the chapter to this venue for almost a decade – to see that process come to fruition was really satisfying.

The Tahoe area had experienced extreme weather through the winter and into spring with record snowfall and crazy wind events. And we experienced both during our preconference activities. Our 12 brave (read: courageous) Britton Fund riders took off in a freezing rain/snow situation during the 16th Annual Britton Fund Ride. Led by Britton Fund Chair Doug Anderson, the riders created a modified course which allowed them to stay safe and still have a bit of fun(d)-raising for trees! On the other side of the border in Reno, Nevada, our disc and link golfers got blown around their respective courses while still managing to have a great time on the courses on behalf of the TREE Fund.

I would like to congratulate the 2022 Chapter award winners and thank them for their outstanding contributions to our organization and the industry as a whole. Their hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed, and we are proud to have them as part of our community. We look forward to seeing their continued success in the future. Please visit the centerfold of this issue to learn more about all the recipients. Seeing Dr. Igor Lacan receive the Award of Merit was a definitely a highlight for me. Igor’s contributions have been extraordinary and working with him is a pleasure.

Another first this year was the addition of five professional scholarship awards that covered registration and travel to the conference. I was proud to welcome Carla Angelo, Julieann Bemis, joseph Martinez, Celina McGregor and MK Youngblood as our first group of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship recipients. Additionally, we were able to increase our student scholarship awards to include travel for five well-deserving students with supplemental funding through our USFS Education Grant. Because of this funding Marco Gonzalez, Michelle Terrazino Mendez, Alexander Senauke, Ashton Ferry, and Laura Werdel gained additional knowledge and experience. We had a wonderful student gathering during the conference where students and professionals formed strong bonds that will last years.

As I look upon the grand success of the conference, I would like to acknowledge the conference committee for their hard work and dedication in making the event possible. Their efforts ensured that the conference was a success and we look forward to working with them again. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of outgoing president, Daniel Goyette. I first met Daniel over a decade ago when he worked with Finch Tree in the LA Valley. Later we reconnected as Daniel was instrumental in bringing WCISA events to Huntington Gardens. As a president, Daniel was diligent and extremely gracious. It was enjoyable to work side by side with him this year.

Shout out to my team at Epicenter for extraordinary planning and onsite logistics. From setting up the venue to coordinating with vendors, managing registration, executing a flawless auction, to ensuring that all the technical aspects were in place, they went above and beyond to make sure that everything was perfect. Their planning, expertise, and commitment to excellence were evident in every aspect of the conference. They are truly the backbone of the event, and I am so grateful for everything they do.

Back to reality – it’s hot as can be and the last of the conference materials are packed away. Summer and fall programing is underway and we are already beginning to plan WCISA’s 90th conference. The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay has been selected as the venue for 2024. Between the trees and the beautiful bay views; we could not ask for a better backdrop for our 90th conference. Mission Bay is a beautiful area in San Diego, California, known for its stunning beaches, parks, and recreational activities. The area is also home to a variety of trees that add to its natural beauty and charm, while providing shade, shelter, and a sense of tranquility to visitors and residents alike. Some of the most common trees in Mission Bay are the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana), which is native to the area, the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis), and California pepper (Shinus molle), as well as a variety of Eucalyptus species. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Cheers to Trees,


Rose Epperson

“Coming out of the pandemic this was by far the best conference I have been to post pandemic you have made it easy for us to transition back to a normal world this conference was outstanding.” - David Mikulak