30 Sep 2016 | Executive Director's Outlook — Fall 2016: Endless Summer #traveling4trees

For me, it’s been a whirlwind summer—jam-packed with meetings, activities, and obligations! My summer “staycation” consisted of many meetings, strategic planning, and three weeks under the ‘big top’ with the TreeCircus. We always joke about needing a vacation from vacation, but this year it was really true. So I topped it off with a trip to Texas for the ISA conference.  

On the heels of a very successful and outstanding annual conference, we went to work putting the final touches on the Green Dream exhibit at the California State Fair. Our new location this year turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Exhibit hall B was full of whimsy…. Andy Trotter and his talented team from West Coast Arborists built yet another masterpiece backdrop in the climbing arena. We showcased the TreeCircus and taught children, young and old, about the value of the trees in their communities. Supported by over 65 volunteers from our membership, fair visitors were once again treated to a great show under the big top.  We are thankful for our partners with the TreeCircus and the generous funding from CalFIRE and the USDA Forest Service. We honestly could not provide this programming without their support.  

Mid-way through the three-week fair run, the WCISA Board, key committee chairs, and staff gathered in Sacramento to develop a new strategic plan to guide our organization in the future as we grow and our needs change. We were fortunate to have the session facilitated by Mark Bluhm, Director of Finance and Operations, from ISA. I was, of course, pulled right back to my business management roots and the organizational planning process. The ABC’s involve identifying: (A) where you are (organizationally) at the time, (B) where you want to be at some point in the future, and (C) a plan charting a course to get there. This year, we added a new twist —KPI (key performance indicator). We brainstormed meaningful metrics and benchmarks that would allow us to evaluate the status and welfare of our organization, advancement of the administrative team, as well as effectiveness of our programs and member services. As we develop our new plan, we will focus on several areas: membership, marketing, education, credentialing, training and governance. 

For the first time in more than a decade, the Board voted to increase membership dues. Effective for the 2017 membership year, the dues for chapter membership will be $50.00 for ISA members and $60.00 for chapter-only members. The membership committee, led by Nicholas Crawford, provided a thorough analysis to the Board. Our goal is to provide value for the membership. Despite the modest increase, members will still receive exceptional value for their dollar, considering the services that membership provides. The committee’s proposal to increase dues was based  on a careful assessment of the current conditions, including rising costs, and on future needs. They looked at quantifiable costs such as the magazine, administrative services, increasing educational opportunities, and other programs in the works. Most members would agree that the benefits of membership speak for themselves. I believe the dues increase is both justified and reasonable, considering the increase in cost of living. I commend Nick and his team for bringing this proposal to the board for discussion and approval.

As the last sections of scaffolding were being packed away in Sacramento, we launched right into a series of special workshops featuring Dr. Francis Schwarze from Switzerland. His research, largely focusing on wood decay and mechanics, was the subject for a summer lecture series which included a day-long lecture and a 2-day, hands-on lab experience for some of the participants. The outstanding workshop was held at two locations: the UC Davis campus and at Huntington Library & Gardens. We also managed to squeeze in a couple of TRAQ training and qualification sessions, helping more arborists develop advanced professional skills.  

Meanwhile, as paperwork was being collated at the office, several CTW evaluator training sessions were being held chapter-wide. Our chapter CTW program has been fully integrated into the ISA program. One area is that all of our judges become ISA evaluators. More than 60 dedicated professionals have been processed through the system. This will insure we have enough trained personnel for skills-testing in the future.    

We had barely caught our breath by the time I headed to Fort Worth for the ISA International Conference and Trade Show. The conference agenda included a number of noted speakers from Western Chapter, who provided their expertise, ideas, and perspective very effectively and with style. I’m filled with pride when I recognized the names of so many chapter members involved at the international level. Congratulations to George Gonzalez, recipient of the Sharon Lilly Award of Achievement, for his work with the Municipal Foresters Institute and so many other projects (Page 24). George has been a longtime friend and consistent resource for me throughout my career. I also want to recognize our three True Professionals of Arboriculture: Carlos Anaya, Kevin Eckert, and Robert Reed (Page 57). We will hear more about their work in the coming months.   

I am so pleased with the educational programming we are providing to the outlying (underserved) areas of the chapter—from Mesa to Arcata to Las Vegas and on to four Hawaiian Islands. We have events happening almost weekly. In the future, we will focus on skills development as well as a wide array of advanced learning opportunities.    

This September we started working on the next series of events—our fall TreeCircus tours, more great regional events, and more work on our credentialing programs. The call for presentations for our 84th annual conference brought a great variety of session ideas to our attention and the 2017 conference committee. They are hard at work organizing another appealing conference for next spring.  

Although the seasons may change, the frenetic pace of my ‘endless’ summer will continue.  I look forward to seeing you all at one of the upcoming events. In the meantime, you can call on me or any of my team to ensure that your experience as a Western Chapter member is positive, and to help you realize the value that membership provides. We pride ourselves in being your primary resource for professional development in Arboriculture.  

Cheers to trees, 


Rose Epperson, CAE

ISA Certified Arborist #WE-1045A


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