24 Dec 2016 | Executive Director's Outlook — Winter 2016: #growwithwcisa

It’s that time of year again. For business owners — it’s a time to reflect and make new plans and adjust accordingly. For the chapter, it’s a time to wrap things up, take stock of what we’ve accomplished, and begin planning for the coming year. And for individuals, a time to gather with our families and loved ones and make resolutions for both personal and professional growth and development in the New Year.

Every October I head to Champaign, Illinois to meet with the other chapter executives and volunteer leaders within the ISA organization. For me, it’s a very busy and productive week and I always come back exhausted, but upbeat and full of ideas for enhancing our programs and increasing the value of membership. Our focus will be on improving the experience we provide to our members through new technologies, services and improved organizational structure. This year was bittersweet for me with the announcement of Jim Skiera’s retirement (scheduled for the end of 2017). I’m a true believer in succession planning, so it came as no surprise that the ISA Board and staff had already embarked on a yearlong strategy to keep the ISA ship moving forward in the right direction. Jim and I have been friends and colleagues for over 30 years. We’ve seen the growth and changes in the industry that go well beyond what our predecessors thought were possible or even envisioned. I will have much more to say about Jim in the coming months; it will be a pleasure honoring him, his considerable accomplishments and his legacy to Arboriculture. He has truly changed the face of Arboriculture and elevated our profession to its current status “one tree at a time”.

When I reflect back on our accomplishments for 2016, what leaps to mind is credentialing. Seems we spent a lot of time, both in the meeting room and on social media, discussing the myriad of credentialing programs, what’s involved, and how we benefit from them. What comes to mind when I think of credentialing is alphabet soup. There are so many acronyms, it can be hard keeping them all straight —CA, CTW, US, MS, BCMA, RCA, CTSP, TRAQ, and the list keeps growing (see the legend). I’ve even gone a step further and coined this alphabet soup “Cream of Credentials”. With the right mix of “ingredients” - experience, ethics, leadership, participation and life-long learning - we can contribute to the health and growth of the urban forests we live in, and will be leaving to our children in the future.

The value of credentials is that they assure consumers that the credential-holder possesses a high degree of expertise regarding specific fields of arboriculture, such as pest management. Through the credential process, whether you are a candidate or part of the proctoring or evaluation cadre - you learn the importance of collaborating as a team. As with other professions, we learn from each other. Making a go of it on your own is difficult at best — even for the most gifted student.

To support and maintain the high quality of our credentialing programs, the Western Chapter offers discounted member pricing for our professional development opportunities. We present 18-20 outstanding and topical regional conferences each year in both scientific and practical arboriculture. We’ve been adding new specialty learning opportunities exploring new topics and presenting leading-edge technology and vital research to further our profession. Our workshops and special events provide ample networking opportunities, allowing you to learn from others and to associate with a varied group of professionals from all over the West. Our network consists of over 7,000 arborists, tree workers, and other professionals in the western region.

The Western Chapter will be holding its 83rd Annual Conference and Trade Show May 8 - 11, 2017 in San Diego, California at the exquisite Paradise Point Resort. This year’s conference theme is “Paradise Found: Plans, Partners and Progress” and will be focusing on building partnerships and working with related disciplines. We have a great program and an impressive lineup of speakers – book-ended by Andy Lipkis and Dan Lambe. The program balances both the scientific and practice aspects of arboriculture throughout the schedule. Although Paradise Point is not an official botanic garden - it’s diverse planting palette is a natural backdrop for our group.

Our 10th Britton Fund Ride will take cyclists through scenic corridors, beautiful vistas, rural areas, and back country roads. The addition of a multi-day ride for our avid cyclists is an exciting new twist this year. The ride is one of the top fund-raising activities for our research and education foundation. Not only is the Britton Fund Ride about endurance, it’s about making an impact on the local community too. The cyclists, joined by the TreeCircus (our pals Tim Womick and Chad Brey), will stop at a school or two along the route to share the benefits of trees with the students and teachers.

Success is never a solo act. Through our partnerships and collaborative efforts, we can bring new light and plentiful resources to our businesses and industry. Volunteer opportunities at chapter events give you the chance to represent the industry and make new professional contacts.

Our partnership with The Britton Fund offers our members several opportunities to give back to the industry. We had a wonderful workday at Pixie Woods in Stockton in November. It was a great collaboration of the local Lions, PG&E, and our volunteers to bring much needed care to the park, while learning from each other, and having a really great time. We continue to strengthen our programming in all areas of the chapter through local partnerships with Aloha Arborists, Arizona Community Tree Council, Nevada Shade Tree Council, and Southern Nevada Arborists Group. We have a vibrant relationship with California ReLeaf, California Urban Forest Council, and so many of our local groups.

The Chapter board is finalizing a new strategic plan. It focuses on diverse programming to be delivered using the latest technology and information. Additionally, we have developed a series of key performance indicators to allow us to measure our progress. Of course, as in any analytic function - the information is only as good as the data provided. I want to encourage member participation in surveys and other feedback opportunities throughout the year. Your input assists us in creating and continuing to offer programs and services that are most beneficial to the membership. Help us do our job— participate!

As we embark on the New Year, I challenge you to find opportunities to grow with the Western Chapter. Share teachable moments – make a positive impact on your profession. I will be using the hashtag #growwithwcisa during the year 2017 and invite you to join me there as we continue to grow together.

Here’s a few easy ways to get started:

Get Involved with the chapter or local organizations

Commit to lifelong learning

Become a mentor - share your passion with tomorrow’s professional

Stand out, speak up, collaborate with others, inform your clients and spread the word about the value of professional tree care.

Together, we can make 2017 even better than 2016 by building a community of arborists and landscape specialists rooted in continuing education, specialization, collaboration, networking, and partnering as needed to advance our common goals. We must continue to branch out and reach a wider audience and further the practice of Arboriculture.

Cheers to trees!


Rose Epperson, CAE

ISA Arborist WE1045A


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