20 Mar 2017 | President's perspective - Spring, 2017

I'm sure I’m not alone here, but spring is a special time for me. It’s my favorite season — when the weather is mild, the days are sunny and we are getting outdoors more often. I’m particularly looking forward to our upcoming WCISA Annual Conference in San Diego at the gorgeous Paradise Point Resort and Spa in Mission Bay. This San Diego getaway is tucked away on a 44-acre island retreat, featuring lush tropical gardens, meandering lagoons and comfortable, well-appointed bungalow-style guest rooms. It’s a spectacular setting, one that is perfect for a week of learning and networking with fellow arborists. 

The Conference theme: Plans, Partners and Progress was developed to take advantage of the location, while promoting the Chapter’s overall mission of providing the latest scientific and technological information to further the professional development of its members.

Speakers from around the nation and the globe will be there to explain how planning, partnerships, and innovation can advance the interests  of arborists and stakeholders committed to managing urban trees/forests in a more progressive and sustainable manner. This requires state-of-the art information and the latest technology.

We know that planning and strategizing are key to keeping our organization relevant and vital to the interests of the members. WCISA has taken the old maxims “plan your work, and work your plan” and “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” to heart. This past year, our Board of Directors has been working on long-range strategic planning based on the recently revised Five-year Strategic Plan. This is an important and challenging process to assess program accomplishments and shortfalls, and develop new goals based on the changing needs of the membership. This allows us to develop new ways to deliver educational and membership services to a growing and very diverse organization. We are committed to finding new and better ways to meet member  expectations. We use the strategic plan as a road map to direct our efforts and to set new goals and objectives.

Planning can be tedious. One of the major accomplishments of the Board was reviewing and updating the bylaws of our chapter’s Constitution—not an exciting undertaking, but very important for the efficient functioning of the organization. Updating the bylaws is done to reflect current language, and changing administrative processes. The bylaws are the organization’s operating manual. They define the size of the board, how it will function; roles and duties of directors and officers and how business is conducted. In essence, it determines operational processes so that we can effectively fulfill our mission.

The concept of partnering within or outside the WCISA community has also become more important in maintaining relevance, competitiveness, and developing a more effective and comprehensive approach in the 21st century. We face growing challenges such as climate change, drought cycles, changing and often conflicting regulations, increasing client expectations and demand for increasing levels of expertise and services covering a wider range of subjects. It is becoming increasingly more important to consult with professionals in other fields. The perspectives or expertise  they can provide, improve our ability to successfully compete or do the work in a professional manner.

Regardless of the type of work you typically do, it is becoming more important to draw on the knowledge of other professionals, such as soil specialists, landscapes architects, engineers, plant pathologists, entomologists, tree appraisal specialists, etc. WCISA’s Board is fortunate to attract a wide range of professionals with considerable experience and different skill sets. This has allowed us to identify areas where change is needed and to take more effective action.

I’ve been inspired by the partnerships that some of my colleagues have formed within the organization, as well as professionals and organizations outside of the tree care industry. We all benefit from educational outreach, collaboration, and  association with allied professionals, students, community groups, researchers, and other groups with a common goal. This year, I made an effort to connect with local landscape designers and architects who need help with climate change issues, planting considerations, tree selection to meet specific objectives, changing nursery stock, and other issues. It has been rewarding to pass on ‘best management practices’ and professional advice. I’m hoping this will influence the choices landscape designers make regarding the selection and planting of our future urban trees — the same trees we will be providing care for tomorrow!

Working within a network, comparing notes with colleagues, and searching for answers outside of our ‘comfort zone’ brings opportunity, creativity, innovation, sharing of resources, and advancement. Climate change is the leading challenge we face today. As more people become aware of the environmental benefits of trees, for example, heat island mitigation, and the importance of professional tree care, our need for more specific and comprehensive information and advanced technology will increase. This will require cooperation, forming coalitions with other disciplines, and embracing new technologies. Already, GIS, GPS, new computer apps, and data programs are changing the way we do our work and increasing efficiency and accuracy as well. Researchers have connected trees and tree canopy cover to  new sectors, such as public health, economic growth, and community resilience. It is an exciting time to be an arborist, because we can see how important our industry is becoming.

The 2017 Annual Conference provides an opportunity to explore how we can benefit by networking and associating with others, and hear about the latest scientific developments and technological advancements in arboriculture and urban forestry. The annual conference provides great value-for-dollar when you consider the number of presenters, the depth and breadth of their knowledge, the diversity of topics, and the opportunity to interact and network with other arborists and allied professionals. The trade show is also a big draw because all of the latest technologies and services are there for you to see and consider. We invite you to join us and look forward to you being part of the future narrative.

I’m proud of this organization because of its commitment to continuing education and to professionalism. Our success is largely due to the WCISA Board, its committees and committee chairs, our business partners, and volunteers for dedicating their time and energy to furthering the work of our organization, and, of course, Rose Epperson and Epicenter. There are many changes and challenges ahead for our organization and industry, but I’m optimistic that we will rise to whatever challenges we face. Our Strategic Plan provides a good ‘road map’ to help all of us all move forward.

Lisa Smith


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