Outlook Summer 2021

By Rose Epperson on Thursday, July 1, 2021

Outlook Summer 2021 – Big Trees / Big Fun

The last 65 weeks have taught us all so much about patience, acceptance, self-care and the importance of community. Early on, I took the mindset of “roll with it” – do the best we can and keep on trucking! Now that we are turning a corner as a society, I look back with pride at our agility and ability to be able to provide a variety of experiences for the membership over the past year to keep everyone engaged and educated.

Right now, we typically would be gearing up for the California State Fair with the TreeCircus where “big fun never grows old.” It will be our second summer on hiatus from one of the chapter’s favorite community education events. This year, we took a lesson from 2020 and got creative. In spring of 2021 we embarked on a “Virtual Tree Circus Experience” where we shared the gifts of trees with elementary school children throughout California. Since March 7th – California Arbor Day – we have hosted 1173 attendees in seven individual programs. The program consists of a 30-minute taped presentation, followed by an additional 30 minutes of questions and answers in a “meet and greet” format. We launched with a show focused on Arbor Day and the importance of books, learning, and the discovery of the natural world around us. Additional shows are being developed based on fire-wise landscaping, drought, and wildlife topics – and of course they all ask the questions “what do trees give us?” Tim Womick and Grayson Keating do not disappoint – the shows have all been well received and sometimes cause a bit of a ruckus – imagine 240 3rd graders on Zoom! Shows will continue through the end of 2021. If you want to bring the TreeCircus to your child’s school, check out the show information on page 5 or contact Rita Franco, rita@wcisa.net.

2021 marked our 14th Annual Britton Fund Ride. This year, Britton Fund Chair Doug Anderson was determined to create a memorable experience for riders, and that he did. Knowing well in advance that the conference was not going to be able to take place in Humboldt County, Doug took the reins and started planning (perhaps with his fingers crossed that the event would indeed be able to take place) a live event. The event took place on May 17th. Coined the “Avenue of the Giants Redwood Tour,” participants followed an established route that had options for both novice and expert riders. From all accounts the route was breathtaking. Big trees, beautiful vistas, and tons of camaraderie. You can read about it from the rider’s point of view in Ian Kesterson’s article on page 74. The Britton Fund is grateful for the generosity of the sponsors, the daring of the riders, and the assistance of the Support Team of Dana Fines (Dallas), Helen Stone (Hayfork), and Greg Hill (Toronto). With 27 riders, the tour raised over $33,000.00 for research and education in the west. Congratulations to all involved with this once in a lifetime experience.

We kept the theme of “big trees and big fun” going as we built our 2nd virtual conference. “Far Out Arboriculture” was a smashing success. With over 290 participants in 28 sessions, the program was informative, innovative, and packed with interesting subject matter. Holding a conference online is a bit of a gamble – especially 15 months into a pandemic when most everyone is “zoomed out.” Once again, we got creative. It’s always fun for me to take the President’s vision and work with the local committee to bring it to life. This year we didn’t hold anything back. Instead of a series of prerecorded talks, our program committee called for as much live programming as possible. All the speakers were just phenomenal. So much good stuff packed into a few days! Thanks to Igor Lacan, Gordon Matassa, and Scott Baker for the great collection of talent.

The entire event was curated not only for educational aspects, but for the social interaction as well. . Chat rooms and social lounges were available throughout the event to bring people together – both one on one and in groups. The event kicked off with a great exhibitor showcase where attendees had time dedicated to the exhibits without having to choose between that and educational programming. President Jimi Scheid called the official meeting to order with our traditional annual business meeting. So much great stuff happening at the committee level – I hope you read their annual reports included in this issue. If you want to get involved in one of the committees, reach out to the chair. Each report includes the chair’s contact information; they are all great folks with lots of information to share.

All of our “after hours” events allowed attendees to keep the conversation going. Monday night’s “Whittling in the virtual woods” event was led by TREE Fund Liaison Alison Lancaster, along with artesian Lou Cifuentes from Street Tree Revival. It was a fun, conversational exploration of working with wood (in this case shamel ash). Built as a fundraiser for the TREE Fund, viewers had the opportunity to donate to the fund during the event – netting $490.00 total. Tuesday we changed things up a bit with a hosted beer tasting from local Humboldt County brewery Lost Coast. Brewmaster Keith Welsh walked the group through six really tasty offerings – many of the beers were new to the group so it made for a fun experience. Amelia from California Releaf added her own fun twist with a series of trivia rounds from beers to bark and all subjects in between that had everyone laughing and enjoying the evening. The big fun didn’t stop there – on Wednesday attendees were treated to a live streamed concert from the Arcadia Playhouse with local band Absynth Quartet. The sound and staging were so amazing – it was like were we all right there. I want to thank Kelaine Ravdin and the entire conference committee for their work on this event – we honestly brough the big trees to the attendees. President Scheid’s dream came through – a big win for all of us but mostly for the attendees! Thanks to my amazing team at Epicenter for their work in bringing the conference to life.

We also celebrated our annual awards recipients for 2020. I’d like to thank Awards Committee chair Rebecca Senior for a great program once again this year. Special mention is deserved for our Award of Merit recipient Walt Warriner. Walt is an amazing volunteer leader for the Chapter. He served as President in 2002. He took us “beyond the canopy” by holding his conference in Ensenada Mexico (by way of the Pacific Ocean). Always on the cutting edge, Walt has continued to serve the Chapter as the chair of the Nominations Committee and Finance Committee – not to mention serving on NUFAC and as an instructor and mentor for the Society of Municipal Arboriculture’s MFI and other programing. Walt never stops and we are boy are we glad! He keeps the Chapter headed in the right direction with healthy investments and a growing collection or wonderful new leaders. It was also great to see Dan Simpson recognized as an Honorary Life Member for his work in the San Diego area. Dan is a constant voice for trees in the southernmost part of California. His talks and presentations continue to enrich the professional lives of so many arborists. Please make sure to visit the collages in the centerfold of this issue to read about all our award recipients.

Each summer marks a changing of the guard for the Western Chapter. July 1st our incoming leadership will take office and we will begin working on the events and programing for the coming year. Our leadership change is always bittersweet. This year, I had the privilege to work side by side with Jimi “Redwood” Scheid. He brought his A game and a series of goals that were intended to bring clarity and structure to the chapter’s operations. Watching Jimi grow this year has been a highlight for me. He had to make a few concessions along the way, and he met each challenge with vision and creativity. We finalized our strategic plan, reviewed our committee structure and guidelines, and strengthened the relationship between committees and their board and staff liaisons. We accomplished a lot - and all from the comforts of our own home offices! Congratulations, Jimi, on a job well done. I also look forward to the opportunity to work with Doug Wildman in the coming year.

As we settle back into face-to-face programing, we will continue to focus on bringing the best experience to the membership – not only in professional growth and continuing education but in community involvement as well. Stay tuned for more big trees and big fun.

Have a safe summer!