Outlook Winter 2018 - Heroes and Friends

By Rose Epperson on Thursday, December 27, 2018

Outlook: Celebrating heroes and friends


Two prominent members, legends in the industry, recently passed away: Bailey Hudson and Bob Berlin passed away in October. I first met Bailey, the original “Euc” man, when I was just out of high school. And although he was not big in stature, he was larger than life to me, a young, impressionable person determined to become an arborist. He was one of several mentors that I had over the years, and I greatly admired him. Bailey served as chapter president in 1982 and went on to serve as ISA president in 2003 to 2004. Safe work practices were of utmost importance to Bailey…during his career with the city of Santa Maria he had his crews to doing calisthenics every morning as part of their normal work routine. During his term with ISA he traveled over 250,000 miles promoting the value of trees and the need for science-based arboriculture, adherence to professional tree care standards, and helping to build enduring relationships with tree care associations around the world. 

Later that month, I received a call from Al Remyn, a good friend and mentor, breaking the news that Robert Berlin had passed away. Bob was one of the best people in the industry that I know. Like Richard Harris, Bob was retired when I first met him. He had worked for the city of South Pasadena for many years. My training in arboriculture began under his guidance. I have to add though, that Mel Sease, Frenchy Garrigue, Al Remyn helped me develop lasting leadership skills. These arborists who embodied professionalism, took an interest in me, provided support, guidance, and shared their expertise with me. They were the best, and I’m indebted to them. I know it’s a bit sappy, but I refer to them as my own “Tree-roes” heroes. Bob lived a full life surrounded by the people he respected while doing the work he loved. He was a distinguished alumnus of California State Polytechnic University in Pomona CA, where he studied ornamental horticulture and graduated in 1952. He spent most of his career with the City of South Pasadena and was instrumental in founding Street Tree Seminar, Inc., the local regional forest council in Los Angeles/Orange Counties. He served as president of the Western Chapter in 1977. Like Bailey, Bob also served as ISA president in 1982 and 1983. He received many awards throughout his long career, including the ISA Award of Merit in 1995.    

What I’ve learned for these “Legends of Arboriculture” is that work isn’t always about the  job; it’s really about the people you meet, and the ‘footprint’ you’ll leave when you’re gone ? actually the influence you’ve had on shaping the industry, and the good will you’ve created along the way. I was fortunate to have such supportive mentors and feel as though I’m walking in their shoes, so to speak.  I hope to leave a similar legacy one day.  ISA has a great video on youtube that celebrates many of our heroes.  Check it out:  https://youtu.be/TzU0-k6VxFw

This October, Western Chapter Board Member, Doug Wildman and I traveled for the last time to Champaign, Ill for the ISA Leadership Conference. Every fall, ISA brings together volunteer leaders from around the world. The purpose of the workshop is to build leadership skills and for all participants to connect with other attending arborists from around the globe. For me, the high point of the conference was meeting Liina Jurisoo from Estonia, ISA’s newest associate organization.     

The ISA office, as you may know, will be moving its headquarters to Atlanta this winter. Many of the current staff will not be relocating. As part of the leadership celebration this year an American beech tree was planted at Leal Park, a two-acre park in Urbana, Illinois to honor the service, contribution, and history of ISA in the area. The Greek Revival Cottage at the park, that served as ISA’s Headquarters from 1988-1992, will now become the home of the Urbana Parks Department. ISA is leaving a remarkable legacy in Champaign/Urbana. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to so many colleagues who have, become friends, but I know they will flourish whereever their next professional journey takes them. 

We continue to celebrate Alex Shigo’s considerable legacy with our #treemythtuesday social media campaign. Each Tuesday, we post one of Alex’s infamous “tree myths” across our social media portals. It has become very popular, and has been a fun way to remember the influential and widely respected researcher, writer, and lecturer. He left a truly remarkable legacy that fundamentally changed the practice of arboriculture. His life’s work now serves as the foundation for modern arboriculture. Others have advanced the science of Arboriculture as well, and others will follow them. The comments that arise out of the weekly posts are quite interesting to follow.  If you haven’t seen them – make sure to “like” the Western Chapter ISA on FaceBook and Instagram – you don’t want to miss out on the fun!

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Alliance for Community Trees conference in November.  ACT Day is a precursor to the Partners in Community Forestry Conference. This year 431 PCF attendees, representing all 50 states, in addition to American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands were welcomed to Irvine, California. It was so encouraging to hear what the local urban forestry community has been doing and are planning. Nearly 500 people attended the conference throughout the week. Closer to home, our partner organization, California Urban Forests Council celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. The Regional Councils were formed in 2000 after the Urban Forestry Summit at The Huntington Library, as part of an extensive list of desires and deliverables from all levels of folks participating in UCF across CA. Today there are 7 regional councils throughout the state. CaUFC has interviewed urban forestry leaders from across the State discovering the history of the movement over the past many decades and will be releasing the interviews soon to the public. A 50th birthday haiku contest was held and the submittals from all over CA were amazing. The Britton Fund has partnered with CaUFC to create a 2019 calendar of the Haiku entries with the proceeds going to California Community Foundation for California Wildfire Relief.

The 2019 WCISA conference program committee has developed an exciting program and the list of speakers is noteworthy. I’m thrilled that Cecil Konijnendijk a renowned urban forestry researcher at the University of British Columbia, will be the keynote speaker.  His topic: A sinking ship or cruising towards bright horizons: The bigger picture of pests and diseases in urban forestry will make for a great opening session. I expect this meeting to be filled with engaging subjects aimed at providing practical solutions and useful insights for attendees. The local committee in Honolulu is adding a touch of Aloha to the event and our chapter administrative team has their eye on the best airfare deals – which they will be sharing through social media.  Keep an eye on www.wcisaconnect.com for all the latest developments.

After the holidays, we will convene an ad hoc committee to begin a search for editor and design team for the Western Arborist. They say “all good things must come to an end” – and the legacy that Bruce and Linda Hagen have built in the Western Arborist magazine is one for the annals. The Hagens have been on the job for more than two decades, and have given so much dedication to the chapter. We want to make sure we honor them and their work by building the best succession plan possible. Being the forward thinker that Bruce is, he began sharing his thoughts on succession planning two years ago.  Of course, I tried to put it off as long as possible! All kidding aside, the committee will do a thorough job in making sure all bases are covered.

I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than doing the work that I do. I am supported by the amazing team at Epicenter Management, as well as strong volunteer leadership. Together we strive to expand programming, and provide the other services members need.  I’m looking forward to the new year. I know there will challenges, as well as opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.  That’s what keeps me going.

Cheers to our heroes and friends – close to home and around the world!

Rose Epperson