Outlook Winter 2022

By Rose Epperson on Friday, December 30, 2022

It’s always great to find ways to refill my cup. This last quarter I filled my cup with knowledge and gratitude. I took some time to consider my own leadership tools and how to add to them and share them with others. Chalk it up to a desire for continued growth and lifelong learning but, to be honest, filling up your cup can also be really fun. This outlook column is filled with words of wisdom from friends and colleagues that I picked up over the last couple of months. I just had to share them in hopes that they resonate with you like they did with me.

We had a great regional conference in Anaheim with the Commercial Arborist Committee leading the conversation focused on best practices. It was wonderful to hear their perspective on leadership and managing crews with safety and teamwork at the center of the equation. Of course, I took away a few pearls of wisdom from the day. Our kickoff speaker, Bill Owen with Monarch Tree Service, struck me with “Words are free - use them.” It reminded me how important verbal communication is – not only for safety reasons, but in every aspect of our work (and personal life too). I loved Lawrence Schultz’s “Better fuel in your tool” as a prescription for taking care of our bodies (including what we put in them) during his talk on maintenance for a climber’s body. Davey Resource Group’s Jessika Mitchell drove it home with a discussion on culture in the workplace – “Ask, Listen, Reflect, Act”.  I left with strategies to create a stronger, healthier workplace – it really echoed with me.

I also had the opportunity to attend “Lead with Trees,” the annual conference of the California Urban Forests Council in Rancho Mirage where Dr. Matt Ritter was one of the keynote speakers. Once again, I was blown away by the quality and breadth of the content and programming. I was joined by Western Chapter ISA Council Representative Ken Knight for the event. I always love Matt Ritter’s perspective on the urban forest and even though we have been friends and colleagues for more than a decade, I still took away a couple of new concepts that made me think (and smile). The first was “Trees define our sense of place.” That rang so true with me personally and, when viewed with a larger lens, spoke volumes about our community forests and other natural spaces. Matt referred to the urban forest as a “zoo of rare species” and “conservatories for the world’s biodiversity.” I was truly inspired to make the world a better place – one tree at a time (of course)!

For the first time since  2019, it was great to be back live for the ISA leadership Conference in Atlanta. I had the opportunity to share the experience with President Daniel Goyette and Vice President Sara Maitland. We took the conference as an opportunity to strengthen our leadership acumen for the chapter and to build an even stronger bond with leaders from all over the world. We met on the campus of Georgia Tech. There’s always something inspirational about being on or near a college campus; the feeling of lifelong learning is greater than the history of the grounds seems to allude.   Keynote speaker, BJ Colvin provide a good point during his in depth session on Board and Staff Relations.  BJ said, “the Board and Executive Director are like twin engines of a jet – working in unison to move upward (and forward.” – yes, another good take away for my collection

One thing I really enjoy about the ISA Leadership Conference is it gives me a chance to meet face-to-face with other executive directors that share similar job responsibilities as me. We always share pearls of wisdom, shortcuts, and all kinds of good information. That, coupled with the opportunity to meet with the ISA staff, made for a wonderful week. It was really a melting pot. We spent time with the leaders from AMA (Mexico’s Arborist Association), delegates from Hong Kong and visited with ISA President Chris Walsh from New Zealand. Isn’t that amazing? I love the international aspect of the event. Daniel shares his take-aways from the ISA Membership Survey in his column. Suffice to say, we found incredible value in the experience.

I finished off my fall “thirst for knowledge” journey with the Diversity and Inclusion Summit led by Deanna Singh and Justin Ponder of Uplifting Impact. And, yes, I took away a few more pearls. During those two days, I discovered that diversity, equity, and inclusion are about more than race. It boils down to meeting people “where they are” and recognizing humanity – even within our own beings. It was captivating to consider the impact of building bridges. One of my 2023 goals is to understand these concepts better and work toward development of policies and practices that encourage inclusion. Deanna summed it up with a quote bMatthew Rehrl, MD, MS (which, of course, I jotted down) “Don’t try to boil the ocean.” Simply put, create a boundary and focus your energy. That’s the ticket. Baby steps, big results.

As we put 2022 to rest and begin to look at the coming year, I want to encourage our membership to consider your own knowledge base. Take inventory and take notes. I remain grateful for the opportunity to build and grow along with the membership – it really does fill my cup.

Cheers to Trees in 2023.