Outlook Winter 2023

By Rose Epperson on Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Western Chapter is celebrating its 90th year. It’s a celebration of caring for trees and people in concert. The bonus of caring for the urban forests where we live, work, and play has been icing on the cake. Having spent more than three decades as a volunteer before transitioning to the staff side of WCISA, I have had the unique opportunity to witness firsthand the critical role that both staff and volunteers have played in the success of the chapter through the years. The blend of these two groups is not just beneficial, but essential, to the function and growth of the chapter.

Volunteering offers a significant return on investment for those members who dedicate their time and energy. One of the most immediate benefits is the opportunity for skill development. Whether it's learning something new or enhancing existing abilities, volunteering can serve as a practical training ground for various skills.

Another key benefit is the chance to build a professional network. Colleagues I have met while volunteering, and later staffing, WCISA events make up my “village.” Lifelong friendships have been forged in meeting rooms and lunch lines. Volunteering often brings together a diverse group of individuals, each with their own unique experiences and perspectives. This provides a rich environment for networking, which can open doors to new career opportunities or collaborations.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering is the personal satisfaction it brings. Through the years, I have found a deep sense of fulfillment in giving back to the chapter and contributing to a cause I am passionate about. This sense of purpose and achievement has had a positive impact on my overall well-being and life satisfaction. I can’t help but thank my mentors, WCISA Past Presidents Al Remyn and Dr. Richard Harris to name a couple, for introducing me early on to “a life of service.”

For me, the return on investment for time spent volunteering goes beyond tangible benefits. It's been an enriching experience that offers personal growth, professional development, and a sense of purpose and community. Not to mention, a husband! It’s true, I met my husband volunteering at the Tree Climbing Championship! Thirty-five years later, we still volunteer every year at the event. We’ve built a community through the years that have become family…. We call it our “treemily.”

I love the diverse perspective I have as part of the chapter administration. Staff and volunteers bring different perspectives to the table. My team, with their in-depth knowledge of the organization's operations, provide stability and continuity. Volunteers, on the other hand, often come from varied backgrounds and disciplines, bringing fresh ideas and innovative approaches. This diversity fosters creativity and allows for a rich exchange of skills and knowledge. Staff can provide volunteers with training and insights into the organization's operations, while volunteers can share their unique skills and experiences. This mutual learning environment enhances the overall competency of the chapter.

The Western Chapter is built on volunteers. Our volunteers significantly expand the chapter’s capacity to deliver on its mission. They provide additional manpower at events, contribute to projects, and often take on leadership roles. This allows staff to focus on the logistics (nuts and bolts), ensuring the chapter runs smoothly and effectively.

One of the things I enjoy most about the mix of staff and volunteers is the vibrant and dynamic culture we have built over the years. Staff provide consistency and institutional memory, while volunteers bring enthusiasm and passion. This blend has created a positive and engaging environment that motivates everyone to contribute their best.

The mix of staff and volunteers is the lifeblood of the chapter. It brings together diverse perspectives, enhances skills, increases capacity, fosters community engagement, ensures sustainability, and enriches the organizational culture. As someone who has experienced both sides, I can attest to the immense value that this synergy brings. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and shared commitment to a common goal.

So, whether you're looking to give back, grow personally, or connect with your community, consider volunteering. It's a win-win situation that enriches lives and makes the world a better place – one tree at a time. I look forward to celebrating this milestone with you in San Diego in May.

Let’s make memories!

All the best,