Greetings to all attendees of the WCISA 84th Annual Conference and Trade Show! For those that could spend some time in beautiful Santa Rosa, I think it can be safely said that the conference was not only rewarding educationally and from a networking and relationship-building standpoint, but allowed for a very relaxed environment in which to take in all the sights and sounds.
The diverse array of presenters, talks and exhibitors were hopefully as varied as the backgrounds and interests of our attendees. Elements of tree care, forest management, utility and post-fire assessments, consulting, marketing, cutting-edge research and benefits of trees were but a handful of areas covered to keep the speaking and networking sessions interesting. Combined with the pre and post-conference events (the field day at Bennett Valley Golf Club and the tour at Santa Rosa Junior College), I think that an interesting variety of settings and focus areas were provided throughout our week together to ensure that all our members’ interests were accounted for.
A big shout out to all that were able to raise money for tree research and to those that gave back to our host city while we were there. As usual, the Britton Fund bike ride, silent auction, golf outing and 50/50 sales, combined, were very prodigious in the attention drawn and funds generated to improve the knowledge and understanding of what trees can provide our communities. A special thanks to the Britton Fund for the generous donation to the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation and the Mayor of Santa Rosa for restoring areas of the community devastated by wildfire. This gratitude extends to those willing volunteers and arborists that came out to Fountaingrove before the conference to lend a hand and their skills to plant hundreds of needed trees with the California Urban Forests Council, the Arbor Day Foundation and Comcast in areas ravaged by October’s flames. It truly is inspiring to see our industry make a difference and remember their roots.
A thanks to the leadership that played instrumental roles in making this year’s event a success. The tireless efforts of Epicenter Management cannot be overstated. They are truly the engine that could when it comes to planning for and pulling off an undertaking of this magnitude; the details of which are numerous and cannot be fully acknowledged here. The board of directors and committees that assist in organizing and collaborating for this yearly charge cannot be forgotten either. The leadership that ushered in the conference, and all the steps leading up to it are integral in its success.
A tip of the hat, as well, to the wonderful, communicative and assistive staff at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country hotel that made our stay as smooth and efficient as possible. The consolidated and complete nature of the floorplan, meals, vendors, entertainment and networking programs made for a very digestible format on both foot and stomach. How about those beer options??!!
As mentioned in my opening remarks at the conference, I acted as but a figurehead, a ring-leader so to speak, for the volumes of work being done by those involved in the many conference committees throughout the last year. The amount of not only work conducted, but the passion, pride and professionalism exuded by all the volunteers involved is humbling to say the least. To see such a complex plan come to life over those many months with nary a hitch is truly a testament to the many talents of our membership; a caring group of individuals that were able to put some of their regular duties on hold in order to collaborate across their unique disciplines to see the job done and, importantly, to ensure that you, the membership, left feeling satisfied. The outpouring of thanks I personally received during the event was overwhelming and hard to take in given the actual efforts put in by the assemblage of committee supporters. Please do think about sending them a sign of your appreciation as well if you did not have a chance to do it in Santa Rosa. They are the backbone of the 2018 conference.
Furthermore, if you really want to show your support, consider serving on an annual conference committee in the future or, if not, look into lending your talents to any of the many productive Administrative, Obligatory, Standing or Optional Committees that realize the goals of our Chapter throughout each year. Our organization is only as strong as the contributions of its members to it, and by extension, each other. Please consider making a small gesture of your time and energy to advance this organization and the professional practices we all endorse.
The thanks are many for those that supported me in serving as the 2018 Annual Conference Chair. Chief amongst these thanks would be to outgoing President Rick Gessner and Executive Director Rose Epperson for inviting me to serve in this role in the first place. It was indeed an opportunity for personal growth and an experience I won’t soon forget in as much as the execution of the conference itself. I hope that those of you that spent time in Sonoma County this past April came away with lasting impressions of value as you reentered your duties closer to home. For those that were not able to make it, you most definitely missed out! Hopefully though, we will see you all in Hawaii next year!