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That's a Wrap!
A Look at Associations in 2015

Between relentless advocacy efforts, countless awards, celebrations of milestones and flourishing trade shows, 2015 was an eventful year for industry associations. LC/DBM checked in with some national and state associations to give you a glimpse into their 2015 highlights.

National Associations

This has been a year of evolution and growth for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, beginning with its rebranding in the spring from the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). The rebranding not only included a new name and look for the association that will help it resonate with the public, but it also led to a new strategic plan that focuses on the areas that members identified as most important: education, advocacy, and professionalism.

National Association of Landscape Professionals
"The past year was one of exceptional change and growth for the National Association of Landscape Professionals that puts us in a great position to help drive the direction of the industry and lead the conversation about the importance of managed landscapes.

NALP invested in advocacy outreach this year, adding a vice president of public affairs to staff and launching a Public Affairs Advisory Council to oversee our government relations work to ensure that we aggressively fight for better legislation and regulations. Major initiatives included working to defeat the Waters of the U.S. rule, joining efforts to fight road blocks put up against the H-2B program, fighting guidelines that limit turfgrass, and grassroots efforts to defeat local pesticide and blower bans.

We also launched a major new initiative called the Industry Growth Initiative, a national consumer public relations and marketing campaign to promote managed landscapes to the public and careers in the industry. NALP focused on increasing professionalism in the industry. The Landscape Industry Certified program now has more than 5,000 certified professionals in its ranks. Additionally, we will be launching a company accreditation program within the next two years.

NALP rebranded a few of its signature events, including the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (formerly Student Career Days), which is held each spring. Last March, 800 students from more than 60 colleges competed at North Carolina State University and interviewed for jobs with the industry's top companies. The association's top executive education event, Great Escape, has been rebranded and reimagined as Leaders Forum. The event in 2015 was held at the Atlantis in the Bahamas. In 2016, NALP will partner with Cornell's Johnson School of Management to provide education in Los Cabos, Mexico, in February." - Sabeena Hickman, NALP CEO

The International Society of Arboriculture held an Arbor Fair & Expo focusing on public education and equipment demonstrations in conjunction with the International Tree Climbing Championship on March 21-22 in Tampa, Fla. The event drew more than 500 attendees with 75 volunteers and 58 competitors representing more than 18 countries.

In addition to the international competition, ISA held three regional tree climbing competitions in 2015: the European Tree Climbing Championship in Monza, Italy on July 4 and 5; Asia Pacific Tree Climbing Championship in Singapore on July 25 and 26; and the North American Tree Climbing Championship in Longmont, Colo., on September 19 and 20.

International Society of Arboriculture
ISA had a productive 2015, with multiple events, awards, and changes to existing programs.

ISA partnered with the Florida Chapter and the Florida Urban Forestry Council to hold "The Cost of Not Maintaining Trees" Symposium in Tampa on March 18 and 19, gathering nearly 200 attendees. Additionally, over 1,400 arborists from around the world gathered "Where the Trees Meet the Seas" at the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, August 8-12. The conference offered five days of educational and networking opportunities and the opportunity to earn up to 27 CEUs. The 2015 ISA Awards of Distinction were presented at the conference opening ceremony Sunday, August 9. Nine deserving professionals were recognized for their contributions to the arboriculture industry.

ISA temporarily suspended the administration of the Board Certified Master Arborist exam in June of this year to allow time to work on improving the overall exam experience and provide a more fluid transition to a new exam. ISA recruited eligible candidates for beta testing in October. Results from this testing are being evaluated to determine next steps in the new exam process.

In September, ISA and the Western Chapter ISA announced the merger of their Certified Tree Worker programs. ISA and WCISA made the collaborative decision that combining forces will increase capacity, improve overall services, and expand the global impact of this credential. The organizations are working to make the transition smooth, continuous, and without service disruption.

The expansion of the Professional Grounds Management Society's School of Grounds Management (SGM) program was developed to offer grounds managers education opportunities outside of the annual SGM held at GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Ky. Its launch began with a trip to the University of California, Davis with a conference theme centered on water conservation for landscapes and sports fields. Attendees visited one of the best private gardens in Northern California, Maple Rock Garden and Farm. Only open four days a year to the public, conference attendees took a private tour of the gardens to see how owner Scott Paris has significantly reduced his water consumption while keeping the 30-acre estate in pristine condition.

PGMS honored grounds professionals and institutions with the presentation of numerous awards during the Society's annual awards dinner at the School of Grounds Management & GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Ky. Awards included the President's Award, the PGMS Gold Medal, and the E. Earl Wilson Award. Additionally, PGMS recognizes grounds superintendents responsible for maintaining a well-manicured landscape year round through the Green Star Awards. Grand, Honor and Merit Awards are offered in 10 categories, covering all types of private, public commercial and industrial landscapes. Of the 30+ Green Star Awards applicants, six institutions were honored with Grand Awards.

Professional Grounds Management Society
The Certified Grounds Manager designation is widely recognized throughout the grounds management industry. Individuals who complete this rigorous program show their commitment to the grounds profession and to personal and professional development.

With the addition of nine new CGMs in 2015 and another 20 in the process, the CGM certification continues to provide grounds professionals the opportunity to develop, evaluate, and sharpen their skills and knowledge.

Taking over 2 1/2 years to develop, the PGMS Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation program provides institutions an intense strategic evaluation of their grounds operation. PGMS Accreditations are awarded based on a 200-point evaluation system and a four-star recognition system. 2015 saw the accreditation of two campuses: a 4-star accreditation to Western Michigan University and a 3-star accreditation to Georgia Institute of Technology.

International Erosion Control Association, Region One
IECA hosted the 46th annual Environmental Connection conference and expo in Portland, Ore., in February, co-located with the Industrial Fabrics Association's Geosynthetics 2015. Environmental Connection is the largest gathering of erosion and sediment control professionals from around the world. With an overall attendance of over 2,700, this was one of the most attended IECA events in recent history. IECA hosts this conference and expo every February.

The SOIL Fund, IECA's charitable arm, provides technical assistance for programs and projects that address soil erosion and sedimentation through applied technology, education, and research. This summer, thanks to the fund, Rebecca Kauten with IECA's Great Rivers Chapter spent time in Sweden to learn about unique research conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology on the impacts of road salt to water quality. By learning about the intricacies of the Swedish salinity model, she hopes to develop a similar approach to determine vulnerability of U.S. water sources to contamination from road salts.

Each year, the Sports Turf Managers Association recognizes its members through a variety of awards and contests. In November, STMA and Minor League Baseball selected the "Sports Turf Manager of the Year" award winners, presented at the Winter Meetings in Nashville in December. The winner in the Single-A Division, pictured, is Parkview field in Fort Wayne, Ind., managed by Keith Winter. In late October, STMA kicked off its third annual "Mowing Patterns" contest and the best design will be selected in late 2015. Finally, the highly popular "Field of the Year" award winners will be announced in December and officially recognized at the conference in San Diego.

In January, the association hosted their annual Conference & Exhibition in Denver. The four-day event was highlighted by a record 200 exhibitors and 1,200 attendees from nine countries. The popular "Seminar on Wheels Tour" showcased various professional, collegiate and youth sports fields in the region. The organization looks forward to its 27th annual conference January 19-22, 2016 in San Diego.

Sports Turf Managers Association
In 2015, the Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields (SAFE) - STMA's charitable arm - crafted five field safety videos, offering guidelines to preserve safe and playable baseball, football, soccer and softball fields and facilities.

In addition, SAFE raised almost $15,000 during the annual conference to benefit educational programs, scholarships and grants that enrich communities through safe, sustainable fields for all athletes.

Launching in 2016, the association will offer an environmental facility certification program. Additionally, the Turfgrass Science Curriculum was created to provide educators with lessons to introduce students to the industry. The initiative provides a platform for students pursuing a college degree in the green industry. A second version of the curriculum was also developed as a continuing education resource for members.

The Irrigation Association held their annual trade show, co-located with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association trade show, at the Long Beach Convention Center in November. There were about 4,000 attendees over the two-day expo, themed "Waves of Innovation." The 2016 show will be Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, partnered with the National Groundwater Association.

Irrigation Association
Lenise Phillips, the communications manager for the Irrigation Association, said that in 2015 her organization was very involved with California's Model Water-Efficient Landscape Ordinance to make sure that the irrigation industry was well represented. At their annual trade show in November, IA launched their Tailgate Training program, which is designed to educate crewmembers on-site for much less cost than traditional training. The association also worked to revise the certified irrigation designer testing process, an effort that is continuing.

State Associations

Due to ongoing drought in the state, the Utah Nursery and Landscape Association re-released their six-point "Landscape Water Policy Statement":

o In urban areas, the landscape and the environment are one and the same; as such, the landscape should be fostered and maintained.
o Proper water management is water conservation.
o People should be able to choose landscapes and plants based on personal preference, not water requirements.
o Education and appropriate water pricing will lead to balance between conservation and using water well.
o Water conservation should be shared by all water users.
o Landscape irrigation is not a waste of water. Improper irrigation is.

Due to ongoing drought in the state, the For the 2015 Arbor Day of Service, the Massachusetts Arborists Association had more than 75 volunteers give their time and services at several locations throughout the state, including schools, parks, and nature preserves. The 2016 event will take place on April 22; project registrations and solicitation of volunteers will begin in January.

The Western Nursery and Landscape Association celebrated 125 years in 2015, and held an Anniversary Reception at the annual Western Trade Show in January.

Also celebrating a milestone in 2015 was the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. To honor their 90th anniversary, the Northern Green Expo hosted an anniversary party with special events such as a raffle.

The Texas Irrigation Association, formerly the Texas Turf Irrigation Association, celebrated its 50th anniversary and changed its name in 2015.

At their annual meeting in February, the Virginia Green Industry Council voted to terminate operations effective June 30, 2015, due to a lack of participation, new leadership, and support. The association's final cash assets were split equally between two state scholarship endowment funds.

The Nevada Landscape Association testified at the Nevada Drought Forum on July 17. Association President Heidi Kratsch put forth the following main points:
o Removing hard-to-irrigate turf areas from landscapes helps save water.
o Removing entire lawns and replacing them with hardscapes or rocks can damage the landscape and increase the heat island effect.
o Turfgrass requires less water than most people apply.
o Most existing irrigation systems are outdated and therefore inefficient.
o New irrigation technologies can increase efficiency.
o Education is critical to greater water efficiency.

The Southern Nursery Association elected new officers for the 2015-2016 year at their 117th annual meeting. From left to right: Front row: Michael Hobbs, President, Warren County Nursery, McMinnville, Tenn.; Dusty Knight, Vice President/Treasurer/Director Chapter 4, Plantation Tree Company, Selma, Ala. Back row: Rickey Minton, Director Chapter 3, Triangle Nursery, McMinnville, Tenn.; Richard May, Immediate Past President, May Nursery, Havana, Fla.; Norman Cole III, Director Chapter 1, Cole Nurseries, Pipestern, W.Va.; Joseph Napoli, Director Chapter 2, Athens Wholesale Nursery, Athens, Ga.; Karen Summers, Interim Executive Vice President.

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