by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP
Your NHLA membership brings many different benefits, and you each have chosen to support NHLA for the reasons you felt were most important. Some readers or members may also be NHLA Certified Landscape Professionals, and that designation brings with it a certain workload to maintain the certified status as well as its own rewards.
One of the rewards we hear about most often is the unmeasurable “camaraderie” present during the Joint Winter Meeting, the March Conference, and the various Twilight Meetings throughout the summer. To actually meet people with whom you may only exchange e-mails, phone calls, or follow Instagram accounts, and to share professional development opportunities during in-person events, means a stronger network for everyone! We are keenly aware of the upheaval from the pandemic and the adjustments made in every aspect of business, field work, and recreation.
We are learning different things about the coronavirus nearly daily, making predicting the future of our events more difficult. The Education Committee, working with the NHLA Board, has determined we’ll pursue virtual presentations, via Zoom, with the responses we reviewed from the surveys returned to us. Heartfelt THANKS to the members who volunteered to offer a presentation – we’ll be working to solicit input and create the schedule for those in the coming weeks. They will be announced through Constant Contact e-mail as well as in this Newsletter, based on the Newsletter deadlines in the coming months.
The Joint Winter Meeting will take a new format. Those details are led largely by UNH Cooperative Extension, with our interest and support. This is important for you to know now, so you can plan accordingly. It’s important for the landscapers to know the full one-credit option for attending the Joint Winter Meeting will not be an opportunity we can offer in January 2021. A shortened format is in the works and will be announced as details are available. We don’t know what credentialing will look like for the 2021 cycle, so it will be incumbent upon the NHCLPs to seek re-certification options knowing this full credit in January for that one day-long event is not slated. The Certification Committee will be the go-to for working with you on your folio of credits, as usual, with the Education Committee able to help you find re-certification opportunities.
Professional development is essential for our face to the public, adhering to the most up-to-date best management practices and implementing the current research for our work with customers and accounts. At press time for this issue of the Newsletter, we are unsure of the March conference and what it may look like. This is not all meant to be gloom and doom, by any means! The most exciting news to come from the Board and Education Committee lies ahead, with work beginning to research what a late summer event could look like, encompassing working partners and growing relationships with businesses and organizations directly related to the landscapers throughout NH! Imagine being able to convene, in a brand-new venue, with both indoor and outdoor opportunities, and a time set aside at the conclusion of the day or days, (yes, this could be spread over two days!) for the socializing, no matter what shape “socializing” may take in nine months.
Please take time to seek information from vetted, reliable sources on your own, and if you have questions, your Certification Coordinator and I are ready to help you verify options. In previous issues of the Newsletter, you can find extensive listings of organizations to check out on your own. Here is a quick overview of sources for webinars you may want to review and see what could be of interest to your or your company and crews:
Check your vendors and brands they represent. Many of them are turning to Zoom, Facebook Live, or in-house filming of topics they would otherwise introduce at trade shows or to you, as you may have had in-person, customer-specific events in the past. These presentations are intended to introduce you to new products, new safety features, and new applications available through their brands.
Check government sources. Multi-session courses, and on-off webinar presentations are offered through both New Hampshire and Federal government sources. From the NH Department of Environmental Services, Coastal Adaptations Workgroup, and other stormwater runoff study groups, you can learn a lot about how to mitigate drought conditions and what is involved in protecting the watersheds and keeping our water clean and safe. The USDA website is chock full of tabs where you can find info to follow for pollinators, meadow protection, soil health, and soil mitigation techniques. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what these types of sources offer. OSHA is a resource for health, safety and wellness online workshops, which will offer landscapers accurate information as we enter the cold weather and conditions winter brings. Check out hypothermia signs and preventions, for instance, and consider ensuring your crew members are all aware as they are facing long, long days and nights snow plowing.
UNH Cooperative Extension has gone digital with informative presentations. Consider joining their newsletter subscriptions to learn about their Facebook live presentations on topics such as pruning techniques, no-till drills for planting bulbs, growing small fruits, research on fig trees, and various production techniques for plants your customers will be asking about. While there’s no substitute for in-person demonstrations for some of the topics we’re used to, the Extension staff have gone to great lengths to offer timely, and lively, demos and informative webinars.
Public Gardens, Arboretum sites, and Commercial Growers offer online tours and informative presentations about “plants of the year” and current design trends. Do a cursory search of sites in these categories and see what they are offering for “Adult Education,” “Community Outreach,” “Online Courses,” as a quick example of where to look. Organizations related to our work as landscapers include professional development opportunities, also.
Here’s hoping you are ready for the pivot to online learning and what the exposure to information from many, many sources can mean to your professional development and growth opportunities. Stay ahead of your customers’ changing lifestyle habits and see what they are learning online, too. We’re excited to be planning nearly a year ahead, while cautiously optimistic for the plans we’re brainstorming near-term.