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Les Day, Safety Director for Mountain F. Enterprises, Inc. (MFE) made the trip to the 2022 UAA Western Regional Meeting – just as he has several times over the years. He has high praise for the event, which serves as a great way for vegetation management professionals to come together outside the normal work environment.

“We were all there for the same reason,” Day says. “To learn something and reconnect, and perhaps leave with some new tools in the box.”

Day credits the field day as not-to-miss. The MFE demonstration of specialized tree handling equipment for removing trees was especially worthwhile since many had not seen the equipment in operation up-close, or had been to a biomass power plant such as the Rio Bravo Rocklin (Biomass Power Plant), or witnessed the drone technology demonstrated by the Davey Resource Group. “Having the right field day for attendants is critical,” he maintains.

“Just like the Safety Summits, regional meetings are important to our industry,” Day says, “and I attend other regional events all over the country. I want to see if we’re experiencing the same things here on the West Coast as on the East Coast. Is the technology the same or different? People are curious about that. There’s a lot of common things we share regardless of where we work.”

Lindsey Boyle, an Expert Land Consultant-Property Management for PG&E, appreciated the event was geared toward field personnel and their preference for hands-on learning.

“We were on this precipice looking out over the wood management area on the yard at MFE and everything was fully visible,” Boyle recalls. “It showed us the process involved in transforming wood to power – from start to finish – and how we can be good stewards of that wood material.

“Working for PG&E, I like to see the challenges other utilities are facing. And you don’t get to do that unless you leave your little bubble. At this regional meeting, some women from Arizona presented on their wood management processes and shared what they are doing for native tribes in their state. I was inspired by them. If I hadn’t attended this event, I don’t know where I would have been able to learn what other utilities are doing.”

Boyle co-hosted this year’s event along with Darrell Daniel, Program Manager of Vegetation Management in Grid Assets for SMUD. Daniel sent out registration to all employees in his department – and several of them attended for the first time. One of them was Vegetation Work Planner Colette Christensen.

“I have always wanted to go, so I really appreciated that field people like me were allowed to attend,” says Christensen. “It was interesting to hear about the different companies and their business practices, the new projects underway based on the climate concerns and updates to the vegetation industry. I met some terrific people, including other women in the industry, and got to learn about their journeys. It’s a great way to make connections for the future.”

Christensen says it was such a good experience that she now plans to be a regular at the Western Regional. It’s exactly what Darrell Daniel was hoping to achieve for her and others at his company.

“The greatest benefit is the networking and the ability to connect with peers – not just locally – but to resource information from others to support a local resolution for any challenges and see opportunities both in the presentations and in general conversation with one another,” says Daniel. “This is the knowledge you won’t have access to unless you attend. You don’t have that connection unless you come and build it, and see up close the solutions they are implementing.”