You’ve been UAA Executive Director for a little less than half the year. Can you share any thoughts about your experience so far?
I thought I knew how much was happening with the UAA when I was on the outside looking in. Now as the association’s leader, I’m amazed at how many great things are taking place and the impact of our volunteers. There is tremendous excitement surrounding the secondary educational institutions taking notice of the industry and using UAA driven materials to deliver formalized and standardized educational opportunities. The Board of Governors of the Utility Vegetation Management Professional Development Program (UVMPDP) has been actively engaged with technical colleges and universities to monitor student success and strong programs. These volunteers are helping to shape the trajectory of our future leaders in utility arboriculture.
What accomplishments are you most proud of since joining the organization just a few short months ago?
I’m proud of what has already been accomplished by a small staff and some solid volunteers. I have not been in this role long enough to take credit for any of the large accomplishments that we’ve met in 2021. I am confident that we have the right people in place to steer the UAA and the industry into the future.
Trees & Utilities brought people together in-person for the first time in two years. What was it like to be in Minneapolis this year?
T&U is one of UAA’s premier events and it felt good to be back in person, even if we have not yet returned to pre-pandemic attendance. I know many people wanted to be there, but were unable to travel. While everyone has managed virtual meetings incredibly well over the past two years, one important aspect of a conference is networking. Learning from each other and meeting in person is something I value and definitely missed.
Any interesting takeaways from this major event?
This year, I learned more about how community-based programs could play a part in helping the industry close the worker shortage gap. There seems to be a potential connection in this space that may be complimentary to other recruitment initiatives. We saw many new faces in the crowd, in the exhibit hall and those presenting this fall. To me, that’s an indication of external groups recognizing the potential in our space for their products and influences. This will be something to watch in the future.