It was a busy fall for regional meetings in Ohio and New York, and a Safety Summit in Bath, Pennsylvania.
We caught up with the following UAA members for a conversation on why these events are well worth the time.
- James Maloney, Lead Supervisor, https://member.gotouaa.org/events/event_list.aspNational Grid
- Duane Dickinson, VM Senior Strategy Specialist, National Grid
- Frank McGraw, Forestry Supervisor, FirstEnergy
- Chris Gaston, Supervisor – Division 27, Lewis Tree Service
In-person events made a comeback for UAA this year. Tell us how well they were received.
Frank – “Our turnout at the Ohio Regional Meeting may have been lower than expected, but that allowed for the Q&A sessions to become group discussions. People seemed to get a lot more out of our events this year for that reason.”
Duane – “We had about 50 people at the New York Regional Meeting. I think everyone was happy to finally get back to meeting in person. There was a significant amount of socializing and getting caught up on the past two years of events.”
Chris – “We always like to see more people at our safety summits. This year, there were a lot of compliments about the experience. It was more personable and hands-on, especially being outdoors at the Graver Arboretum. It was an incredibly open location for learning.”
What were the issues first and foremost on the minds of industry professionals this year?
James – Employees! It was the main discussion for New York attendees, especially how to keep them.”
Frank – “We shared topics relevant to what’s going on in the industry. There are different reasons why people leave the profession, so how do we attract people? And what can utilities do to help? So, we hosted a 90-minute group discussion with a panel of utility forestry managers about worker recruitment and retention. We talked about the tree pests in Ohio, especially the new species that are causing problems. And we learned about EHOVE, an Ohio career center with a utility arborist accredited program. There were some passionate debates about the industry’s future.”
Chris – “The focus is always on safety at our summits, and it’s really brought to the core the messages across the incidents, including chipper accidents, being struck by trees and more. It’s a serious problem and we’re here to figure it out and you correct it. Drive the message to smaller groups, and you’ll get a bigger presence of the safety message getting out there and get to the bottom of it.”
If you had 15 seconds to tell UAA members why they should attend regional events and safety summits, what would you say?
Duane – “I think it helps utility-related workers feel they are part of something bigger and more significant. Regional meetings are a great place to see industry professionals face-to-face. The event is valuable for making connections along with education and CEU’s for those who have difficulty acquiring them.”
Chris – “I got involved to learn more about the industry and keep my team safe. I would encourage anybody and everybody to sign up for a safety summit to learn from each other. It’s an industry, a brother and sisterhood out there. The new ideas and safety measures that we pick up are beneficial to us. Communication in the industry helps us get better.”
Frank – “These events connect utility arborists and foresters with other professionals and opens up the lines of communication. I met a gentleman this year who recently rolled out a work management software program. I can collaborate with him on the project because we’re doing it next year. That kind of networking is invaluable.”
James – “Join us for the networking without the stress of working. And it will make Diona (Neeser) really happy.”