First, chiefly to the men out there: Valentine's Day is Wednesday, February 14. You’ve been warned... make it special! We all put in long hours and hard work to grow and maintain the world's greatest plant materials and landscapes. Yet, please take the time to let the loves in your life know how special they are to you.
As for FNGLA, February is shaping up to be another extremely busy month. Post- TPIE and its success, your FNGLA staff and state volunteer leaders are full-throttle on some very interesting and impactful initiatives. FNGLA’s Knowledge College Committee met on February 9 to work on educational programs. FNGLA’s Membership and Marketing Committee meets on February 20. Thank you to those who participated in the recent member benefits survey so FNGLA knows how to serve you even better. More to come on this in the months ahead. And, FNGLA’s state Board of Directors meets on February 21.
As I write this column, I’m in my hotel room in Jacksonville where I’m attending the FNGLA Northeast Chapter's Jacksonville Landscape Show. It may be small in scale compared to TPIE or TLS, yet it’s every bit as impactful, warm, gracious and a boon for those participating. If you haven't attended, be sure to put it on your schedule for next year. The Northeast Chapter is well known for its hospitality at this event and it may interest you to know the show’s proceeds are used to fund many scholarships and community programs for kids.
FNGLA’s state officers (aka "The Amigos”) will visit FNGLA’s Broward Chapter social on February 22. To be held at Parrish Gardens, it will be a roundtable of local members and nonmembers to discuss trends, needs, business practices, and generally aid one another. The mission of FNGLA is "... to promote and protect the interests of Florida’s nursery and landscape industry." FNGLA’s Broward Chapter is doing just that. I encourage each of our chapters consider holding a meeting each year utilizing this type of interactive format.
The host committee of my FNGLA Frontrunners Chapter, FNGLA’s Royal Palm Chapter volunteer leaders, and Linda Adams (FNGLA’s stalwart COO) are finalizing your upcoming annual FNGLA convention experience in Bonita Springs. I never make a promise I can’t keep, yet I guarantee this year will be special! We are very excited about this year's venue and events and I am so proud of their efforts.
Lastly, and arguably, the biggest challenge continuing to impact all sectors of our industry is labor. As we all know, Washington, D.C. is, well, dysfunctional at best. As much as I would love to report (and we are working on it), comprehensive immigration reform is a unicorn.
So, how do we make headway? Well, what do we do for a living? We grow! Your FNGLA staff, passionate chapter leaders, such as Stefan Liopiros, and political leaders, such as Adam Putnam, are looking to "grow" future team members for each of us. Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is keen on starting vocational programs as early as middle school!
Merry Mott and Linda Reindl of FNGLA’s staff are working tirelessly to liaison with FFA programs and their influential teachers to drive young future employees our direction. And, FNGLA Past President Billy Butterfield is working with a group of Orange County political leaders to roll out pilot agriculture programs (including horticulture) with a sharp focus on career development.
Very exciting solutions and your help is needed! We will not be able to lean on others to solve this problem. There is no magic bullet. We - individually and together with our FNGLA chapters - need to invest our time, products and expertise to make these initiatives work on local levels to impact our future workforce.
With just under four months remaining in my year as FNGLA president, please let me know if there is anything further I can do to better serve you.