President's Letter: Reframing Leadership

September 10, 2021

When FNGLA Past President Ed Bravo called to ask if I would serve as the 2019-2020 FNGLA Secretary/Treasurer, I remember asking a lot of questions about the responsibility of the role. Since many of us live our lives in a state of constant overload, we tend to think of leadership in terms of “what will I have to do.” Can I afford to withdraw more time from an already overdrawn schedule? 

Last week, I was reminded of the privileges which come along with leadership. As I reflect on our industry’s opportunity to come “Together Again” for The Landscape Show, I can’t help but think of all the things I got to do as this year’s FNGLA President. I got to experience pride in our Association as the show floor came to life.  Congratulations to our staff and The Landscape Show Committee for putting together an excellent event despite the challenges we are all still facing from COVID-19. You all did a fantastic job! 

On Wednesday, along with my colleague and tradeshow committee chair, JB Toorish, I got to celebrate with exhibitors as we handed out booth awards – congratulations again to all the winners! I got to introduce FNGLA CEO Ben Bolusky to reflect on his career and share leadership tips with fellow Wedgworth Leadership Institute alumni. At the Opening Day Reception, I got to network with industry friends and leaders who came to me with their ideas to continue supporting our FNGLA members. 

On Thursday, I got to meet with new exhibitors who are leading the charge in automation and providing labor saving tools and technologies. I got to join members of the FNGLA/FDOT Liaison Committee as we spoke with Florida State Representative Blaise Ingoglia about the importance of proper landscaping along our state roadways. I got to join the FNGLA-PAC meeting and listen to FNGLA lobbyist Jim Spratt discuss a plan for us to prepare for the 2022 election cycle amid the impacts of redistricting.

During the FNGLA Landscape Irrigation Committee Reception, I got to address a group of highly respected irrigation vendors and contractors to discuss the importance of coming together to protect the future of Florida’s water. At Tapped-In, I got to network with emerging leaders who will continue shaping our industry for years to come.

On Friday, I got to introduce Florida State Representative David Smith to several of our exhibitors and discuss our industry’s economic impact across the state and within his district. And, I got to share in celebration as the Convention Center staff bid their farewell to our beloved CEO.  

I have been exhibiting at The Landscape Show for over 10 years, but this year, I got to experience the show from a new perspective. I got to see some of the many ways FNGLA is working to protect and promote the future of Florida’s nursery and landscape industry.

When we focus on the things we have to do, it’s easy to find reason to not get involved. “I have young kids.” “Work is too busy.” “I don’t have the staff…” Perhaps, as leaders, if we spend more time sharing the things we get to do, instead of lamenting about the things we have to do, we’ll find an easier task of recruiting new leaders to join the charge.


All the best,


Sarah Spatola


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