Content Marketing Panel to Present at the 2017 TOCA Fireside Chat

In a world this busy, no one has time for boring content. This year’s TOCA Fireside Chat, sponsored by Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, will feature a talented panel of green industry communicators with advice on creating content marketing that wows! The event will take place Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center during the Irrigation Show and Education Conference.

TOCA is excited to welcome this year’s panelists, members Jason Schmaderer of Swanson Russell, Tessa Riess of Hunter Industries and Bethany Chambers of North Coast Media.

“Each communicator has a unique focus, with agency, corporate and editorial perspectives represented,” said Lacy Ravencraft, TOCA Board President. The panelists will share tips and general information on how to effectively wield the powerful tool that is content marketing.

If you are a communicator, or just interested in green industry communications, be sure to stop by during the Irrigation Show and prepare for a fun, information-filled hour of food, networking and the latest and greatest on content marketing!

 

TOCA and Bayer Offer Member Breakfast Reception at GIE + EXPO Meeting

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is again providing a breakfast reception at the GIE+EXPO in Louisville, KY.

Bayer sponsors the breakfast, with the room provided courtesy of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

For Whom: TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Friday, October 20, 2017

Where:  Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C112

Time: 7:30 a.m. - Bayer Press Conference
8 a.m. - TOCA Breakfast

We encourage you to bring a prospective member/guest to the breakfast. Whether or not you plan to attend, please RSVP.  Any questions, call  952-758-6340 or email to toca@gandgcomm.com.  See you in Louisville!

The 2018 Membership Drive is Coming Soon!

By Kyle Wieskus, Membership Director

In the beginning of October, all current members of TOCA will receive an email notice to renew their membership for 2018. There are always some questions and changes that need to be made to company rosters – so please don’t hesitate to send an email to me at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com or call 952-758-6340.

It was a great year for membership in 2017.  With 215+ members, TOCA membership continues to grow.  Last year’s Young Professional Membership (YP) Offer proved to be very popular and TOCA gained 11 new young professionals (YPs)!  TOCA is pleased to once again offer the Young Professional Program for 2018.  We believe that recruitment of “young professionals” (those 35 and under) leads to the successful continued growth of TOCA. We are excited to once again offer to organizations (any current member company, association, agency, etc.) with two or more paying members in 2018 the opportunity to receive one free, young professional membership to a new TOCA member.

By making membership accessible and affordable for YPs, there are three distinct groups benefit:

  • TOCAbenefits as an organization by growing in numbers and our communications contest award applications; the organization is positioned for future success and longevity by introducing younger members into the community.
  • Member companies and organizationsare able to potentially recruit new talent and develop the abilities of their YP workforce.
  • YPswill see TOCA as a community of mentors, capable of providing them with industry specific skills, strategies and connections they cannot find elsewhere.

Thanks in advance for your membership renewal and let’s all do our part to grow our association!

TOCA members attend Cultivate ’17 and work to put the “O” back in TOCA.

In TOCA's continued attempts to put the "O" back in TOCA, Russ Warner, GIE Media, made the trip out to Columbus, Ohio, for the Cultivate show. Brochures specifically targeting the ornamental market were available at the GIE Media, Bayer and Syngenta booths.  Leslie Halleck, Halleck Horticultural Inc., was a speaker at the conference and also promoted TOCA membership.

In addition to the booth copies, members walked around handing out copies and talking TOCA.  "All in all I think it was a very worthwhile event for TOCA.  I definitely recommend that we do the same in years to come and continue to talk about the benefits of ornamental companies joining our organization," said Warner.

In addition to Cultivate, the GIE Media Ornamental team handed out brochures at the Far West show in Portland, OR, in August.

TOCA extends a hearty thank you to members Russ Warner, Pat Morrow, Laurie Riggs and Leslie Halleck for inviting communicators in the ornamental market to join TOCA.

Member News

TOCA members can provide news to TOCA Talk by emailing Den Gardner. 

New TOCA members offer data for members

New members Jon Miducki and Matt Yaske of MRDS recently joined TOCA and profess to house the deepest, most current, accurate and continually updated database of landscape contractors, lawncare operators, golf course superintendents, nurseries and greenhouses in the country.

The Ankeny, Iowa, company, MarketReach Data Services, Inc. is a full service data development, data hygiene, data management and data integration company serving the turf and ornamental, ag and mining markets.   Matt headed out on his own about 10 years ago after more than 20 years as circulation director for a major ag publisher, followed by a GM role for a large data services provider. The company actively works with basic chemical and equipment suppliers in the ag industry and develops (under contract) the primary ag data feed for the largest ag media company in the United States. Contact Matt at myaske@mrds360.com or Jon at jmiducki@datasource360.com.


BRANDT Announces Distribution Partnership with SiteOne Landscape Supply

BRANDT, a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the turf, agriculture and lawn and garden markets, has signed a distribution agreement with SiteOne Landscape Supply. With this agreement all BRANDT and BRANDT iHammer turf and ornamental products are now available through all SiteOne locations.

Formerly known as John Deere Landscapes, Site One is the largest landscape supply distributor in North America and currently has over 450 branches serving the landscape, nursery, golf and sports turf markets. This is BRANDT’s first national distribution agreement that covers the U.S. and Canada.

“We are very excited to partner with SiteOne,” said John Guglielmi, National Sales Director for BRANDT Specialty Formulations. “It is an excellent fit for both companies and we look forward to introducing BRANDT and BRANDT iHammer technologies to new customers throughout the US and Canada.”

BRANDT product offerings include several proprietary nutrition products, such as BRANDT Manni-Plex®, the company’s top selling foliar nutrient line, as well as greens grade fertilizers, adjuvants, biopesticides, pond dyes, colorants and water treatment products. BRANDT iHammer product offerings include additional proprietary foliar nutrient products that enhance plant energy production and enhance turf and ornamental quality.

About BRANDT
A leadingagricultural company, BRANDT consists of three divisions—Specialty Formulations, Retail Agronomy and Dealer Support—serving growers around the globe. Founded in 1953 by Glen Brandt and his sister Evelyn Brandt Thomas to help Illinois farmers adopt new and profitable technologies, the company has experienced aggressive growth under theleadership of President and CEO Rick Brandt. BRANDT’s focus is providing the products and services that give growers the best opportunity for maximum return while building a stronger,healthier and more abundant food supply.

For more information, visit BRANDT on the web at: www.brandt.co.

Fall Running Tips and Motivation: “Your sweat is your fat crying. Keep it up.”

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

It’s time to enjoy the beautiful fall days and what could be better than a good run (or walk)?  Enjoy a newly colored route and stay in shape!  Running in cool weather is so exhilarating.

Here are some fall running tips:

TOCA Running Club

*  It’s probably time to check your shoes.  The tread may be worn from your summer work and who doesn’t like to go shopping for a new pair of shoes?

*  Because you no longer need to avoid the heat of the day by running early in the morning – unless that is something you like to do – get some extra sleep in the morning and do your run in the late afternoon.  If you are semi-retired like me, do the middle of the day.  NICE.

*  Even though you are not sweating as much, you still need to hydrate.  A famous CC coach once said, “Your sweat is your fat crying.  Keep it up.”

*  As fall wears on, keep an eye on the weather.  Rain and/or strong winds can make for a tough run.  Watch for puddles and even some slippery conditions.

*  As you enjoy the beautiful fall colors, be sure you dress properly.  You may also want to have a pair of gloves handy.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com - your TOCA Running Editor.  I have a multitude of ideas and my advice is free (and I’m getting a little lonesome for someone – anyone – to ask me something . . . .).

Finally - to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be - keep that brain working as you get very much needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Syngenta Welcomes Back Golf – TurfNet’s 2016 Olympic Golf Blog

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

Syngenta Welcomes Back Golf - TurfNet's 2016 Olympic Golf Blog
Gardner Award Winner for New Media -- Publishing
by Scott Covelli, TOCA professional development committee

We asked Jon Kiger, of TurfNet, the following questions:

Please briefly describe your winning project.

Our Gardner Award winning project “Syngenta Welcomes Back Golf” was a multimedia blog covering the return of the sport of golf to the Olympics after over 100 years. The blog included written posts, photos, podcasts and videos. We wanted to cover the history of golf in the Olympics, the current state of the golf market in Brazil (from both the player and superintendent perspective), the design, building and maintenance of the course, and of course the competition for Men’s and Women’s medals.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

It was such a multi-faceted project that we wanted it to take the form of a documentary series more than a traditional written blog with photos. I believe we succeeded in that regard.

We wanted to put golf’s return to the Olympics in the proper historical perspective by looking back at the last time golf was an Olympic sport in 1904. We traveled to St. Louis and filmed a video at Glen Echo Country Club with longtime TurfNet member Joe Wachter.

Golf is taken for granted in the US, but has very little participation and history in Brazil so we wanted to look at as many aspects of the game as possible in the context of current day Brazil. Since this was being produced at TurfNet we knew it had to include the basics of course design, maintenance and volunteer tournament preparation. We were likely the only turf media on the ground in Rio, so we wanted to present enough information that the golf industry back home would want to know while watching the competition.

What influenced your approach?

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would cover once I got to Rio, so we were careful to create enough background coverage in advance of my arrival that the blog put golf in Brazil and the Olympics in the proper context.

We did this primarily through the Glen Echo Country Club video mentioned above and through podcasts on the competitors (Golfweek’s Alex Micelli), the architecture of the course (Brad Klein), and our interview with TurfNet member and Brazil native Rick Holanda. Rick described life as a superintendent in a country with so few golf courses.

We were in Rio for several days before the start of the Olympic golf competition. I was always on the lookout for interesting stories to tell about the Games in general or about golf in particular. At the field hockey/rugby venue, they had an introduction to golf demonstration area using oversized kids clubs. I took photos of the area and interviewed a newcomer to the game.

Jon Kiger, right, with his son David at the Rio Olympics golf tournament.

My son David was working hospitality for NBC and arrived a week before the opening ceremonies. The only venue they were allowed to see up close, as part of their security briefing/orientation, was the Olympic Golf Course. He took several photos of the advance preparation and we presented these exclusively on TurfNet.

I made contact with two Olympic Golf Course maintenance volunteers from Ireland (Eamonn McCarthy and Damien Colement) and met up with them in Rio. We did interviews with them in advance of their arrival in Rio and followed up with them about their experiences once there.

We wanted to cover as many aspects of golf’s return to the Olympics as possible so that anyone visiting the blog could learn the whole story of this historic event in our industry.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

So many things stand out about this project but first and foremost it was our sponsor Syngenta’s vision for the concept of the blog. Without their interest in having TurfNet cover Olympic Golf for the industry, I would have been just another spectator at the event. I’m not sure they or we understood all that would go into producing it or the special content that would result. I took advantage of every opportunity to report on golf’s return to the Olympics. It was the most intense yet satisfying project in my 30+ year career.

From a logistics standpoint, WIFI and internet weren’t available to me during the day so it very much felt like an “old school/pre-cell phone” project. I would leave early in the day, spend all day at the golf course collecting material, write it back at my cousin’s house, and file everything with TurfNet’s Peter McCormick before the end of the day. Peter would format this new material for the blog and have it ready for our visitors to TurfNet each morning. The 2016 TOCA Plant Health Writer of the Year John Reitman also helped with many of the volunteer interviews and strategizing on our approach to covering an event with so many different aspects. It was a true team effort – our own decathlon if you will.

I did not have a confirmed interview with course superintendent Neil Cleverly before my arrival in Rio. When I met him and arranged an interview I was careful to read his previous interviews so as not to repeat anything already covered. Rather than discussing the design, environmental concerns, turf type, etc… I asked him about the emotional aspect of finally having the golf competition onsite and what that meant to him and his crew. Neil later commented to me that he very much appreciated that approach and capturing the moment as it unfolded in Rio.

This was my third Olympics (Atlanta 1996 and London 2012 were the others) and it was great to see Rio in the world spotlight. My mother was born in Rio and by extension my sons and I also have Brazilian citizenship. Many of her cousins and their families reside there. It was nice to meet up with (and in some cases stay) them. It was also a family affair since my son David (studying Hospitality at Cornell University at the time) was there as a VIP host for NBC. He has been with me over the years for a variety of TurfNet projects and we were together for the first day of the men’s golf competition. The photo of the two of us at the 18th green is one I will cherish forever.

I want to thank Syngenta again for the support of this Gardner Award-winning project, everyone at TurfNet for helping it come together, and all the people in Brazil and elsewhere who volunteered their time and thoughts for our content in whatever form it took.

Postscript: Much has been written about the current state of many of the Olympic venues in Rio. The Olympic Golf Course is one of the only venues that is still operating on a daily basis as planned. Many aspects of life, politics, and the economy there still need to be resolved, but for three weeks in 2016 Rio showed the world the beauty and potential of one of the world’s foremost cities. I am humbled to know that TurfNet’s coverage of golf at the Olympics played a small part in documenting this historic return of golf to the Olympic games.

“So You’re Considering the Dark Side”

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

“So You’re Considering the Dark Side”
Gardner Award Winner for Photography, Video and MultiMedia -- Publishing
by Jennifer Klemmetson, TOCA professional development committee

We asked Seth Jones, editor of Golfdom, the following questions:

Please briefly describe your winning project.

Golfdom publisher Pat Roberts suggested we do a roundtable discussion with former superintendents who have left their jobs to take sales jobs — commonly referred to as “going to the dark side.”

Five guys sitting around a table isn’t an exciting, grabbing image for the cover. So we had to get creative with the cover concept. I sketched out an image of a stressed out superintendent sitting in his office with a shadowy figure behind him, reaching out to him. I took a photo of it and texted it to our designer, Pete Seltzer (he lives in Ohio, I’m in Kansas) and asked him if he thought an illustration like this would work for the cover, if we found the right artist. He liked the idea and went on the hunt for the perfect artist. He found James Bennett (JamesBennettArt.com), a talented artist who has done covers for Sports IllustratedGolf Digest and Mad magazine, among others.

When the image came back from James, I knew right away that we had something special.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

People do judge books by their covers. Every month I want Golfdom to have the best, most eye-catching cover in the industry. My concern is always this: if we have a boring cover, people won’t be compelled to open the magazine and read it. What’s the point in doing all that work on the content inside the magazine if we don’t compel the reader to open the magazine as soon as he/she gets it?

I wrote the story, it was done, I thought it was a solid Q&A. But without the right cover image, we risk the reader setting the magazine in the “to read later” pile on the desk… and they may never come back to the magazine again.

So my main objective — as it is every month with our cover — was to have a cover that made the reader want to open the magazine as soon as he or she received it.

What influenced your approach?

People who know me know that I’m a big popular culture/science fiction fan. I was out on the golf course last week and one of my playing partners thought it was hilarious that my wallet has Batman on it. My two other playing partners were not surprised at all (and in case you’re wondering, I do rotate wallets between Batman, Captain America and Spider-Man.)

I thought readers would enjoy the popular culture reference of Golfdom tipping its cap to the dark side.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

The cover was 100% original… it was not a stock art image, or some cover that relied on words in funky fonts to spell out for readers what was inside. It was a cover that we imagined, then commissioned, hiring a “big deal” artist to do the artwork. I think when our readers see something like that, it makes them take notice that Golfdom isn’t messing around… we want their time and attention, and we’re willing to make significant investments in order to earn their time and attention.

All credit goes to Bennett, the artist, and Seltzer, the designer, for taking my lousy sketch and turning it into a real work of art.

Honest Stories about Surviving Setbacks

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

Honest Stories about Surviving Setbacks
Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects - Publishing -- Publishing
by Jennifer Klemmetson, TOCA professional development committee

We asked Nicole Wisniewski, Editorial Director, Grand View Media the following questions about the October 2016 issue of Turf magazine:

Please briefly describe your winning project. 

This issue involved a special research and reporting project where I sought out readers who had suffered major setbacks in business and successfully came back from them. The research helped confirm how readers cope with issues like this. This project was near and dear to me as a writer and reporter because I learned so much from the people I interviewed and I knew their lessons learned would help readers.

What were your main objectives in developing this project? 

According to research I found, only 56 percent of agriculture businesses and 55 percent of service businesses survive after their first four years in business. We wanted to showcase stories of businesses that survived some of the worst setbacks to help readers realize how they can do this as well. After all, those who realize setbacks are simply part of business usually find a way to thrive, while those who dwell on problems routinely falter.

What influenced your approach? 

I was extremely inspired interviewing the four landscapers featured in the main story. I don’t know what impressed me more: how honest and open they were about their stories, how incredibly courageous they were in fighting their fears or how unwavering their positivity was despite the setbacks they endured. Their stories moved me, and I wanted to share them to encourage readers.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry. 

The very personal, open and honest stories readers shared with me about their business setbacks and how they came back strong. One business owner lost a client that made up a majority of his business, one survived a partnership gone wrong, one lost a loved one and folded his business as a result of grief and then reopened it later, and the fourth business owner nearly lost his home as result of poor business finances.

2017 TOCA Media Intern: Ireland will forever shape my professional opportunities

By Martin Richardson, TOCA media intern with TurfNet.com

The time I’ve spent in Ireland this past summer as the 2017 TOCA media intern was one of the best opportunities of my life. I have had so many rich experiences and opportunities that I personally believe will forever shape and influence my professional life while fostering personal growth and development. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about a new country including their values, traditions and beliefs while meeting many fantastic people. For me, these achievements are the direct result of the effort invested in me by the partnership between TurfNet, TOCA and Bayer.

Bray Head cliff walk in Co. Wicklow.

This internship has provided invaluable hands-on training and experience through the participation in my daily tasks and projects that allow for the practical application of my academic knowledge and the development of course maintenance skills necessary for a career in turf management. As a member of the grounds crew at The Island Golf Course in Donabate, Ireland, I worked side by side with other coworkers for the preparation of a links course from day-to-day play all the way to professional tournament play. Additionally, I felt that I was able to contribute to the course by assisting coworkers, offering my experiences, and working on projects throughout the summer.

Most of my days were spent at The Island where my supervisor, Dave Edmondson, and fellow coworkers, Mark, Kevin, Mitchell, Jordan, Keith, and Pat taught me the processes for maintaining a links course. But I also really appreciated that Dave provided me independence and times where I was given opportunities to offer my opinion, discuss my past experiences, and make decisions. All in all, it was fascinating to see how the elements and course conditions of this country are intertwined to create a beautiful yet challenging golf courses. Everything is taken into perspective including the Irish Sea, the dunes, the grasses and grounds native to this country. It was so interesting to learn how there are differences and commonalities compared to my work experience in Minnesota at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Marty, shown at left, with the rest of the TurfNet Team volunteering for the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open the first week in July. They had to go home after the event while Marty had more time in Ireland!

While I was able to learn a lot from my position at The Island, my most memorable experiences were four tournaments this past summer. I worked on the grounds crew at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club, the (British) Open’s  Regional Qualifier Tournament and Captains Day both at The Island Golf Club, and I attended the British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. These tournaments gave me first-hand insight to the amazing courses in Ireland and the UK. They also enlightened me on the hard work that goes into maintaining a links style golf course. Waking up at 4 am just to get to the course to prepare for the day to start.  Then back again at 5 pm to prep the course for the next day.  It was all well worth the long days to see a beautiful product come together and to see some of the world’s best players on the courses I helped prepare.

Marty Richardson is on his way out to mow tees during his time as a volunteer at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club.

In addition to working hard on these tournaments, I’ve developed personally in my communication, written and interpersonal skills. Part of my internship was writing a weekly blog. Before now, writing was not a strong suit of mine. I enjoyed improving my writing skills through meetings and editing sessions with Jon Kiger, John Reitman and Peter McCormick of TurfNet. They were an enormous help in giving me stellar guidance as to what to write and how to describe things for my blog. By the end of the summer my blogs improved and they did not need as much editing before being posted on TurfNet. Back home members of my family enjoyed reading the blog and it was through it that they could follow my activities on an almost daily basis.

Another exciting part of my personal development has been the expansion of my networking skills. From the very beginning of this process when the superintendent at Hazeltine, Chris Tritabaugh, introduced me to Mike O’Keefe from Ohio State International Internships Program, to the annual TOCA meeting where I met suppliers, agencies, media representatives and TOCA staff members through this summer where I connected with many locals on and off the golf courses, it has confirmed to me how genuinely nice all people are no matter where they are from. It has taught me patience, understanding and the appreciation of my listening skills when trying to understand what they are trying to convey to me. I am now able to meet people more openly and I’ve also learned how a good “pint” can bring many together and break the ice to a conversation that’s more exaggerated and fun.

Internships provide practical lessons but also encouragement, inspiration, and role models for upcoming generations. This summer program has provided me significant opportunities for networking from superintendents, golfers of all ranks, media writers like Karl Hansell a Communications Executive at BIGGA, to industry organization leaders like Jon Kiger and John Reitman of TurfNet; Mike O’Keefe from Ohio State; Den Gardner and Kristy Mach from TOCA, and Jose Milan and Pat Morrow from Bayer.

As for being an intern, I have a couple of suggestions for future interns to make this the best experience possible. First, is to have an open mind and be willing to have new experiences. Being adaptable for learning new situations and meeting new people are a must for success. It’s important to understand the reasoning behind their processes and procedures. The second is to make sure that you put in as much as you can into the internship. The more you put in to this experience and allow yourself to open up and take all of it in, the more you will get out of the experience.

Overall, my internship in Ireland has been a success and has offered me a tremendous opportunity to grow and develop. It has propelled me to be able to overcome challenges and develop my career in turf management. I was able to gain practical skills, work at and visit many fantastic courses, and make connections that will last a lifetime. I will be able to apply these to my career and life, I could not be more thankful to all of you that have been with me throughout this journey one way or another.

Read Marty's Blog here.

The Queen City Set to Provide the Royal Treatment to TOCA Members in 2018

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Les Nessman (at left) and the entire WKRP radio crew.

Les Nessman, famous on-air personality for the fictitious television series “WKRP in Cincinnati” in the late 1970s and early 1980s (yes, I know some of you young professionals weren’t born yet), said it best about our exciting news of the 2018 meeting coming to Cincy.

Simply put, his sign-off phrase after each broadcast was: “This is Les Nessman saying good day, and may the good news be yours.”

Although you may not have watched WKRP even if you were alive and well during that hey-day of serial television, one thing is clear: It is good news for TOCA as we visit our third city in Ohio in our 29 years of annual meetings. First it was Columbus in 1993, second Cleveland in 1998 and now 20 years later back in Ohio.

The Queen City promises to give TOCA members the royal treatment. First, mark May 1-3, 2018, on your calendar. TOCA members will be at the historic Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza.

After our second largest meeting ever in Tampa last year, the pressure is on to bring an event to Cincinnati that meets the expectations of its members from professional development to tours to award ceremonies and much more.

The theme of the meeting is still in development. Our TOCA Program Committee of Lacy Ravencraft, Marisa Palmieri, Jon Kiger, Joe Shooner and others are developing a top-notch program.

TOCA thanks Global Prairie for handling the 2018 logo and awards program for 2018. We also appreciate GP for taking on the commitment of creating a theme for the annual get-together and staging/managing the logistics for the award program. We will have more information for you at the GIE+EXPO annual TOCA breakfast regarding the 2018 meeting.

The meeting itself will take on a familiar look for members. There is the traditional board meeting on Tuesday, May 1, in the afternoon. An optional meet and greet reception will be held Tuesday evening and first-timers to the TOCA meeting will be treated to an evening dinner, courtesy of Ewing and Focal Point Communications.  The format following Tuesday evening is:

  • Wednesday morning – meeting begins, recognition of scholarship, internship, Plant Health Writer of the Year, Environmental Communicator of the Year. and educational program
  • Wednesday afternoon – tour or golf
  • Wednesday evening – opening night reception, silent auction
  • Thursday all day – breakfast committee meetings, workshops, seminars, business meeting
  • Thursday evening – Award reception/dinner
  • Friday – Home at leisure

Wednesday afternoon will feature our usual Green Industry tour. Among the areas being considered include the Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds), plus Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. The nonprofit garden cemetery and arboretum is the fourth largest cemetery in the United States and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Says TOCA program committee member Joe Shooner of Focal Point Communications in Cincinnati: “It sounds odd, but it’s actually a really popular spot. The area is beautiful.”

For those interested in the annual golf outing, two courses are under consideration: Aston Oaks and Devou Park (actually across the river in Covington, Kentucky). More details to come on the selection for this event.

The Wednesday night reception will feature our second annual TOCA Foundation Silent Auction. After the great success in our first year in Tampa, we are excited to offer this great event again. Last year’s auction brought in more than $4,000.

Thursday presents more professional development throughout the day. The annual awards dinner and presentation of the best communications work of TOCA will conclude the activities in the evening.

The 2018 agenda will be more complete by the TOCA breakfast at GIE+EXPO in late October. Watch the TOCA website for more information in the meantime.

See you in Cincinnati in 2018!

President Lacy Ravencraft throws down a Fall Freebie Challenge

Greetings TOCA friends!

As we settle into September and are inundated by the fall flurry of activity, I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few updates and reminders to help keep TOCA top of mind.

Pedal to the Metal

We’re never going to experience the bliss of being ‘not busy’ in our varied careers, but we can certainly rely on each other for inspiration and collaboration this fall. Recognize the chances we have to rally TOCA-style for the killer combo of peer recharge + getting things done. Mark your calendars for these rapidly approaching TOCA opportunities:

  •  GIE+Expo. Don’t miss the TOCA Breakfast on Friday, October 20.  Media only members should plan to arrive at 7:30 a.m. for the Bayer press conference, and all TOCA members and guests arrive for breakfast at 8 a.m. The Green Industry & Equipment Expo runs October 18-20 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.
  • Irrigation Show & Education Conference. Next up is TOCA’s Fireside Chat at the Irrigation Show, held Wednesday, November 8 at 2 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

A Chili in the Air

Whether you’re loyal to Gold Star, Skyline, Dixie or Camp Washington, you won’t want to miss out on TOCA’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Cincinnati. Bad puns aside, I am pleased to say the program development planning is well underway. A productive kick-off call is fast evolving into an exciting lineup of topics critical to our collective business success. Special thanks to Joe Shooner, Jon Kiger, Marisa Palmieri, Kristy Mach and Den Gardner for their efforts to ensure a solid professional development schedule, with a little TOCA flair and fun! So…

Save the Date for Cincinnati! TOCA’s 29th annual meeting will be held May 1-3, 2018, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. (Those attending the GIE Expo TOCA Breakfast sponsored by Bayer will be the first to view the full schedule!)

Phone a Friend

With all of these great opportunities to gather, share ideas and collaborate on projects, remember—the more the merrier! As active contributors to the green industry communication realm, we all have awesome contacts we rely on to get the job done and get the word out. Let’s invite them into our TOCA world! For the next TOCA event you plan on attending, bring a buddy. Find someone in your circle to invite to the TOCA breakfast, Fireside Chat, Golf Industry Show breakfast or annual meeting. Take it a step further, and introduce them to a fellow TOCA member who shares the same goals. Fresh perspectives bring new ideas and create powerful connections.

Fall Freebie Challenge

I believe in the value of growing our TOCA family, and so I’d like to invite each of you to participate in my Fall Freebie Challenge. Ground rules are simple: Be one of the first five TOCA members to get three people from three different companies (excluding your own) to join TOCA in 2017, and I will personally cover the cost of your individual TOCA membership in 2018.

Thank you, TOCA friends, for all that you do. Now let’s get out there and grow! LR

TOCA Talk – Summer 2017

Summer 2017 TOCA Talk

This edition of TOCA Talk is proudly sponsored by Advanced Turf Solutions, an independent and employee-owned green industry distributor. Thank you, members of the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association, for supporting this industry through your information, education, and outreach.


The New Administration Moves In

Lack of gator sightings aside, new TOCA president Lacy Ravencraft reflects on her 13 years as a TOCA member and her new role at the helm.


TOCA Resorts to Revving it Up at Tampa Resort

More than 70 green industry communicators attended the 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting, read the meeting recap, and the direction the board is taking TOCA.

Toca Group Picture


"It’s a pain none of my colleagues will ever understand."

Karl Hansell, BIGGA communications executive and first-time meeting attendee, gives his "take" on the TOCA annual meeting.  Did we mention NASCAR?


Professional Development & Gardner Award Q&A brought to you by...

(Left to Right) Jill Odom, Dawn Rigby, Sara Bojar, Jennifer Klemmetson, and Debbie Clayton. (Not pictured, Scott Covelli)

In each issue of TOCA Talk, the TOCA Professional Development committee provides content such as:

  • Recaps of sessions at the Annual Meeting
  • Q&As with Gardner Award winners
  • Member Profiles
  • Relevant information from other professional and industry meetings.

Please let us know if you have ideas for stories or want to contribute related information to further professional development of TOCA members.

Contact: sbojar@bader-rutter.com or deborah.s.clayton@gmail.com.)


Q&A With Gardner Award Winners:

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

Going "Beyond the Paycheck" with Leslie F. Halleck

Find out how the feature article for Greenhouse Management Magazine, entitled ‘Beyond the Paycheck” outlined Leslie's personal perspectives on employee motivation and alternatives to cash compensation.  The entry took home the Gardner Award for Writing in marketing communications.

 

EPIC Creative's design for "Healthy Grow Brochure" wins Gardner Award

Because Dave Thompson's Organic Healthy Grow fertilizers go through a unique aerobic composting process, which is one of the steps of Pearl Valley Farms’ full-circle sustainability efforts, we felt it was important to provide buyers, customers and prospective buyers the background story about how it all started.

 


Professional Development

Planning for the Worst -- Communicating in a Crisis

Lisa Lochridge shares tips and information about preparing for a media crisis.  Now Director of Public Affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, she advises planning ahead for any event that could disrupt operations and/or damage the reputation or credibility of a company or publication.

Words on Writing from Peter Clark

One of the highlights from the 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting was the writing workshop hosted by Dr. Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar emeritus, musician, author, editor, and Poynter Institute writing instructor since 1979.

Mitigating Stress to Pollinators

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the decline of the bee population worldwide. Dr. Frank Wong, the Bayer CropScience senior regulatory affairs consultant and the 2017 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year, shared his insights on "Pollinators, Pesticides and Public Perceptions."

End-Users In Green Industry See Social Media as Powerful Communications Tool

The 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting held a panel discussion on how professionals in the green industry use social media and the verdict is clear: Innovative social media end-users find use of this communications tool a benefit for their business.

A Visit to the Social Media Country Club

Social media platforms and tools are evolving every day.  To help members stay ahead of the curve, Scott Covelli and Andy Parmann with EPIC Creative took TOCA to the Social Media Country Club during this year’s annual meeting. Attendees picked up their clubs (pencils) and walked through nine holes of trends, duffs and industry hole-in-ones.


Winners of the 27th Annual TOCA Communications Awards Announced

More than 443 domestic and international entries were made in the 27th annual TOCA Communications Contest.  Herewith, are the winners of the 2017 awards.


TOCA Foundation News:

TOCA announces addition of Marketing Communications internship 

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Foundation is creating a marketing internship program, beginning in 2018.  The creation of this internship complements the existing media internship, generously sponsored by Bayer and going into its sixth year.

Megan Tyminsky, University of Missouri, receives TOCA Publishers' Scholarship


TOCA Running Club

Answers to three burning running questions

Dan Gardner, special TOCA running correspondent, answers three burning questions runners have.. and recaps the largest turnout for the running club EVER!


Upcoming Events: 

Check out the upcoming Calendar of Events

“It’s a Pain None of My Colleagues Will Ever Understand”

By Karl Hansell, British International Golf Greenkeepers Association

Karl Hansell, center, takes in the education at the TOCA annual meeting.

Sat in a conference centre, just outside of Tampa, Florida, I found myself engrossed in the words of a speaker who was soliloquizing over the impact of the phrase ‘full stop’ to describe a basic punctuation mark.

It wasn’t the first time that day when I had given myself over entirely to the learning experience, nor would it be the last. My only sadness is that this was the first time since I qualified as a senior news reporter that I had encountered such a large group with the same passion for the written word that I have.

I’m jealous that you TOCA guys get to do this every year, I really am.

I work for a membership organisation, surrounded by administrators, a sales team, and experts in education. None of them are writers, and so when I get upset about a misplaced comma or the unforgivable proliferation of capital letters, sprayed almost at random throughout a text, it’s a pain none of my colleagues will ever understand.

At Saddlebrook Resort, however, I was surrounded by my peers. For once I wasn’t reporting on an event, viewing from the outside as a journalist, but rather I was able to take it all in. This was education that I knew would improve my own abilities, and the association I work for would benefit through that.

The enthusiasm and passion that seems to be a fixture of the American personality just made the entire experience that much more entertaining.

A 7am fun run? Sounds like Hell to be honest, but I was going to get involved with everything I could. During my trip Stateside I’d sampled all the local delicacies. There’d been biscuits and gravy for breakfast, a baseball game, I drank only Bud Light and I was set to go to NASCAR in a few days. What I had hoped for, but not entirely anticipated, was just how impactful the TOCA conference itself would be.

I’m an introvert at heart. I think journalists have to be as we’re listeners and if we want to be the centre of attention then it’s likely we’re getting in the way of the story. But I was enthused by the collaboration of so many people who came together out of a genuine desire to improve their own abilities. All day, right through until the evening events, I found myself chatting away about many different things to so many different guys – both in a professional capacity, and just out of curiosity. Our cultures are so similar, which makes the differences all the more fascinating and I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming to me. Really, you guys were fantastic.

From hearing about a band named Little Chicago, to explaining the concept of relegation in soccer and laughing at THAT Russian Mafia story, almost without effort I made some fantastic friendships. I can only imagine the sort of bonds you’d develop if you were able to attend each year.

Honestly, I’m envious.

Winners of the 27th Annual TOCA Communications Awards Announced

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators (TOCA) Award held its 28th annual meeting in Tampa, Florida on May 4, 2017 and named the winners of its 27th annual communications contest for marketing and publishing. There were more than 443 domestic and international entries in this year’s contest.

TOCA recognizes members for excellence in writing, design, photography/AV, new media and special projects. The top winners from the marketing and publishing categories are named as Gardner Award winners.

Click here to view this year’s first place, merit and Gardner Award winners.

Planning for the Worst — Communicating in a Crisis

by Debbie Clayton

At the 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting, Lisa Lochridge shared tips and information about preparing for a media crisis.  A former reporter and editor for the Orlando Sentinel, and a former PR professional in Maitland, Florida, Lochridge is now Director of Public Affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

She advises planning ahead for any event that could disrupt operations and/or damage the reputation or credibility of a company or publication. Planning helps define the potential impact, identify the damage and put policies and measures in place. She cited examples:

  • United Airlines PR Crisis
  • Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion
  • Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak
  • Salmonella Outbreak in Peppers

Successful crisis management requires early detection, free flow of information within the company and a good plan. Goals should include protecting public health, safeguarding quality and value of product, protecting your brand and returning to normal operations as quickly as possible, thereby shortening the life cycle of the crisis.

A good crisis management plan:

  • Includes what you will say, how you will say it, to whom and when
  • Should be reviewed and revised annually (at least)
  • Can be used to drill your employees
  • Assembles team ahead of time and includes the COO, PR Director, Quality control officer, HR, legal counsel, consultants and more

Lochridge recommends developing a list of key responsibilities, creating a checklist for the first 24 hours and updating contact information for all team members. Responsibilities should include media monitoring and developing a phone script and call log for the receptionist.

Know your objectives, decide on the most important points to get across and develop two or three ways to say them. Decide what you don't want to say and what you will say only if asked.

An apology is a critical part of crisis management --- if warranted. But there are right and wrong ways to apologize. Don't do what the BP CEO did and make it about yourself. A good apology should express authentic regret.

Other apology tips include:

  • Use appropriate tone and language
  • Choose an acceptable venue
  • Act in the right timeframe
  • Announce next steps

A Visit to the Social Media Country Club

By Sara Bojar

Most of us are active on social media in some form, whether it be professionally or personally. And just like technology, things are constantly evolving. To help us stay ahead of the curve, Scott Covelli and Andy Parmann with EPIC Creative took TOCA to the Social Media Country Club during this year’s annual meeting. We all picked up our clubs (pencils) and walked through nine holes of trends, duffs and industry hole-in-ones. Check out this recap for tips you can use year-round:

Hole One – Social Media Platforms

These include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat.

Hole Two – Case Study Hole-in-Ones

Next we learned about several successful social media case studies. These included Mower Madness; the 450 Live Press Conference for Steiner tractors; blog, Facebook and Twitter activity from Dow AgroSciences; and the SiteOne Social Media Launch. It’s always great to learn from our peers!

Hole Three – Case Study Duffs

Here we learned some of the correct ways to react when tragedy strikes. It’s important to do your homework and ensure your message is relevant and tasteful.

Hole Four – Social Media Copy Tips

Use original copy in your posts. Less copy can mean more clicks, but stay away from click bait. Entice your audience without tricking them.

Hole Five – Traffic Drivers

Let’s show customers how a product will make their life better. Go beyond the features and benefits. It’s also important to choose sponsored or boosted posts wisely. When you’re putting money behind a post, have an objective.

Hole Six – Engagement Drivers

Video content, user-generated content and timely information are all ways we can help drive traffic and increase engagement.

Hole Seven – Video Highlights

We heard a lot about the importance of videos during this session. Some examples included 360-video, aerial video, reviews and interviews and third-party content.

Hole Eight – Industry Trends & News

People like to keep up with trends, and in social media that includes snaps and stories in Instagram, sharing real-time content through Twitter and streaming content through platforms, such as Spotify, Pandora and Audible.

Hole Nine – Social Advertising

To help reach your target audience, social advertising is a great option. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapshot all offer different choices to meet your needs.

For more tips and trends, you can find Scott and Andy on Twitter at @ScottCovelli and @andyparmann.

End-Users In Green Industry See Social Media as Powerful Communications Tool

by Jill Odom

The 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting held a panel discussion on how professionals in the green industry use social media and the verdict is clear: Innovative social media end-users find use of this communications tool a benefit for their business.

Brandon Richey, golf course superintendent for Lake Nona, Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake Inc., Rick Orr, owner of APL Lawn Spraying, and Matt Bruderek, head groundskeeper of Orlando City FC, all participated.

The four discussed how they first got involved with social media and what they started using social media for businesswise. Richey found Twitter was a platform for sharing ideas and discussing products with other superintendents.

Sallin liked to use his company’s social media to foster good will with potential customers and found that Facebook was one of the best ways to reach his Hispanic workers.

Orr started off with a blog answering customers’ concerns and questions, and Bruderek uses Twitter to discuss new products, as well as reach fans of the football club.

When asked when they knew what a powerful tool social media is, Bruderek realized it when his social media usage was brought up during an interview. Sallin found he was getting a different profile of applicants when he started using Facebook as a recruiting tool.

Orr found his website had far greater reach than he knew when people from outside his St. Petersburg, Florida-area began calling him about having him come spray their lawn.

From the landscaping business to the golf course industries the sharing of knowledge is very different on social media. The golf course superintendents use Twitter as a huge support network where they share what works and what doesn’t in an effort to bring the golf course industry up as a whole.

On the lawn care and landscaping side of things, the business is more competitive, and successful spraying techniques and the like are closely guarded. Yet, they are more likely to trust product manufacturers because they know the companies want them to succeed.

The panel’s advice to fellow professionals about using social media includes Sallin’s suggestion to post every day and share pictures of products and ideas. He says it is important to cultivate one’s brand and be authentic.

Richey said to remember who your audience is and Orr pointed out that it is social media, not advertising media. So get to know your customers instead of trying to sell them something at all times. Bruderek says to keep accounts professional and positive.

Mitigating Stress to Pollinators

by Jennifer Klemmetson

Dr. Frank Wong, the Bayer CropScience senior regulatory affairs consultant and the 2017 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year, shared his insights on Pollinators, Pesticides and Public Perceptions with TOCA members during the 2017 annual meeting.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the decline of the bee population worldwide. Wong shared data to shed light on the issue.

In most places, bees are not declining as dramatically as once thought, he said. However, as the green industry, we can still take steps to help mitigate the stresses the bee population is facing. The U.S. GAO report on bee health from March 2016 listed factors affecting pollinator health, and Wong outlined ways to mitigate these stressors. Wong said, by taking these into consideration, we can be part of the solution and prevent potential damage to pollinators in the future.

GAO Factors Mitigation
Migratory stress from long-distance transport. Reduce reliance on long-distance transport.

Improve hive health.

Parasites and diseases. Manage hive pests: Varroa mite and others.

Improve honeybee genetic diversity.

Increase state apiary services.

Pesticide use. Follow label instructions.

Use and steward pesticides responsibly.

Manage pesticide drift and exposure.

Habitat loss: degradation, fragmentation and reduced sites for nesting and breeding. Increase natural habit in agriculture and urban systems.
Poor nutrition: decreased forage quality and diversity. Increase forage diversity.

Wong also highlighted why organizations like TOCA matter. TOCA members provide public information, education and outreach to many audiences, while upholding journalistic standards and fact checking. This is key for science and issues communication, especially with all the places people can now access information.

Words on Writing from Peter Clark

by Dawn Rigby and Jennifer Klemmetson

One of the highlights from the 2017 TOCA Annual Meeting was the writing workshop hosted by Dr. Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar emeritus, musician, author, editor, and Poynter Institute writing instructor since 1979. The presentation began with a musical performance and a comparison between great writing and music.

“All creative acts have a connection,” according to Dr. Clark. Great writing, like music, can seem like magic, but when we break it down and study each part, we can see the strategy behind the magic. Together, we studied writing samples and broke them down to analyze the strategies at work.

Dr. Clark shared several writing tools to help us create magic with our own writing. Below are the five writing tools he focused on during the TOCA workshop, and you can find 50 in his book --  Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.

Order words for emphasis.

Place strong words at the beginning and the end.

Perhaps the most powerful writing tool shared by Dr. was this concept of word order. Start sentences and paragraphs with strong words, hide the less important details in the middle, and place strong words at the end.

The period, or “full stop” as it is appropriately named in British English, acts as a stop in your writing. Anything placed right before it will receive special emphasis whether you want it to or not. Make it count.

Prefer the simple over the technical.

User shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs at points of complexity.

The presence or absence of whitespace in a text will lead readers to draw conclusions even before they begin reading. A dense article about a complex topic with long sentences and little white space can be overwhelming to a reader. Breaking up the writing up with white space between shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs can simplify the message and present it in a more digestible way.

Choose the number of elements with a purpose in mind.

One, two, three or four: each sends a secret message to the reader.

The number of elements or examples you use in any given sentence or paragraph sends a message to the reader.

To declare something, simply use one element. To divide something, use two elements; this forces a reader to compare and contrast the elements. To encompass your point, use three elements, and this provides a sense of wholeness. To list, compile and expand, use four or more elements.

Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction.

Learn when to show, when to tell and when to do both.

At the bottom of the ladder are specific, concrete words and ideas. As you move up the ladder, you get more into meaning words. Language at the top of the ladder provokes our thinking, but we need language at the bottom to support and help us understand.

In other words, asking “Can you give me an example?” will drive you down the ladder, and asking “What does that mean?” drives you up.

Learn the difference between reports and stories.

Use one to render information, the other to render experience.

Reports point you there, while stories put you there. A report is information and conveys the who, what, when, where, why and how. A story creates an experience, with characters, action, chronology, setting, motive and how it happened. Writers can create a report, a story or a combination of both. Combining reports and stories created sympathy and understanding, allowing readers to take in the writing in a different way than one or the other might have offered.

TOCA Running Club Unites! Plus, more running tips

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

We set a record for participants in the TOCA Annual Meeting Walk/Run in Tampa in May.  We appreciate the great turnout and look forward to even bigger numbers next year in Cincinnati.  We’ve grown the number of participants each year.  It was also great to see so many of you at the TOCA annual meeting and especially wonderful to run alongside (or behind) so many of you at the walk/run.

As with most regular columns, “many” emails and text messages follow each edition of TOCA Talk and this column.  That is certainly true for this publication.  I shall try to answer three questions most often asked:  1.  If I’ve never been a “runner,” how might I get started?  2.  Any hints on pre and post-running eating/drinking?  3.  Does jogging really help in reducing weight?

  1. Speaking from experience, start your running regimen by walking 5 days each week.  Start by walking for 30 minutes, extend that to 60 minutes after a few weeks.  FIND TIME IN YOUR DAY TO DO THIS!  If you can handle this, you can start running after about a month.  Combine walking (as a warmup) and running at first, then work your way into a solid running program with a slow jog to start, then work your way to a faster pace.
  2. Nutrition is important ALWAYS.  Regarding pre and post running eating/drinking habits, I suggest not eating a couple of hours ahead of your run – if you are a beginner and are running just a few miles each time.  If you think you need to eat something, have some raisins or possibly a banana. After a run, hydrate and then eat normally.  Water is just fine as a hydrating method (before and after).
  3. As you know, losing weight means burning calories.  Make good choices with your eating habits.  Ask your physician about dietary plans to eat healthy (and not go out and eat irresponsibly).  Challenge yourself and keep on a schedule of running and eating responsibly.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com - your TOCA Running Editor.  I’ll be happy to help you with any running questions, general health concerns or simply share my philosophy for living life at its optimal level.

Finally - to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be - keep that brain working as you get very much needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

TOCA Resorts to Revving it Up at Tampa Resort

By Den Gardner
Executive Director

With 70+ members in attendance, the 28th annual meeting of the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is history. This will go down as the organization’s second largest meeting over the years. With informative presentations, the awarding of our top communications awards and remarkable weather (save for one brief shower Thursday night prior to the awards banquet), the Tampa meeting was undoubtedly one of the association’s best in years.

First, thanks to the Program Committee of Scott Hollister, Lacy Ravencraft, Debbie Clayton, Sara Bojar, Scott Covelli and Andy Parmann for working diligently to plan an event with great professional development, tours, networking and the presentation of our association’s communications’ awards for the best writing, design, photo and video production work in the business. You personify what’s great about this organization. Here’s one comment among many to that group: “Wonderful event! The individuals in charge and planning and executing this meeting did a fantastic job!” 

I’m reminded of the words recently by Pat Jones about what TOCA means to him (and we hope many others): “The beautiful thing about the TOCA annual meeting is that it’s the one place that allows us to grow our relationships with each other without all the noise, distractions and deadlines we face every hour in our jobs. Most of us spend our days trying to educate and help readers and customers. TOCA allows us a chance to recharge our batteries, learn new things and become better people and better friends. That’s indispensable.”

And special thanks to Kristy with a “y” Mach and Kristi with an “i” Gardner for all their logistics planning and other efforts to bring a finely-tuned event to our members. And finally, thanks to brother Dan Gardner, who each year enjoys five glorious days with TOCA staff and members on vacation in whatever city TOCA holds its annual meeting. As one attendee put it: “Bravo to the TOCA staff!”

Our surveys are back from the meeting and here’s what you had to say:

“I thought the programming this year was the best we've had. Love the addition of the newbie dinner.”

“I especially appreciated the Nine Holes presentation and how the two speakers from EPIC included case studies from Non-EPIC Clients and media examples from outside of their company (and I told them so.) That was the true spirit of a TOCA presentation!”

“I really enjoyed the panel style discussion with people in the field. I thought that really helped to connect to the audience.”

“Writing topics are always great. The keynote speakers the past couple of years have been excellent. I love the focus on how to improve our writing skills.”

“I loved hearing from end users about how they consume media and product information! More of that please!”

The event was over far too quickly. An outstanding couple of days of education. Each of the speakers was fantastic, and I felt I came away having learned a huge amount.”

“Everyone is so nice and I really enjoyed the sessions. I've definitely been telling other people they need to join and come in the future! The only suggestion I have would be to have everyone check in on the first day so you have name badges. That helps with getting to know everyone. Also, I loved the first-timers dinner -- such a great idea!” 

“Well run conference. Members are friendly and welcoming. Speakers were informative and engaging.  Very impressed, plan to be back.”

“My first TOCA. The speakers were awesome and I appreciated the time to meet new faces during the silent auction (which was also great).”

“I think the event was excellent. The education has been really great over the past 6 or so years. That and the networking is the main reason I come. I wonder if some sort of event to encourage networking would be good?”

OK, I’ll admit there were some constructive comments on how to do the meeting better (blah, blah, blah). Just kidding. We received some great information and will incorporate some of those specific ideas regarding things like:

  • The Thursday morning breakfast and committee meetings.
  • Tweaks to the awards evening.
  • Other professional development opportunities beyond writing and,
  • More networking opportunities.

Let’s get on to the highlights (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • Congrats to Dr. Frank Wong of Bayer for being named our 19th recipient of the TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year, a program sponsored by Project EverGreen.
  • John Reitman of TurfNet was named the Plant Health Writer of the Year, a program sponsored by Bayer. The program in its fifth year. He was named to this award through his numerous reports/webinars and articles about the environment, weather and plant health.

Our professional development workshops throughout the conference were highly rated by attendees. Those included:

▪Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, spoke on preparedness for a communications crisis.

▪Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute on improving your b-b writing and creative skills for today’s readers/customers.

▪The Social Media Nine-Hole Golf Course presentation by Scott Covelli and Andy Parmann of EPIC Creative focused on enhancing your readers’/customers’ social media experiences, using real examples from TOCA members and, as they noted, “keeping us out of the bunkers and on par with our social media practices.”

▪The end-user panel of a golf course superintendent (Brandon Richey), tree farm owner (Timothee Salin), lawn care operator (Rick Orr) and sports turf manager (Matt Bruderek) enlightened members on how they use social media in their day-to-day operations. The panel was moderated by Scott Hollister.

  • Special thanks to Chip Lewison, superintendent at Saddlebrook’s two courses. Chip stepped in at the last minute to provide members with background on his new work to improve the golf facilities at the site. That tour was followed by a behind-the-scenes look at how the horticultural staff at Busch Gardens prepares the grounds for its millions of annual visitors.
  • Also in attendance this year was TOCA Foundation scholarship winner Megan Tyminski of the University of Missouri. Megan was put to work assisting staff with logistics at the meeting, while at the same time finishing preparations for her finals when she returned to school. We appreciate her attendance and thanks to the major TOCA media companies that sponsor this award each year.
  • Also in attendance, and ready to head to Ireland for his internship, was 2017 TOCA intern Marty Richardson, hosted by TurfNet. This is the second year TOCA, through its foundation, is partnering with TurfNet to supplement its intern program in this collaboration. This program is sponsored by Bayer through a $3,000 stipend.
  • Debbie Clayton of Clayton Communications was named to the TOCA Hall of Fame, joining this esteemed group of members: Bob Tracinski, Margaret Bell, Owen Towne, Cindy Code, Pat Jones, Jerry Roche, Jose Milan, Steve Trusty, Ron Hall and Den Gardner.  Find the 2017 TOCA Hall of Fame induction presentation here.
  • The meeting culminated with the evening reception, dinner and awards (domestic and international) program, sponsored for 28 years by Syngenta (and its legacy companies). More than 430 entries were made to this year’s program and the first place and merit winners were recognized, along with the Gardner Awards, given to the top winners in writing, design, photography/video and special projects.

Now, an update for members on the business news of TOCA.

Budget Update.  Annual revenue estimated at $121,900. All major revenue sources – membership dues, annual meeting, contest and corporate sponsorships –  met or exceeded  their budgeted goals. Plus there is a reserve fund of approximately $88,000. Regarding expenses, total expenditures will be about $115,000.

Corporate Sponsors/Publishers Scholarship.  Exceeded goal $52,000.  For a list of total sponsors, please go the TOCA website.

Membership Update. The most important component of the membership recruitment effort will be on promoting the value of TOCA to members. Russ Warner and Andrew Gillman are leading efforts as chairs to expand and grow memberships. Efforts are focusing on state associations, other national green associations, more ornamental companies and publications. A special Young Professionals offer was made in 2017 and it will continue in 2018.

Additional focus is on re-making the membership section of the web site and creating marketing materials to promote TOCA at green industry shows. TOCA will have some presence this year at Cultivate’17 and the FarWest show. It will continue its presence at GIE+EXPO, the Golf Industry Show and the Irrigation Association Show.

Contest Update. Third year online with entries. High marks again. Total of 443 entries (domestic and international) from 35 different companies. TOCA pays an annual maintenance fee of approximately $1,100 for its online contest.

GIE+Expo Breakfast. This continues to be sponsored by Bayer. This is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 a.m., Expo Center in Louisville.

GIS Breakfast. The Golf Industry Show TOCA breakfast is now sponsored by  Jacobsen/Syngenta, and GCSAA/GCM.  The 2018 breakfast will be Wednesday, Feb. 7, in San Antonio. Details to come.

Irrigation Association Breakfast. Have now held this with Ewing’s support for the past three years, first as a breakfast, then as a lunch. The third year was a “TOCA Fireside Chat” and proved very successful. This will continue at the 2017 show in Orlando. Details forthcoming.

Future Annual Meetings.  2018, Cincinnati; 2019, Charlotte.  Board directs staff to look at Charlotte, Denver and Cincinnati for 2018.  As an FYI, previous locations include: Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbus, Raleigh, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Charleston, SC, Seattle, Memphis, NAPA, Savannah, Minneapolis, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tucson, Asheville, Nashville, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Omaha and Tampa.

Board of Directors Update. These members were elected to the board at the Tampa meeting (board members with publications noted):

Lacy Ravencraft, President
Marisa Palmieri, President-Elect, North Coast Media
Scott Hollister, Past President, Golf Course Management
Russ Warner, Secretary/Treasurer, GIE Media
Debbie Clayton, Director
Cindy Code, Director
Jon Kiger, Director
Brian Schoenthaler, Director
Mark LaFleur, Director
Fuzz Martin, Director
Kristine White, Director
Jason DeSarle, Director, Grand View Media
Pat Morrow, Director
Lynette Von Minden, Director
Sara Bojar, Director

The International Chapter. 

In January, Scott Hollister and Jon Kiger attended the BIGGA Turf Management Expo to help promote TOCA to the U.K. and international markets and to assess the prospects for future events there. Here are a few highlights/outcomes:

  • The two met with marketing and communications professionals throughout the week
  • The two hosted a press conference to explain the benefits of TOCA to turf and ornamental professionals regardless of their location. The timing of the press conference was perfect. By design (thanks to scheduling from Karl Hansell at BIGGA) we followed an existing Jacobsen press conference. This meant most of the major turf media were already in the room.
  • The presser started with an introduction to TOCA, explained the mutual interest between TOCA and green industry communicators in the UK and Europe in creating an international chapter of TOCA, and discussed the possibilities of creating a stand-alone TOCA meeting in the UK and increasing involvement of our international colleagues in TOCA’s activities overseas.
  • Explained that the International Communications Contest was a good way for them to become involved with TOCA while getting recognition for their work. Several attendees indicated that they would submit entries for the International Communications Contest.
  • Invited the group to consider attending the annual meeting in Tampa and offered our members’ help in setting up any industry meetings before or after the annual meeting. (Karl Hansell, communications executive from BIGGA is attending, thanks to a TOCA Foundation stipend voted on by the board.)
  • Introduced Alan Mahon from Greenside Magazine, the publication of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI). Alan has been involved with TOCA for many years, and has won numerous awards in the International Communications Content. He gave a short presentation during the press conference, emphasizing the benefits that he and Greenside had received from their involvement in TOCA, and then offered a short professional development session on getting the most out of photos for publication.
  • We pitched his presentation as a sample of the education that takes place on a larger and obviously longer time scale at the annual meetings.
  • Provided each attendee a copy of the TOCA membership materials and left the remaining brochures in the media center.
  • OUTCOME: While it isn’t clear if a full-fledged TOCA chapter is going to happen anytime soon, these individuals certainly understand the benefits of TOCA more thoroughly than before the conference. Our goal moving forward will be to engage international members and perhaps share some of the educational sessions from the upcoming meeting in Tampa through a web-based archive.

Committee Structure.

TOCA will move forward with the following committees:

  • Membership – Russ Warner and Andrew Gillman
  • Sponsorships – Den Gardner and staff
  • Recognition Awards (PHWY, ECY, HOF) – Cindy Code
  • Communications Contest – Chair TBD
  • International – Scott Hollister, Jon Kiger
  • Annual Meeting – chair will always be sitting president and president-elect/VP - Lacy Ravencraft, Marisa Palmieri
  • Professional Development (professional development, TOCA Talk, etc.) – Debbie Clayton, Sara Bojar
  • Communications/Branding
    • Social Media subcommittee
  • Futures Committee (scholarship/internship) – Marisa Palmieri
  • Advisory Committee (made up of past presidents) – always to be chaired by board past-president.

In addition, each committee will be responsible for two reports per year – one before October board meeting and one before annual meeting in May.


TOCA FOUNDATION

Budget Update. Please note that the TOCA Foundation budget fiscal year is now Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.  Expected revenue in the Foundation for 2017 FY is approximately $21,700; with expenses projected at $18,000.

Update on Publishers’ Scholarship. Thanks to Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Grand View Media, North Coast Media, TurfNet, AC Business Media, and EPG/Media & Specialty Information for supporting this program.  We continue to go to all two- and four-year schools (including Land Grant colleges, as well as the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow – ACT --  (which has 29 chapters across the country).

As noted earlier, the scholarship winner was Megan Tyminski from the University of Illinois.

New Marketing Communications Internship Program. TOCA announced, through its foundation, that Den/Sandy Gardner and Dave Hansen are making a five-year initial commitment to a marketing communications intern. The foundation board approved this new program at its Tampa meeting.

The Media Internship will also continue, which has been in effect for five years. Marty Richardson is the intern through TurfNet.

Environmental Communicator of the Year Award. See previous information earlier in this article. Dr. Frank Wong of Bayer is this year’s recipient.

Plant Health Writer of the Year. See previous information earlier in this article. The winner is John Reitman of TurfNet.

CLICK HERE to see all of the wonderful annual meeting photos!

The New Administration Moves In

By Lacy Ravencraft
TOCA Board Chair

First off, I’d like to thank our membership for approving the most recent slate of TOCA Board candidates and officers at our recent conference in Florida. I am honored to serve as your new TOCA board president. (Scott, don’t move too far from the action, as I am sure I will need pointers every now and again.)

For those of you who were able to join us in Florida for our annual meeting, you experienced some phenomenal professional development…and a little TOCA fun! (Although I am still a little disappointed in my personal lack of gator sightings…). For the rest of you, we certainly hope to see you soon.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my cumulative TOCA experience since joining in 2004, and the people I have met along the way. Reflections like the evolution of TOCA over the years, the growing diversity of its membership and our collective response to industry challenges and opportunities.

I was recently interviewing for an opening on my company’s public relations team, and was pleased to see that many candidates had done their homework (read: appropriate level of Google stalking) – and they asked me about TOCA. They were curious about the organization and its value. And it made me realize something.

It’s always fun to explain TOCA to someone in the business, but outside the industry.

While we share a language common to other professional communicators, the landscape is very different (bad pun intended). Our culture, challenges, products and services—and the customers we serve—are unique. I know everyone in any niche segment probably believes that. But this business offers us something special.

The stories of how our customers arrived in the green industry are varied and often fascinating. The stories of how our peers ended up in their roles, be it agency, corporate, association, freelance or other, is equally interesting.

I love the stories. I love the people. I love accumulating knowledge of the nuts and bolts of our business, our customers, our companies and each other. I love the common language that only exists in our space. A language that we helped create, evolve and leverage to shape the future of our industry.

I always joke that this language makes me super interesting and glamorous at parties, where surely irrigation distribution uniformity, low-voltage lighting and grub control are received as completely riveting topics. But that’s the thing. People in this industry, and particularly in the communications aspect of this industry, are not only talented and professional—but also have a certain sense of humor, a relaxed approach and kinship that often leaves me smiling, and confident that I am in the right place.

There is a lot happening in our business. Growth, contractions, shifting trends, new products, a new school of talent, changing tools, new segments, new technologies.

Growth is good. But so is preserving a little history. And this, too, ties back to TOCA. We’ve seen a growth in young professionals in our membership. Many of our peers have transitioned to new roles. New companies and industry newbies have joined our ranks. Some have chosen other fields. And some have joyously returned. All of this diversity in who we are and where we have been is going to make for a much more interesting “where we are heading,” and I am happy to be on this journey with all of you.

Thank you for being engaged in our beloved TOCA association, and for the honor of serving you. LR

Let’s be Safe Out There

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Cold weather running is certainly a challenge for those of us who live in states north of the Mendoza Line (please Google if you are perplexed by this geographical line).  If you choose to run outdoors in the winter, there are numerous running publications that can help you “survive” the cold.  But to save you hours of  inquiry - here are some tips.

  1. Use shoes that have the least amount of mesh. Wear socks that keep wetness away, but keep your feet warm.
  2. Wear gloves and stocking cap. Minnesota Running Hall of Fame member Gerry Smith says: “ Dress comfortably, including wearing layers and see what feels comfortable for you.  Many running gurus suggest that when the temp dips below zero, run indoors. “
  3. Wear reflective clothing as piles of snow can make it harder for others to see you. If running in early morning or after sunset, carry and use a flashlight!
  4. If it is a windy day, start your run into the wind so the wind doesn’t chill you after you have broken a sweat.
  5. Winter running is more about maintenance than speed. Your speed workouts can be saved for spring.

ENJOY your running regimen and be safe out there.  And let me finish with the words of my former neighbor (and experienced runner):  “Before you criticize someone, you should run a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you do criticize them – you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”  Ponder that one for a while.

Finally, be thinking while you run about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Anyone who responds positively to the editors regarding this issue’s running article will be rewarded famously at the next TOCA Annual Meeting.  See you in Tampa.

Don't wind up on your backside, like Den, shown here.

Don't wind up on your backside, like Den, shown here.

Former TOCA Member Hal Dickey from PBI-Gordon Dies

380335_Hal Dickey for from FB profile

Long-time TOCA member, formerly from PBI-Gordon, Hal Dickey recently died at the age of 88. Hal was one of the original members of TOCA back in the early 1990s. He was, as PBI-Gordon’s Doug Obermann says: “He was a wonderful story teller of life events and one great dancer in his time.”

Hal was an annual attendee of TOCA’s May meetings. He was immensely proud of his membership in AA (and was always proud to note he was alcohol-free for 52 years).

Hal Dickey, green pants, on the tour at Microsoft in Seattle

“Hal is now dancing in heaven AND driving his car with CHA-CHA plates,” says Doug. Doug adds that Hal did many wonderful things for PBI-Gordon. Those of us who knew Hal during is TOCA days can say the same.

We will miss Hal.

TOCA and Ewing Host Successful Fireside Chat at the Irrigation Show

TOCA hosted the first Fireside Chat, sponsored by Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply,20161207_141435 at the Irrigation Show on December 7, 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  More than 25 TOCA members and green industry communicators gathered to hear Cliff Woodbury ask “Is Anyone Listening?”

Woodbury is the senior vice president of culture and engagement at Ewing, and discussed ways in which communicators can strengthen and better business-to-business communication within their companies and industry by listening.

TOCA hopes to build upon the success of this event at future Irrigation Shows.

20161207_134245

20161207_142131

Membership Drive and Young Professional Offer

The 2017 Membership Drive is Underway!

By Kyle Wieskus
Membership Director

All members should have received their 2017 membership renewal email. If you have any questions, need any changes made to invoices – please don’t hesitate to send an email to me at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com or call 952-758-6340.  Click here to renew online .

Along with your 2017 renewal, we sent you information on the 2017 Membership Drive Contest!  We are very excited about this contest and the information bears repeating – so please keep on reading the highlights below and find out how you can win some cold hard cash!

Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash – hundreds of dollars!

The TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program.

  • Win $300 by recruiting the most NEW members to TOCA in 2017,
  • Win $250 by recruiting the second most NEW members,
  • Win $200 by recruiting the third most NEW members,
  • Win $150 by recruiting the fourth most NEW members,
  • Win $100 by recruiting the fifth most NEW members, and
  • A bonus of $25 for every member who recruits more than five new members.

What’s a NEW member? Simply (are you catching a theme here), someone who wasn’t a TOCA member in 2016.

All you have to do to be eligible to win in this contest is be a member in good-standing of TOCA for 2017. On the new membership application this year, a line will be included for the member to note who recruited them to TOCA.

If your name is on that new member’s application for membership, you will be eligible to win. Or, simply contact our TOCA membership director Kyle Wieskus at:  kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com and notify her about who you recruited.  We’ll be keeping a tally.

Another exciting component of this new membership drive is the Young Professional (YP) Membership Offer!  We believe that recruitment of “Young Professionals” (those 35 and under) will lead to the successful continued growth of TOCA. We are excited to offer to organizations (any current member company, association, agency, etc.) with two or more paying members in 2017 the opportunity to receive one free, young professional membership to a new TOCA member.

By making membership accessible and affordable for YPs, there are three distinct group benefits:

  • TOCA benefits as an organization by growing in numbers and our communications contest award applications; the organization is positioned for future success and longevity by introducing younger members into the community.
  • Member companies and organizations are able to potentially recruit new talent and develop the abilities of their YP workforce.
  • Young Professionals (YPs) will see TOCA as a community of mentors, capable of providing them with industry specific skills, strategies and connections they cannot find elsewhere.

Please contact the TOCA staff if you would like to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

So start today! First, renew your 2017 membership in TOCA. See the attached form and invoice or renew online here.

Thanks in advance for your membership renewal and let’s all do our part to grow our association!


Buy 2 Get 1 Young Professional Membership FREE!

By Dawn Rigby
Marketing Manager
Advanced Turf Solutions

Calling all young professionals! You could qualify for free TOCA membership. The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is extending an offer for free Awards dinner table2membership to qualifying young professionals. The new program applies to green industry communicators 35 and under. The company membership in TOCA must have two paid memberships for each free young professional membership.

For example: An individual membership costs $140. Each additional member in a company is $90. If a company has three members, and at least one of them is 35 or under, the first member is $140, the second member is $90, and the third member is free. That’s three TOCA memberships for $230!

Add this great deal to the incentive program offered ALL our members for cash means there are many ways to be a part of TOCA at a very reasonable price, recruit members and make a bundle of cash yourself. Go to www.toca.org for more information. Click here for more information.

TOCA, Jacobsen, Syngenta and GCSAA/Golf Course Management Magazine Offer New Member Breakfast Reception at Golf Industry Show (GIS)

You are invited to the breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando, Fla. jacobsen_footerGet together with your domestic and international TOCA friends, invite new folks to join us and enjoy the breakfast, sponsored by Jacobsen and Syngenta, along with GCSAA.Syngenta_logo

Breakfast Details:

For Whom:  TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Where:  Rosen Centre Hotel, Salon 7/8

Time:     7:00-8:15 a.m. breakfast and TOCA update

Please feel free to invite colleagues and prospective members to the breakfast.

Watch your inbox for the invitation and reminders.  Please remember to RSVP. Any questions, you may contact Den Gardner or Kristy Mach at 952-758-6340 or e-mail toca@gandgcomm.com.

Thanks and see you in Orlando!

Getting out of your comfort zone

By Scott HollisterGCSAA 2014 Board and Staff Photos
TOCA Board Chair

In December, I had the opportunity to attend a unique educational event for golf course superintendents presented by one of TOCA’s loyal sponsors, Syngenta. The three-day event was unique because it didn’t cover the territory you might expect it would cover. There was no agronomy, no talk of turf diseases or Syngenta reps pushing the latest fungicides or pesticides.

Instead, the 26 superintendents from across the country came together in Winston-Salem, N.C., to talk business, to absorb advanced, executive-level education presented by staff from Wake Forest University’s School of Business. They were there to take deep dives into areas such as financial management, negotiating and leadership.

The curriculum covered topics that most wouldn’t normally associate with turfgrass managers and their desired professional development goals. Yet, almost to a man, the superintendents I spoke with told me that’s exactly why they wanted to take part in these proceedings. Being forced out of their comfort zone in this way made this event — now in its eighth year — extremely attractive to them. And they weren’t alone — in all, more than 90 superintendents applied for the 26 open slots in this year’s class.

As I sat through these sessions, I thought about TOCA’s own premier professional-development event, our Annual Meeting, set for May 2-4, 2017 at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla. I’ve played a small role in the planning of this event, and I can tell you that as we worked to identify potential topics for the sessions in Tampa, we did our best to look for the new, the different, the unique — topics that would take you out of your own professional comfort zone.

Ours is a diverse membership with diverse professional needs. We have editors and Group Photo from abovepublishers of trade publications. We have public relations practitioners. We have marketers, video production experts, social media specialists. Trying to identify areas of study that appeal equally to each of those groups is, in a word, challenging.

But I believe that TOCA has done a good job of identifying topics for its annual meeting that will hold common interest for all of us, regardless of job title, and improve our professional skills and abilities. And we’ve tried to put spins on those topics so we’re not hearing the same old message, that we’re expanding into new territories and we’re being pushed out of our comfort zones like the superintendents who attended Syngenta’s business event.

This year, the annual meeting will feature sessions on second-generation social media use by business, agencies, publications and end users. It will explore tips and tricks to help improve your technical writing skills. And it will offer an in-depth look at crisis communications and how to guide your organization or your clients through those stormy waters.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be an unsettling experience. But the superintendents who took that leap in December learned just how valuable that exercise can ultimately be. I hope many of you will experience the same thing at TOCA’s Annual Meeting, and I look forward to seeing you all in Tampa.

TOCA Talk – Winter 2017

EnP-basic

The Winter 2017 issue of TOCA Talk is sponsored by EnP.

EnP has been Engineering Optimal Plant Health™ for nearly 30 years. We manufacture liquid and dry fertilizers under three brands: EnP Turf, Foliar-Pak, and Age Old Nutrients. We believe that collaboration and the exchange of ideas are essential for innovation, which is why we are proud to support the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.


Getting out of your comfort zone

By Scott HollisterGCSAA 2014 Board and Staff Photos
TOCA Board Chair

In December, I had the opportunity to attend a unique educational event for golf course superintendents presented by one of TOCA’s loyal sponsors, Syngenta. The three-day event was unique because it didn’t cover the territory you might expect it would cover. There was no agronomy, no talk of turf diseases or Syngenta reps pushing the latest fungicides or pesticides.

Instead, the 26 superintendents from across the country came together in Winston-Salem, N.C., to talk business, to absorb advanced, executive-level education presented by staff from Wake Forest University’s School of Business. They were there to take deep dives into areas such as financial management, negotiating and leadership.

The curriculum covered topics that most wouldn’t normally associate with turfgrass managers and their desired professional development goals. Yet, almost to a man, the superintendents I spoke with told me that’s exactly why they wanted to take part in these proceedings. Being forced out of their comfort zone in this way made this event — now in its eighth year — extremely attractive to them. And they weren’t alone — in all, more than 90 superintendents applied for the 26 open slots in this year’s class.

As I sat through these sessions, I thought about TOCA’s own premier professional-development event, our Annual Meeting, set for May 2-4, 2017 at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla. I’ve played a small role in the planning of this event, and I can tell you that as we worked to identify potential topics for the sessions in Tampa, we did our best to look for the new, the different, the unique — topics that would take you out of your own professional comfort zone.

Ours is a diverse membership with diverse professional needs. We have editors and Group Photo from abovepublishers of trade publications. We have public relations practitioners. We have marketers, video production experts, social media specialists. Trying to identify areas of study that appeal equally to each of those groups is, in a word, challenging.

But I believe that TOCA has done a good job of identifying topics for its annual meeting that will hold common interest for all of us, regardless of job title, and improve our professional skills and abilities. And we’ve tried to put spins on those topics so we’re not hearing the same old message, that we’re expanding into new territories and we’re being pushed out of our comfort zones like the superintendents who attended Syngenta’s business event.

This year, the annual meeting will feature sessions on second-generation social media use by business, agencies, publications and end users. It will explore tips and tricks to help improve your technical writing skills. And it will offer an in-depth look at crisis communications and how to guide your organization or your clients through those stormy waters.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be an unsettling experience. But the superintendents who took that leap in December learned just how valuable that exercise can ultimately be. I hope many of you will experience the same thing at TOCA’s Annual Meeting, and I look forward to seeing you all in Tampa.


TOCA, Jacobsen, Syngenta and GCSAA/Golf Course Management Magazine Offer

New Member Breakfast Reception at Golf Industry Show (GIS)

You are invited to the breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando, Fla. jacobsen_footerGet together with your domestic and international TOCA friends, invite new folks to join us and enjoy the breakfast, sponsored by Jacobsen and Syngenta, along with GCSAA.Syngenta_logo

Breakfast Details:

For Whom:  TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Where:  Rosen Centre Hotel, Salon 7/8

Time:     7:00-8:15 a.m. breakfast and TOCA update

Please feel free to invite colleagues and prospective members to the breakfast.

Watch your inbox for the invitation and reminders.  Please remember to RSVP. Any questions, you may contact Den Gardner or Kristy Mach at 952-758-6340 or e-mail toca@gandgcomm.com.

Thanks and see you in Orlando!


Resorting to Revving Up Your Communications

 By Den Gardner and Scott Hollister

TOCA’s 28th annual meeting returns to Florida for only the second time – and the first time since 1999 – in its history as Tampa is the site from May 2-5 at Saddlebrook Resort.

Additionally, TOCA members will enjoy a first in Tampa in that we will be at a golf, spa and tennis resort. Thus, the theme is appropriate: “Resorting to Revving Up Your Communications.”Print

TOCA’s Annual Meeting Committee has worked hard to plan an event with great professional development, tours, networking and the presentation of our association’s communications’ awards for the best writing, design, photo and video production work in the business.

Highlighting the professional development portion of the annual meeting will be two sessions with Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar and vice president with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Clark is an author of three books on writing and a noted writing coach who has worked with journalists and writers all over the world. Clark will share his business writing expertise with TOCA members during a pair of Thursday morning sessions in Tampa.

The professional development slate in Tampa will also include sessions on social media that will take attendees far past the basics and focus on how best publications, agencies, associations and companies can use the medium to connect with their audiences. And yet another session will offer expert advice on crisis communications and issues management.

The agenda for the meeting itself will take on a familiar look for members. There is the Sand-Hill-Cranes-on-Golf-Coursetraditional board meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2. The TOCA Foundation board meeting will also be conducted at this time. Members are always invited to the meeting. The evening will feature an informal gathering of members at T.D.’s Sports Bar at Saddlebrook. Members will be on their own to mingle and enjoy some libations.

Wednesday morning will be professional development, followed by the golf (on site) or the tour of some of the great horticultural areas of Tampa. Tentative plans are for a backstage visit at Busch Gardens and a trip to George Steinbrenner Field, spring training home of the New York Yankees. Details to come.

Thursday presents more professional development throughout the day. The annual awards dinner and presentation of the best communications work of TOCA will conclude the activities in the evening.

Members may consider staying the weekend at one of the premier resorts in Florida, if not the country. The resort will welcome our members to the many amenities Saddlebrook has to offer.

The 2017 agenda will be available online soon. Registration should be open by early February. Watch the TOCA web site: www.toca.org, for more information in the meantime.

See you in Tampa in 2017!

Tuesday, May 2

2:00 p.m. – Board Meeting – Boardroom B

6:00 p.m. – Informal gathering of members who want to attend at T.D.’s Sports Bar.

7:00 p.m. – Board Dinner – Dempsey’s Steakhouse – same location as T.D.’s SB (Limited Menu)

Wednesday, May 3

7:00-9:00 a.m. – Breakfast on your own at Saddlebrook .

(Tropics Restaurant has buffet breakfast for $20)

9:00-9:45 a.m. – Welcome, introductions, scholarship/intern recognition. Pegasus East Room

  • Continental Breakfast in Pegasus Foyer

9:45 -10:15 a.m. – Environmental Communicator of the Year presentation. Will include a 15-minute presentation by person selected on some of his/her accomplishments.

10:15-10:30 a.m. – Plant Health Writer of the Year presentation.

10:30-10:45 a.m. – Break

10:45-Noon – "Preparing for the Worst: Communicating in a Crisis"  Lisa Lochridge, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association

Lisa Lochridge is director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. She manages communications with its members and the media on topics ranging from food safety to immigration reform.

Previously, Ms. Lochridge was an executive with CBR Public Relations in Maitland, FL, providing clients with media relations, issues management and crisis communication counsel. From 1978 to 1999, she worked in various editorial and management capacities with the Orlando Sentinel, including six years as Seminole County bureau chief.  

A Florida native, Ms. Lochridge holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in communications from the University of Central Florida. 

Noon-6:00 p.m. – Busch Gardens/Yankees Training camp (Box lunch for attendees)

Noon-6:00 p.m. – Golf/Saddlebrook  (four foursomes)—(Box lunch for golfers)

 7:00-9:00 p.m. – Opening Night Reception/Silent Auction (NEW!) – Tropics Terrace and Restaurant

Thursday, May 4

7 a.m. – TOCA Run Club and walkers.  ( 3-mile route available at resort.)

8:00-9:00 a.m. – Breakfast - TOCA committees will meet during complimentary breakfast for members – Pegasus East 1-4.

9:00-10:15 a.m. – Seminar: Roy Peter Clark – Part I. Pegasus East

10:15-10:30 a.m. – Break

10:30-Noon – Seminar: Roy Peter Clark – Part II  Pegasus East

Noon-12:45 p.m. – Lunch  -- Pegasus East 1-4

12:45-1:00 p.m. – Group Photo (Golf course – 18th green or…)

1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m. –  Seminar: Social Media 2.0 EPIC Creative. Pegasus East

2:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m. – Break

3:00-4:00 p.m. – Seminar: Social Media 2.0. End-User Panel Discussion. Pegasus East

 4:00-5:00 p.m. – Business Meeting. Pegasus East

5:00 p.m. – Adjourn

6:30 p.m. – Reception.  Lagoon Pavilion

7:30-9:30 p.m. – Dinner and Awards Program. Lagoon Pavilion

Friday, May 6

Informal  breakfast on your own. Head for home at leisure.


The 2017 Membership Drive is Underway!

By Kyle Wieskus
Membership Director

All members should have received their 2017 membership renewal email. If you have any questions, need any changes made to invoices – please don’t hesitate to send an email to me at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com or call 952-758-6340.  Click here to renew online .

Along with your 2017 renewal, we sent you information on the 2017 Membership Drive Contest!  We are very excited about this contest and the information bears repeating – so please keep on reading the highlights below and find out how you can win some cold hard cash!

Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash – hundreds of dollars!

The TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program.

  • Win $300 by recruiting the most NEW members to TOCA in 2017,
  • Win $250 by recruiting the second most NEW members,
  • Win $200 by recruiting the third most NEW members,
  • Win $150 by recruiting the fourth most NEW members,
  • Win $100 by recruiting the fifth most NEW members, and
  • A bonus of $25 for every member who recruits more than five new members.

What’s a NEW member? Simply (are you catching a theme here), someone who wasn’t a TOCA member in 2016.

All you have to do to be eligible to win in this contest is be a member in good-standing of TOCA for 2017. On the new membership application this year, a line will be included for the member to note who recruited them to TOCA.

If your name is on that new member’s application for membership, you will be eligible to win. Or, simply contact our TOCA membership director Kyle Wieskus at:  kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com and notify her about who you recruited.  We’ll be keeping a tally.

Another exciting component of this new membership drive is the Young Professional (YP) Membership Offer!  We believe that recruitment of “Young Professionals” (those 35 and under) will lead to the successful continued growth of TOCA. We are excited to offer to organizations (any current member company, association, agency, etc.) with two or more paying members in 2017 the opportunity to receive one free, young professional membership to a new TOCA member.

By making membership accessible and affordable for YPs, there are three distinct group benefits:

  • TOCA benefits as an organization by growing in numbers and our communications contest award applications; the organization is positioned for future success and longevity by introducing younger members into the community.
  • Member companies and organizations are able to potentially recruit new talent and develop the abilities of their YP workforce.
  • Young Professionals (YPs) will see TOCA as a community of mentors, capable of providing them with industry specific skills, strategies and connections they cannot find elsewhere.

Please contact the TOCA staff if you would like to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

So start today! First, renew your 2017 membership in TOCA. See the attached form and invoice or renew online here.

Thanks in advance for your membership renewal and let’s all do our part to grow our association!


Buy 2 Get 1 Young Professional Membership FREE!

By Dawn Rigby, Marketing Manager, Advanced Turf Solutions

Calling all young professionals! You could qualify for free TOCA membership. The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is extending an offer for free Awards dinner table2membership to qualifying young professionals. The new program applies to green industry communicators 35 and under. The company membership in TOCA must have two paid memberships for each free young professional membership.

For example: An individual membership costs $140. Each additional member in a company is $90. If a company has three members, and at least one of them is 35 or under, the first member is $140, the second member is $90, and the third member is free. That’s three TOCA memberships for $230!

Add this great deal to the incentive program offered ALL our members for cash means there are many ways to be a part of TOCA at a very reasonable price, recruit members and make a bundle of cash yourself. Go to www.toca.org for more information. Click here for more information.


The Truth about Debbie

By: Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter

Editor's Note:  Each issue, the TOCA Professional Development Committee profiles a TOCA Member -- and the stories live on under the Membership Tab of the TOCA Website. This issue, we profile board member Debbie Clayton.

Please tell us a little about your background -- where did you grow up?Debbie Clayton

I was born in Ohio. My dad was a large-animal veterinarian, but he joined the military when I was three, so my two sisters and I became Air Force brats. We lived in Maryland, New Orleans, Hawaii, Washington state, and Missouri, where I went to high school and college. My parents eventually settled in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.

I'm proud to say I've visited all 50 states and still love to travel.

How did you get started in your career?

Armed with a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri, I moved to Tallahassee, FL to seek my fortune. But it was during a recession, so I started out working as a waitress at the local Elks Club.

That job led to a connection at the Florida Dept. of Agriculture. During my interview there for an editor job, my (ultimate) boss said he wanted to hire a woman for three reasons:  she could be paid less, she would help with secretarial duties, and farmers would rather be interviewed by a woman. Remember, this was the mid-1970's when there weren't a ton of professional women. I said, "Yes, I'll take the job!"

I spent three years writing stories about Florida agriculture, then moved on to the

Bob Tracinski and Debbie Clayton

Pictured: Bob Tracinski, a former communications leader at John Deere and TOCA Hall of Fame member, with Debbie Clayton

Delaware Extension Service, which led to a PR job in Philadelphia handling agricultural accounts. From there I worked at PR agencies in New York, Baltimore and back in Philadelphia, where I started my own freelance writing/PR consulting business, Clayton Communications.

When did you begin working in the turf industry?

I was working for several chemical companies, and they often had companion turf products. One client, Aventis (a Bayer legacy company), hired me to write and produce their publication, The 19th Hole. I learned the golf industry in a hurry writing six features about golf course superintendents every month!

From there, I worked on multiple turf accounts and made it my specialty. Joining TOCA  in 1994 was a turning point in forging relationships in the Green Industry.  I still work in both ag and turf, offering writing, media relations, newsletter development, photography, event planning, social media and more.

Cindy_Lisa_Den_Steve

Early board photo from San Diego in the 1990's.

What do you like best about TOCA? 

Absolutely the camaraderie! I had been a part of other professional groups, which didn't necessarily embrace PR people. But I felt at home with TOCA right away, singing along to the oldies and comparing notes with editors about favorite books and movies. Of course, I like all the professional development at the annual meeting and the fact that I've gotten to know all the movers and shakers in the business through networking and mentoring.

I was secretary-treasurer for 10 years, I’ve served on the board for another 10 years, and I spearhead the Professional Development committee. I’ve only missed one annual meeting in the last 22 years, so I guess you could call me a TOCA Nerd!

Tell us about your family.

I've been married to a fellow PR professional, the wonderful Jim Talbot, for 32 years. Our son, Travis, 30, is a lawyer in New York City. I also have three older stepchildren and seven step-grandchildren. We are one big happy blended family!


The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

Gardner Award Winner Q&A: Annee Cook, Grand View Media

Turf & Turf Design Build Media Kit

By Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter, Professional Development Committee

Please briefly describe your winning project.

We wanted to evolve the standard print media kit beyond a flat PDF and make it a fully-Turf Media Kit 1interactive guide. Easily navigated, these media kit sites also act as “Sales Presentations in a Pocket,” as reps can instantly display a native email program in a pitch, or click-and-share pages and PDF links via email or text from a trade show floor. To the media buyer surfing the site, it provides quick specs and other pertinent information.

What were your main objectives in developing this project? We wanted to improve how digital opportunities are presented to our advertising partners. The ubiquitous one-sheet is a staple of selling, but fails miserably when marketing the digital advertising options of media today.

Design benefits include:

  • Instant access to brands and the full portfolio
  • Real-time, current information
  • Responsive, mobile use
  • Printable sheets and interactive examples
  • Immediate rate access
  • Ability to use video
  • Digital programs and high-impact ad units show interactively
  • Dynamic content on calendars are keyword-searchable

What influenced your approach?

Standing out in the field. We’re growing rapidly and introducing many new products and opportunities for our audiences and advertisers. With all of these features, we wanted to keep the selling process simple and fresh for the many customized and creative client requests.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

Our media industry is ever-changing with dynamic content delivery and (seemingly) daily digital innovations. However, industry standards for media kits and sales tools have lagged in keeping pace. The Grand View Media marketing team took the printed media kit and shook it up — for a fully interactive, customer-focused experience.

http://grandviewmedia.com/turf/

Turf Media Kit 2


 

Gardner Award Winner Q&A: “LM Social Media Strategy”
Marisa Palmieri, Dillon Stewart, Allison Barwacz
Landscape Management, North Coast Media

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications, Professional Development Committee

Please briefly describe your winning project/What were your main objectives in developing this project?

The Landscape Management social media strategy is to drive readers to our website and express our brand's personality (energizing, down-to-earth and hands-on). We accomplished both in 2015 and attribute growth in key web metrics to our efforts on social media.

These included a 20.3% increase in total page views in 2015 over 2014 and a two-year change of 96.1%.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

After creating our strategy, we knew it would come down to execution. It's easy to put plans in place and let them fall by the wayside while we focus on our traditional "day jobs" (putting out a monthly print magazine, posting news to the website daily and producing a weekly newsletter, among other things).

By making a plan and splitting up the duties among staff members, it made the daunting task of keeping up with multiple social channels more doable. The real credit goes to our Associate Editor Dillon Stewart and Digital Content Producer Allison Barwacz (now Kelly Limpert) for handling the bulk of this work day in and day out.

What influenced your approach?

As social media is ever-changing, we strive to stick to our strategy but tweak our approach as we go. We look at what leading news outlets do and also at what seems to be getting results for us, as measured by engagement on various channels.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

Our results—specifically, nearly doubling our page views from 2013-2015. Our organic follower growth on Facebook (16%), Twitter (27%), LinkedIn (36%) and Instagram (258%) from 2015-2016 validated our approach, as did the recognition we received from organizations outside the green industry. We also earned a Silver Regional Award in the 2016 ASBPE (American Society of Business Press Editors) Awards of Excellence and an Honorable Mention in the B-to-B Overall Use of Social Media category in the national Folio: Eddie Awards.

Some of the North Coast Media team at the 2016 TOCA awards dinner in Omaha (from left): Grant Gannon, Bill Roddy, Marisa Palmieri, Craig MacGregor and Jake Goodman.

Some of the North Coast Media team at the 2016 TOCA awards dinner in Omaha (from left): Grant Gannon, Bill Roddy, Marisa Palmieri, Craig MacGregor and Jake Goodman.


Gardner Award Winner Q&A: Safer Hydro Print Ad Design Award

by Dawn Rigby, Advanced Turf Solutions, Professional Development Committee

Joseph Rogge, CCO at EPIC Creative, answered a few questions about EPIC Creative’s Gardner Award for Design - Marketing Communications for “Safer Hydro Print Ad”.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The project was advertising creative that introduced the Safer Brand's positioning and brand voice to the Hydroponic growers market. This creative drove the overall campaign's tactical executions including regional media placements, point-of-sale displays, and direct mail activities.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?Safer Hydro Print Ad

Our goal was to position Safer Brand's nutrient product line as the safest, most plant beneficial organic nutrients available in the organic hydroponic space. The headline "What you put in your plants, you put in your body" communicates the message that using naturally sourced and processed organic materials results in healthier plants and more bountiful harvests, without the potentially dangerous chemicals found in tradition fertilizers.

What influenced your approach?

In researching the competitive landscape in the hydroponic market, we learned that the safety message would be unique. As the hydroponic space has grown, and larger more mainstream brands like Scotts are entering the market, we saw that organics had gained market share but efficacy and safety were topics we could use to position Safer Brand. We felt that presenting beautiful "results" in a highly stylized hydro environment would illustrate the message that Safer Brand's nutrients will help the grower be successful. The headline was intended to own safety, confidently. The fact that safe is in the brand’s name helps us knit the messaging and visuals together nicely.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

The beautiful, symmetrical plant image, supported by the stylized treatment of water and soil, with a powerful color palette is confident and engaging. Certainly, the narrative is important, but the power of this creative is that the dynamic, bold presentation of growing "results" and the visual connection to the Safer products tells the story visually, compelling the audience to want more.


Former TOCA Member Hal Dickey from PBI-Gordon Dies380335_Hal Dickey for from FB profile

Long-time TOCA member, formerly from PBI-Gordon, Hal Dickey recently died at the age of 88. Hal was one of the original members of TOCA back in the early 1990s. He was, as PBI-Gordon’s Doug Obermann says: “He was a wonderful story teller of life events and one great dancer in his time.”

Hal was an annual attendee of TOCA’s May meetings. He was immensely proud of his membership in AA (and was always proud to note he was alcohol-free for 52 years).

Hal Dickey, green pants, on the tour at Microsoft in Seattle

“Hal is now dancing in heaven AND driving his car with CHA-CHA plates,” says Doug. Doug adds that Hal did many wonderful things for PBI-Gordon. Those of us who knew Hal during is TOCA days can say the same.

We will miss Hal.

 

 


TOCA Seeks to Award Annual Scholarship

The TOCA Foundation awards one scholarship to a deserving student currently pursuing a career in green industry communications. Do you someone who fits the bill?  Let them know that there is $2,500 in scholarship money available to them.

The TOCA Board of Directors will award one $2,500, fall semester scholarship (2017-2018 academic-year) to an undergraduate college student pursuing a career in green industry communications. To qualify, students must major or minor in technical communications or a green industry related field such as horticulture, plant sciences, botany, agronomy, plant pathology, etc. The applicant also must demonstrate an interest in using this course of study in the field of communications.

More than $47,000 in scholarships have been awarded since it’s inception in 1992.

The Publishers’ Scholarship is generously supported by Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Grandview Media, North Coast Media, Southcomm Media, Arbor Age, OPEI, Landscape and Irrigation, SportsTurf magazines and TurfNet.com.

Applications are due on March 1.  Click here for the application.


Plant Health Writer of the Year Nominations due March 1

The Plant Health Writer of the Year has been honoring TOCA-member writers for four years.  The program is provided annually to an outstanding writer for excellence in plant health issues to the appropriate green industry audience through writing, including new media, for a publication or publishing company. The winner of this program must be a TOCA member.

These types of writing are examples of what qualifies for entry in this award program:

Jose Milan of Bayer, presents Larry Aylward with the Plant Health Writer of the Year Award.

Jose Milan of Bayer, presents Larry Aylward with the Plant Health Writer of the Year Award.

•             Plant-specific articles related to the health of the plant.

•             Water issues and its effect on turf, shrubs, flowers, etc., regarding green spaces.

•             Fertilization/nutrient management innovations and its effect on green spaces.

•             Pesticide innovations and its effect on green spaces.

•             Mowing technologies and how new methods affect plant health.

•             Growth regulators and the effect these technologies have on plant health.

Winners receive a $1000 stipend to be used toward professional development or to attend the annual TOCA meeting.

To apply or nominate a writer, click here.  Deadline for applications is March 1.


Environmental Communicator of the Year Nominations due March 1

Dr David Shetlar ECotY Cindy Code Project Evergreen (3)

Cindy Code, Executive Director of Project EverGreen, with Dr. David Shetlar.

The TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award may be given to anyone in the green industry in recognition of outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular industry audience.

Sponsored annually by Project EverGreen and now in its 19th year, the Environtmental Communicator of the Year award has been presented at TOCA’s annual meeting.

David Shetlar “The BugDoc“, Ph.D., entomology professor at the Ohio State University,
was recognized as the 2016 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year recipient.

To nominate a deserving candidate, click here.


The 2017 TOCA Communications Contest Update

By Kristy Mach

Have you spent time reflecting on your wonderful communications strategies and tactics 2017 Deadlinein 2016?  Direct those thoughts toward the 2017 TOCA Communications Contest.

Entries will open mid-January, with a deadline of March 15.  Any work done fully or partially in 2016 is eligible for the 2017 contest.  TOCA is again using the BetterBNC online awards platform.

Also make plans to attend the awards banquet at the annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.  The awards banquet will take place Thursday, May 4.

Stay tuned for the announcement call for entries!

Any questions, please contact Kristy Mach at kristymach@gandgcomm.com or 952-758-6340.



TOCA and Ewing Host Successful Fireside Chat at the Irrigation Show

TOCA hosted the first Fireside Chat, sponsored by Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply,20161207_141435 at the Irrigation Show on December 7, 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  More than 25 TOCA members and green industry communicators gathered to hear Cliff Woodbury ask "Is Anyone Listening?"

Woodbury is the senior vice president of culture and engagement at Ewing, and discussed ways in which communicators can strengthen and better business-to-business communication within their companies and industry by listening.

TOCA hopes to build upon the success of this event at future Irrigation Shows.


Let’s be Safe Out There

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Cold weather running is certainly a challenge for those of us who live in states north of the Mendoza Line (please Google if you are perplexed by this geographical line).  If you choose to run outdoors in the winter, there are numerous running publications that can help you “survive” the cold.  But to save you hours of  inquiry - here are some tips.

  1. Use shoes that have the least amount of mesh. Wear socks that keep wetness away, but keep your feet warm.
  2. Wear gloves and stocking cap. Minnesota Running Hall of Fame member Gerry Smith says: “ Dress comfortably, including wearing layers and see what feels comfortable for you.  Many running gurus suggest that when the temp dips below zero, run indoors. “
  3. Wear reflective clothing as piles of snow can make it harder for others to see you. If running in early morning or after sunset, carry and use a flashlight!
  4. If it is a windy day, start your run into the wind so the wind doesn’t chill you after you have broken a sweat.
  5. Winter running is more about maintenance than speed. Your speed workouts can be saved for spring.

ENJOY your running regimen and be safe out there.  And let me finish with the words of my former neighbor (and experienced runner):  “Before you criticize someone, you should run a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you do criticize them – you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”  Ponder that one for a while.

Finally, be thinking while you run about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Anyone who responds positively to the editors regarding this issue’s running article will be rewarded famously at the next TOCA Annual Meeting.  See you in Tampa.

Don't wind up on your backside, like Den, shown here.

Don't wind up on your backside, like Den, shown here.

 

 

 

A Fond Farewell

By Barb Ulschmid

To my TOCA family,

After a wonderful 9+ years with Gardner & Gardner Communications I’ve made the tough decision to pursue a new chapter in life and accepted a FT project assistant/event planning position elsewhere.  TOCA Staff

I would like to sincerely thank each of you for the honor of being a part of this amazing group! Every experience shared, friendship made, opportunity offered and good times had during this time will never be forgotten. I will miss you!

I don’t like good byes, so for now I will say I hope our paths cross again someday. My new email address is barbulschmid@gmail.com.

Take Care!
Barb

Barb Ulschmid Departing G&G After 9+ Years

 By G&G Staff

It’s with great excitement for Barb Ulschmid and selfish sadness among G&G staff that we announce Barb’s last day with G&G on Sept. 23. After more than nine years of wonderful service with us, Barb is moving on to a new position that will afford her even more opportunities to enhance her many skills.Barb_Oct12

We are immensely proud of her time with G&G, and the tremendous growth she’s had since she first came to us in the summer of 2007. Her meeting planning and office manager role within G&G has been invaluable to us.

But most of all we will miss her friendship, her warm heart, her family (who helped us a lot with projects over the years – everything from putting plates on trophies to mowing the lawn), her can-do-it attitude, going the extra mile for annual meetings and always knowing that our members came first in all she did.

It goes without saying that she truly contributed to G&G’s success every day of our more than nine years together, which is almost half of the time that G&G has been in existence.

Working in association management means constantly meeting deadlines, finding ways to lessen stress one week (or more) before an annual meeting, making sure just the right food is ordered for just the right group, nudging volunteer members when deadlines were missed and so much more. Barb did this all with enthusiasm, subtlety, patience and humor. In this business, ALL those attributes are necessary.TOCA Staff Kristy Mach Barb Ulschmid Den Gardner Dan Gardner

Barb, your contributions the past nine years will help keep us on the right track here at G&G in the future. We thank you. We will miss you. Best of luck (although you won’t need luck – you have talent) in your new position and we hope it brings you all the same joy you brought to us all these years.

 

 

Hundreds in Cash Prizes for You as a TOCA Member!

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Do we have your attention? The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is embarking on a brand new, first-ever membership program that will give you hard cash, bread, bucks, currency, dough, legal tender, greenbacks. Call it what you like. But the bottom line is simple:

Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash – hundreds of dollars!

Although at the deadline for TOCA Talk the details are still a little sketchy, we thought we’d whet your appetite and provide information briefly on:

The TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program.

It’s so simple, all you have to do is recruit members to TOCA and win cash – up to hundreds of dollars. Really!

Details will be unveiled at GIE+EXPO in Louisville next month. But suffice it to say, depending on how many NEW members you want to recruit, the five members with the most recruited members will win between $100 and $300. How simple is that?

And a bonus will be provided of $25 for any member who recruits new members beyond five. So even if you’re not in the top five finishers, if you recruit more than five members, you get $25 for each recruited member beyond five. So, recruit 10 members and receive $25 for members six through 10 that you recruited – or $125.

Seems easy to me. And what’s a NEW member? Simply (are you catching a theme here), someone who wasn’t a TOCA member in 2016. All you have to do to be eligible to win in this contest is be a member in good-standing of TOCA for 2017.

Look for more information by email in the near future. Or, simply contact our TOCA membership director Kyle Wieskus at:  kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com and ask her about the contest details.  We’ll be keeping a tally of your recruits.

The contest will run from Nov. 1, 2016, through April 30, 2017. The winners will be announced at the 2017 annual meeting in early May in Tampa, FL.

Our Bigger Plans

This recruitment contest is part of a comprehensive marketing communications plan being put together by the TOCA Membership Committee. Other tactics on this effort will include, but not be limited to:

  1. Video testimonials by members for the web site (watch out – we may be asking you to help us with this).
  2. A comprehensive segmentation recruitment list that will be developed and implemented quarterly by the TOCA Membership Target Team. If you want to be on this team, please let us know.
  3. A printed recruitment piece to be available on the web site and passed out at industry trade shows and other green industry gatherings where communications professionals are in attendance.
  4. More social media efforts to encourage prospects to join TOCA.
  5. The creation of a millennial sub-committee to specifically target this crucial group to the ongoing growth of TOCA and how the organization can assist this group in professional development.
  6. New refinements in our newsletter TOCA Talk, with the publication being sent to prospects on a limited basis.

You are part of a great organization that’s almost three decades old. Help yourself and new prospects find out what makes TOCA so great. It’s volunteers like you that keep our national association vibrant and robust. Thanks in advance and let’s all do our part to grow our association!

Thanks to membership chairs Andrew Gillman and Russ Warner for their leadership in this effort.

The U.S. Navy way back in 1960 (I was nine years old) coined the phrase: Keep it simple stupid (KISS). That’s what this contest will be. And you’ll be a big winner if you participate.

TOCA Intern Talks Ireland

By Nate McKinniss, TOCA 2016 Intern

 79e3756bc6fdc61f6a52817c690d2a7d-

(Editor’s Note: Nate McKinniss of the Ohio State University was the TOCA intern in 2016. This was a partnership for the TOCA internship on a one-time trial basis with TurfNet. Following are Nate’s impressions of his summer. The TOCA Foundation provides a $3,000 stipend each year in a program underwritten by Bayer.)

A new partnership between TurfNet and TOCA created the opportunity for me to spend the summer of 2016 as an intern on the greenkeeping staff at County Louth Golf Club in Baltray, Ireland. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was one of differing perspectives and cultures, both on the golf course and in “real life.”

Upon landing in Ireland I began noticing so many differences between that country and the world as I knew it in Ohio. Now, in retrospect, I also realize how much was the same.6f4c00ef43af244fba84744a118c7cc4-

This summer I learned that two key skills are similar throughout any operation around the world: communication and interpersonal skills. I saw first-hand how critical good communication is for a golf course superintendent (or greenkeeper or course manager, as the position is known over there). Beyond issuing daily marching orders for the greens crew, the superintendent must keep club management and members apprised of course conditions and concerns either in bulletin letters or committee meetings.

My goal is to become a head greenkeeper one day. What TurfNet and TOCA gave me was a first step to developing my communication skills for the future. During my internship I chronicled my work with regular posts on a blog of my own on TurfNet.com. I drafted, edited my copy, chose supporting photos and captions and otherwise honed these skills much earlier than other students in my program at Ohio State.888719c6c8c234da8cb45003cae44c8e-

While my blog posts did not resemble a superintendent’s newsletter or other communication about the golf course, my frequent updates on my activities and adventures kept everyone back home informed on what I was doing. The process taught me that documenting experiences with other people was just as valuable as noting information I learned about the golf course.

With each new blog post I needed to ask myself whether this information is what people want to read. This dug deeper into the art of communication, taking into account the readers’ interests along with what the writer wanted them to know and understand. I found it best to be brief and supplement the text with many pictures; I know because I love scrolling photos myself.

Outside of the golf course my time was typically spent interacting with clubhouse d680818c1686e91cbdb6a7441dbd38f2-employees, members, guests and new friends in those local communities. The Irish are extremely friendly and communicating with them was easy, for which I am thankful. Since the turf itself is a small fraction of what else a golf course superintendent has to manage, this internship helped me with those equally important skills necessary to be a successful golf course superintendent.

I am extremely grateful for the experience I had, and took pride in representing my sponsors. TOCA (through the foundation and the support of Bayer), TurfNet, Jacobsen (the sponsor of the blog) and the Ohio State University were always in mind because without them I would not have this experience.

I hope this program continues, and that the next student gains as much from their summer 0b8af58194160975dac183a3f9d626b8-internship as I did. My advice to them is simply to enjoy your time! Don’t worry about which path to take next, just make sure that the path chosen is one taking you to your goal.

Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour

By Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care

Stacie Zinn Roberts, of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations, won a 2016 Stacie_Zinn_Printable-1Gardner Award — Special Projects for her "Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour." See what influenced her approach.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The “Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour” was one of the premier events held during the GCSAA’s 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Sponsored and presented by our client, Team Zoysia, more than 250 people from more than 20 states and 20 countries attended. The event was held the Monday of the conference. In the morning, buses brought attendees to Bladerunner Farms, the world's largest independent zoysiagrass breeding facility. Attendees rotated through a half-dozen stations where they heard presentations from and asked questions of some of the world's leading researchers on zoysiagrass for golf. In the afternoon, the buses took the group to the Golf Club of Texas where attendees toured the nation's first 100% zoysiagrass golf course to see the grass first-hand in a golf setting. Inside the clubhouse, there were multiple presentations from golf architects and superintendents.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour 1_Stacie Zinn Roberts_Page_1

We wanted to present concrete reasons why zoysia is changing the game of golf, emphasizing the sustainability and playability of the grass. We worked alongside the GCSAA staff to coordinate the event and make it a legitimate part of the educational offerings at GIS.

We also wanted to highlight how the biggest projects in golf — the Olympic Golf Course built for the Games in Rio, Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course, and the new home of the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament — added credibility to our claim of zoysia’s burgeoning importance to the game.

What influenced your approach?

Our approach was strongly influenced by the GCSAA’s need for the event to be non-commercial, yet tell our client’s story. This balance is what shaped how we created messaging and content, selected speakers who presented, even how we structured the scheduling of the day, to create an event of value.Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour 2_Stacie Zinn Roberts_Page_1

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

I think the overall scope of the event was what made the entry stand out. The first stage of promoting the event came in the January issue of Golf Course Management, where we authored a major feature story on zoysia grass in golf, and invited readers to attend the event in San Antonio the following month. We wrote a press release that went out to all industry media that resulted in coverage beforehand in all of the major industry trades, plus we had coverage the day-of and following from a half-dozen media who attended the event based on our invitation. GCSAA-TV covered the event. They created a 5-minute video that streamed online during GIS and that still lives on their website. In addition, Team Zoysia's three core founding members were also interviewed live on GCSAA-TV's stage during the show.

The “Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour” was so overwhelmingly successful that the GCSAA asked us if we would repeat the process again in 2018 when GIS returns to San Antonio.

A Place to Breathe

AWARD WINNER Q&As

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

A Place to Breathe

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications

Brian Horn, managing editor at Lawn & Landscape, won a 2016 Gardner Writing Award for his story "A Place to Breathe."

 

Please briefly describe your winning project.

George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA, is the first hospice for kids in the A place to breatheUnited States. Every child has what would be considered a life-limiting illness, some terminal. After hearing the non-profit would close due to lack of funds, the owner of Serpico Landscaping offered to have her company take care of the landscaping free of charge. The story focuses on how the landscaping helps calm the families staying there and how much Serpico employees take pride in caring for the grounds.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

I wanted to get the landscaping company’s perspective on what it’s like working at a location where grieving families use the gardens on the grounds to gather themselves. I also wanted to drive home how important the landscaping on the grounds was as part of the healing process for families going through a difficult time. I wish I could have spoken with a family who had a family member at GMCH, but that wasn’t possible.  GM 2

What influenced your approach?

I didn’t want to focus too much on the sick child angle, but it was hard to ignore. So I just let the people involved tell their story. The head of GMCH was very appreciative of the work, and Serpico’s owner was genuine about why they are involved, so it was pretty easy to get a feel for their enthusiasm.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

Sick children is a depressing topic, but the slight relief that landscaping provided families gave the story an uplifting feel. The quotes were good and illustrated the emotions GM 1everyone had around the project. I also interviewed a crew member who said they were once asked not to work in an area. When he looked over a few minutes later, he saw a family grieving. Someone from the family came over and relayed how appreciative they were that the crew didn’t work in the area. The family member also complimented the landscape and how the family used the gardens for reflection. I thought that really brought the story together.

Read the story here.

TOCA and Bayer Offer New Member Breakfast Reception at GIE + EXPO

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is again providing a breakfast reception at the GIE + EXPO in Louisville, KY.

Bayer sponsors the breakfast, with the room provided courtesy of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

For Whom: TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Friday, October 21, 2016

Where:  Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C112

Time:  7:15 a.m. – 7:45 a.m. – Breakfast

7:45 a.m. - 8 a.m. - TOCA Update

8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Bayer Media Conference

We encourage you to bring a prospective member/guest to the breakfast. Whether or not you plan to attend, please RSVP.  Any questions, call  952-758-6340 or email to toca@gandgcomm.com.  Thank you – see you in Louisville! 

Fall Running Tips

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Summer has passed and we are now in the fall season.  Some would argue this is the greatest time of year to be running.  Beautiful colored leaves, temps better and the World Series is upon us.  Does it get any better than this?

Runners-Walkers-Crew

Special Running Correspondent, Dan Gardner, pictured at left.

It will come as no surprise to anyone when I state that vigorous exercise yields a plethora of health blessings.  That can also be said of measured or mild exercise.  The American College of Sports Medicine Position Statement on Exercise tells us – through numerous studies - that individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week had greater increases in HDL cholesterol (the good fat).  Long distance runners had nearly a 50% reduction in high blood pressure.

Well, 50 miles per week may be a lot, but getting outside and enjoying green spaces, fresh air and the like is just the right remedy for what TOCA members need. Even five miles a week is a start to some great living and great health!

As one grows older, many running experts would suggest that you switch your exercise regimen to biking or swimming.  Both have positives to your overall health.   If the pounding of running is starting to take a toll on your body, by all means visit with your doctor about other methods to keep fit.  Walking is another alternative.

As Shannon James said, exploring the connection between body and mind, “You can improve your mind-body fitness-it’s just important to choose realistic fitness options.”  Reducing your overall stress level (and feeling good about yourself) has always been the major motivation for my own fitness program.  We should all strive for stress reduction.  Choosing the proper type of fitness plan, combined with healthy diet, will help you feel better totally.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com - your TOCA Running Editor.  I have a multitude of ideas and I’m free.

Finally - to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be - keep that brain working as you get very much needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

 

TOCA Membership Renewal for 2017

By TOCA Staff

TOCA will be emailing the 2017 Membership Renewal forms soon.   The value of being a TOCA member and the benefits you receive are many. Professional development and networking are at the top of the list. You are an important part of the organization and TOCA is embarking on a marketing plan for membership that intends to show you the many key reasons why it’s important for you to renew your membership. Look for many efforts from your TOCA members in the next several months about membership value.

Networking lunch.

Networking lunch.

These efforts are being led by Andrew Gillman of Performance Marketing, Fuzz Martin of EPIC Creative and board member Russ Warner of GIE Media. They would love to hear from you regarding expanding the value TOCA brings to its members and our membership.

And you can also help us reach our membership goal, help TOCA grow and also have the opportunity to win some cash prizes with the TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program. Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash!  How simple is that? Look for more details to be coming soon at the GIE+EXPO in Louisville next month.

In the meantime, if you find value in TOCA, we’d like you to renew all of your members and maybe even increase your individuals within your company or organization.

TOCA membership, compared to other organizations, is a tremendous bargain. It’s only $140 per year for the first member and $90 for the second and subsequent members. Let us thank those companies and organizations who have continued to support us with a high level of membership.

Fun for all!

Fun for all!

Please note that we add an optional tax-deductible $15 contribution to membership dues for the TOCA Foundation.  If you prefer not to contribute, please notify the TOCA office at 952-758-6340.

If there is more than one TOCA member in your company, one person from the group will receive the membership email. He/she should pass the Membership Application form to the other members in the company who want to renew their membership.  Membership Applications can be found online at www.toca.org.  Please return a Membership Application for each renewing member with your payment so we can keep track of each renewal.

Any questions about your membership should be directed to membership director Kyle Wieskus. She can be reached at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com.

You may pay dues with a CHECK made payable to the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association.   Or you can pay ONLINE! 

To renew an existing membership, please log in to our members system by clicking on the line indicated.  After logging in, you will see all the members from your company –OR- your individual name.  You can update your contact information.  If you are renewing with others in your company, your Group # will be listed here.  And you can Renew Membership for 2017.

As noted earlier, dues for the first person from the company are $140.  Dues for each additional person from the same company are $90 each.  In this way your company can save considerably per person by renewing as a group.

We look forward to you renewing your membership.  Please don't hesitate to call the TOCA office with questions about your membership.

Applications Open for TOCA College Scholarship

By Staff

Applications are now available for the TOCA scholarship program to be awarded in early 2017. The scholarship is awarded for the 2017-2018 school year.

The 2016 scholarship of $2,500 was awarded to Mara McGurl of the University of Georgia. She also attended the annual meeting in Omaha. TOCA annually awards one, $2,500 scholarship with an additional travel stipend to attend the annual meeting.Mara Mcgurl Scholarship UGA

“The committee (Cindy Code, Steve Trusty and Felicia Gillham) annually does a great job,” says Den Gardner, executive director. “The caliber of the students each year makes the decision tougher and tougher. We are thrilled to provide this monetary gift to a worthy student each year.”

TOCA staff reaches out to ACT college chapters for applications, as well as all two-and four-year schools that offer turf management programs.

Thanks to Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Grand View Media, North Coast Media, TurfNet and EPG/Media & Specialty Information for supporting this program.

For more information about the scholarship please go online to the TOCA website.

TOCA Talk – Fall 2016

EnP-basic

The Fall 2016 issue of TOCA Talk is sponsored by EnP.

EnP has been Engineering Optimal Plant Health™ for nearly 30 years. We manufacture liquid and dry fertilizers under three brands: EnP Turf, Foliar-Pak, and Age Old Nutrients. We believe that collaboration and the exchange of ideas are essential for innovation, which is why are proud to support the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.


 Where “Members Matter Most”

By Scott HollisterGCSAA 2014 Board and Staff Photos
TOCA Board Chair

Since its founding some 27 years ago, TOCA has accomplished some pretty special things. From the scholarships it has awarded and the professional development it has provided, to the relationships and connections it has fostered, this organization has contributed to the green industry in ways that should make all of us exceedingly proud.

But at our core, TOCA is a membership organization, and none of the important and lasting accomplishments that we have achieved over the years would be possible without you, TOCA’s members.

This is something that is rarely far from my mind as TOCA’s president. Maybe that’s because my “real job” is with another membership organization, GCSAA, where we’re reminded regularly about the importance of member growth, satisfaction and retention. The mantra “Members Matter Most” isn’t just a catch phrase at GCSAA; it’s something that drives our work on a daily basis.

I’m pleased to report that TOCA is taking a similar approach to its business, as evidenced by a pair of initiatives that you’ll be hearing about, not only in this issue of TOCA Talk, but also well into the future.

Many of us know and regularly connect with communicators in the green industry who, for one reason or another, are not current members of TOCA. They might not fully comprehend the benefits of membership, might be leery of a commitment to yet another cause or organization or they might simply have never been asked to join.

That’s where the first of these new initiatives comes in, one that aims to reward current members of TOCA with cold, hard cash for each new member they bring to the organization. Much more information about this effort will be forthcoming after its official launch at the upcoming GIE+EXPO conference in Louisville, Ky., in October, but the overall premise is simple — recruit five or more new members to TOCA and be eligible for a cash prize ranging from $25 all the way up to $300.

In recent years, TOCA’s membership rolls have swelled to their highest point in our organization’s history. But continued growth doesn’t happen on its own, which is why I’m pleased that Russ Warner, Andrew Gillman, Fuzz Martin and the rest of the membership committee have made this program and making sure that “Members Matter Most” such a priority.

Another area where TOCA is looking to spread that philosophy is overseas, among our international colleagues who work in the green industry. You’ve likely at least heard about our recent international efforts before now, but I can assure you that those efforts continue and we’re hopeful that 2017 will bring a new high-water mark to our work in the UK and Europe.

These efforts have experienced their fair share of fits and starts, to be sure, but I am IMG_1853 (3)confident that the foundation for this work remains solid. We have secured gracious financial support for our work internationally from our friends at Bayer and Jacobsen. We have a dedicated internal committee working to plot out the next logical steps in our efforts. And again in 2017, TOCA will take its message to the BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association) Turf Management Exposition in Harrogate, England, to further strengthen existing relationships, establish new ones and lay the groundwork for a possible stand-alone TOCA meeting in the UK later in 2017.

We have undertaken these overseas efforts not necessarily to grow our domestic membership as much as to create a sister organization that can serve our green industry colleagues in the UK and Europe the same way TOCA has served all of us here in the U.S., to create an organization dedicated to education, to scholarship and to giving those communicators a place where they know that members will most definitely matter most.

 


New Chapter for TOCA Meeting Site as Group Heads for Saddlebrook Resort/Tampa!

By Den Gardner
Executive Director

There have been 27 TOCA annual meetings in 27 different cities. The 28th annual meeting returns to Florida for only the second time – and first time since 1999 in Orlando. And the location in 2017 is the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL, our 28th city.Resort-Aerial

Mark these dates on your calendar: May 2-5, 2017.

Additionally, TOCA members will enjoy a first in Tampa in that we will be at a resort. But with golf, tennis, spas, restaurants and bars throughout the complex, members are in for a special treat this year.

After a very successful event in Omaha last year – more than 60+ attendees – the pressure is on to bring an event to Tampa that meets the expectations of its members from professional development to tours to award ceremonies and much more.

The theme of the meeting is still in development. TOCA thanks Bill Brown and his staff at Turf Republic/TR Digital Media  for taking on the two-year commitment of creating a theme for the annual get-together and staging/managing the award program. We will have more information for you at GIE+EXPO regarding the 2017 meeting.5-Chipping-on-18-Terrace

The meeting itself will take on a familiar look for members. There is the traditional board meeting on Tuesday, May 2, in the afternoon. The TOCA Foundation board meeting will also be conducted at this time. Members are always invited to the meeting. The evening will likely feature our optional informal gathering of members at one of the facilities at the resort.

Wednesday morning will be professional development, followed by the golf (on site) or the tour of some of the great horticultural areas of Tampa. Thursday presents more professional development throughout the day. The annual awards dinner and presentation of the best communications work of TOCA will conclude the activities in the evening.

Members may consider staying the weekend at one of the premier resorts in Florida, if not the country. The resort will welcome our members to the many amenities Saddlebrook has to offer.

The 2017 agenda will be more complete by the TOCA breakfast at GIE+EXPO in late October. Watch the TOCA web site: www.toca.org, for more information in the meantime.

See you in Tampa in 2017!


Barb Ulschmid Departing G&G After 9+ Years

By G&G Staff

 It’s with great excitement for Barb Ulschmid and selfish sadness among G&G staff that we announce Barb’s last day with G&G on Sept. 23. After more than nine years of wonderful service with us, Barb is moving on to a new position that will afford her even more opportunities to enhance her many skills.TOCA Staff

We are immensely proud of her time with G&G, and the tremendous growth she’s had since she first came to us in the summer of 2007. Her meeting planning and officer manager role with within G&G, was invaluable to us.

But most of all we will miss her friendship, her family (who helped us a lot with projects over the years – everything was putting plates on trophies to mowing the lawn), her can-do-it attitude, going the extra mile for annual meetings and always knowing that our members came first in all she did.

It goes without saying that she truly contributed to G&G’s success every day of our more than nine years together, which is almost half of the time that G&G has been in existence.

Working in association management means constantly meeting deadlines, finding ways to lessen stress one week (or more) before an annual meeting, making sure just the right food is ordered for just the right group, nudging volunteer members when deadlines were missed and so much more. Barb did this all with enthusiasm, subtlety, patience and humor. In this business, ALL those attributes are necessary.

Barb, your contributions the past nine years will help keep us on the right track here at G&G in the future. We thank you. We will miss you. Best of luck (although you won’t need luck – you have talent) in your new position and we hope it brings you all the same joy you brought to us all these years.


A Fond Farewell

By Barb Ulschmid

To my TOCA family,Barb_Oct12

After a wonderful 9+ years with Gardner & Gardner Communications I’ve made the tough decision to pursue a new chapter in life and accepted a FT project assistant/event planning position elsewhere.

I would like to sincerely thank each of you for the honor of being a part of this amazing group! Every experience shared, friendship made, opportunity offered and good times had during this time will never be forgotten. I will miss you!

I don’t like good byes, so for now I will say I hope our paths cross again someday. My new email address is barbulschmid@gmail.com.

Take Care!
Barb


Panel Discussion Focuses on Editor/PR Relationships

By Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter

At this year's TOCA annual meeting, a panel discussion addressed industry trends and provided insights to help with professional development. Two editors and two PR professionals met up on the final day to dissect the evolving relationship between the two Panel Matt Gersib Brian Horn Sara Bojar Gregg Wartgowprofessions. Brian Horn with Lawn & Landscape and Gregg Wartgow with Green Industry Pros represented the media, while Sara Bojar with Bader Rutter and Matt Gersib with MGPR spoke on behalf of the PR industry. It was a healthy conversation that generated a lot questions, comments and ideas.

Here are the some of the highlights we discussed:

  • Traditional PR has taken a backseat to new media. Sponsored content is the new norm. It’s about finding a balance that works for the publication, the writer and their client.
  • The news cycle is much shorter than it used to be, and the need for news is ongoing. PR professionals are encouraged to share content, but we need to make sure that it’s interesting, timely and relevant.
  • Both editors and their readers want quick bites of information —bullets, infographics, statistics. Basically, “tell me what I need to know and why I need to know it.”
  • New media forces all in green industry communications to know the reader/audience better, but it also allows for more customizable, targeted content.
  • Digital and social media allows for sharing news more quickly, and it gives us the opportunity to react to news much faster. However, pay attention to editorial calendars and material submission dates to ensure accurate communication.
  • Finally, we are all being challenged to do more with less. We need to continue to work together to ensure that we are communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Techniques for Excellent Writing

By Jennifer Klemmetson
Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply

 Writing consultant, columnist and award-winning author Stephen Wilbers has written more than 950 columns on effective writing. During this year’s annual TOCA meeting, he shared his techniques and exercises to help improve our writing skills.Stephen Wilbers PhD

Five Elements of Effective Writing

Good writing is clear, concise and to the point. Use these five elements to keep your writing on track.

  1.  Focus on a clear, manageable central idea with subordinate ideas that support and reinforce that idea.
  2. 2. Organize the material to guide the reader from one idea to the next.
  3. Have supporting material — including explanations, examples, statistics and quotations — that clarifies and persuades.
  4. Use clear, specific language that the audience will be able to understand. Use a variety of sentence structure and length.
  5. Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct — people will notice if it’s not.

Proofreading Checklist

Wilbers offered four quick checks for proofreading your own work or someone else’s work.

  1. Does it look right?
  2. Is it effective?
  3. Does it sound right?
  4. Is it correct?

The 3-Step Message

This easy, three-step message helps you draft a quick, concise email or other messages to communicate more effectively.

  1. Purpose: I am writing to you because …
  2. Background: The important points are …
  3. Proposed action: I propose that you …

Practice and Set Goals

To improve your writing, create a writing plan. Short term goals: What steps will you take in the next week to improve your writing? Long term goals: What steps will you take in the next month to improve your writing? Write down 2-3 steps for each, and continuously work to improve your writing skills.

Check out all of Wilbers’ tips, columns and quick reference guides on his website at www.wilbers.com.


Telling Your Story Through Infographics 

By Dawn Rigby, Advanced Turf Solutions

What better way to present the information from the panel discussion, “Telling Your Story Through Infographics,” than with an infographic.

Here is my attempt at creating an infographic, using the skills I learned at the 2016 TOCA annual meeting. This infographic illustrates the comparisons between the presentations by Jim Novak and Matt Strelecki during the panel discussion.

Telling-Your-Story-Through-Infographics (2)


Nate McKinniss of Ohio State University interned with TurfNet  

By Nate McKinniss

TOCA 2016 Intern

 (Editor’s Note: Nate McKinniss of the Ohio State University was the TOCA intern in 2016. This was a partnership for the TOCA internship on a one-time trial basis with TurfNet. Following are Nate’s impressions of his summer. The TOCA Foundation provides a $3,000 stipend each year in a program underwritten by Bayer.)888719c6c8c234da8cb45003cae44c8e-

A new partnership between TurfNet and TOCA created the opportunity for me to spend the summer of 2016 as an intern on the greenkeeping staff at County Louth Golf Club in Baltray, Ireland. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was one of differing perspectives and cultures, both on the golf course and in “real life.”

Upon landing in Ireland I began noticing so many differences between that country and the world as I knew it in Ohio. Now, in retrospect, I also realize how much was the same.

This summer I learned that two key skills are similar throughout any operation around the world: communication and interpersonal skills. I saw first-hand how critical good communication is for a golf course superintendent (or greenkeeper or course manager, as the position is known over there). Beyond issuing daily marching orders for the greens crew, the superintendent must keep club management and members apprised of course conditions and concerns either in bulletin letters or committee meetings.

My goal is to become a head greenkeeper one day. What TurfNet and TOCA gave me was a first step to developing my communication skills for the future. During my internship I chronicled my work with regular posts on a blog of my own on TurfNet.com. I drafted, edited my copy, chose supporting photos and captions and otherwise honed these skills much earlier than other students in my program at Ohio State.d680818c1686e91cbdb6a7441dbd38f2-

While my blog posts did not resemble a superintendent’s newsletter or other communication about the golf course, my frequent updates on my activities and adventures kept everyone back home informed on what I was doing. The process taught me that documenting experiences with other people was just as valuable as noting information I learned about the golf course.

With each new blog post I needed to ask myself whether this information is what people want to read. This dug deeper into the art of communication, taking into account the readers’ interests along with what the writer wanted them to know and understand. I found it best to be brief and supplement the text with many pictures; I know because I love scrolling photos myself.

Outside of the golf course my time was typically spent interacting with clubhouse employees, members, guests and new friends in those local communities. The Irish are extremely friendly and communicating with them was easy, for which I am thankful. Since the turf itself is a small fraction of what else a golf course superintendent has to manage, this internship helped me with those equally important skills necessary to be a successful golf course superintendent.

I am extremely grateful for the experience I had, and took pride in representing my sponsors. TOCA (through the foundation and the support of Bayer), TurfNet, Jacobsen (the sponsor of the blog) and the Ohio State University were always in mind because without them I would not have this experience.0b8af58194160975dac183a3f9d626b8-

I hope this program continues, and that the next student gains as much from their summer internship as I did. My advice to them is simply to enjoy your time! Don’t worry about which path to take next, just make sure that the path chosen is one taking you to your goal.

 

 

 


What the BugDoc Said about Biodiversity

By Britney Riggs, Advanced Turf Solutions

The 2016 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year, David J. Shetlar, Ph.D., aka the “BugDoc," told TOCA members at the annual TOCA meeting in Omaha that urban biodiversity is real and resilient.

Dr David Shetlar ECotY Cindy Code Project Evergreen (3)

Dr. David Shetlar receives the TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year award from Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen.

Dr. Shetlar said many studies completed on biodiversity are “non-target” insecticide studies. Studies conducted in Ohio and New York on the abundance of arthropods showed mites to be the most abundant. He said some entomologist studies on urban diversity use different turfgrass habitats and management but newer studies are looking at reclaimed lands.

The BugDoc continued by explaining native plants are better than non-native plants and gave his opinions on the common misconceptions of pesticides. He believes the older, simpler ways of life are not necessarily better than today’s, and natural and organic products and materials are not necessarily safer than synthetic. There can be real risks in banning pesticides.

A Professor of Urban Landscape Entomology at The Ohio State University, Dr. Shetlar performs outreach on turf and ornamental entomology, teaches general entomology and concentrates on turfgrass entomology research. He produces the popular P.E.S.T. Newsletter in association with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association. In 2005, he was one of the recipients of an Annual Leadership Award presented by Lawn &  Landscape and Bayer, and he received the Educator & Public Service Award from ONLA in 2010. He has coauthored several books on turfgrass insects and has a long list of research and outreach publications.

The award, sponsored by Project EverGreen, is given annually to an active green industry member for outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular audience within the turf and ornamental industry.

The recipient will be recognized at the annual TOCA meeting, held this year in Wesley Chapel, FL, May 2-4, 2017. A $500 cash stipend is presented to the winner.

APPLICATIONS can be found at the link provided and must be emailed or postmarked by March 1, 2017.  The recipient will be notified in March 2017.  For more information, contact Kristy Mach at kristymach@gandgcomm.com or 952-758-6340.


AWARD WINNER Q&As

The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.

A Place to Breathe

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications

Brian Horn, managing editor at Lawn & Landscape, won a 2016 Gardner Writing Award for his story "A Place to Breathe." A place to breathe

Please briefly describe your winning project.

George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA, is the first hospice for kids in the United States. Every child has what would be considered a life-limiting illness, some terminal. After hearing the non-profit would close due to lack of funds, the owner of Serpico Landscaping offered to have her company take care of the landscaping free of charge. The story focuses on how the landscaping helps calm the families staying there and how much Serpico employees take pride in caring for the grounds.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

I wanted to get the landscaping company’s perspective on what it’s like working at a location where grieving families use the gardens on the grounds to gather themselves. I also wanted to drive home how important the landscaping on the grounds was as part of the healing process for families going through a difficult time. I wish I could have spoken with a family who had a family member at GMCH, but that wasn’t possible.  GM 1

What influenced your approach?

I didn’t want to focus too much on the sick child angle, but it was hard to ignore. So I just let the people involved tell their story. The head of GMCH was very appreciative of the work, and Serpico’s owner was genuine about why they are involved, so it was pretty easy to get a feel for their enthusiasm.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

Sick children is a depressing topic, but the slight relief that landscaping provided families gave the story an uplifting feel. The quotes were good and illustrated the emotions everyone had around the project. I also interviewed a crew member who said they were once asked not to work in an area. When he looked over a few minutes later, he saw a family grieving. Someone from the family came over and relayed how appreciative they were that the crew didn’t work in the area. The family member also complimented the landscape and how the family used the gardens for reflection. I thought that really brought the story together.


Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour

By Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care

 Stacie Zinn Roberts, of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations, won a 2016 Gardner Award — Special Projects for her "Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour." See what influenced her approach.Stacie_Zinn_Printable-1

 Please briefly describe your winning project.

The “Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour” was one of the premier events held during the GCSAA’s 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Sponsored and presented by our client, Team Zoysia, more than 250 people from more than 20 states and 20 countries attended. The event was held the Monday of the conference. In the morning, buses brought attendees to Bladerunner Farms, the world's largest independent zoysiagrass breeding facility. Attendees rotated through a half-dozen stations where they heard presentations from and asked questions of some of the world's leading researchers on zoysiagrass for golf. In the afternoon, the buses took the group to the Golf Club of Texas where attendees toured the nation's first 100% zoysiagrass golf course to see the grass first-hand in a golf setting. Inside the clubhouse, there were multiple presentations from golf architects and superintendents.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour 2_Stacie Zinn Roberts_Page_1

We wanted to present concrete reasons why zoysia is changing the game of golf, emphasizing the sustainability and playability of the grass. We worked alongside the GCSAA staff to coordinate the event and make it a legitimate part of the educational offerings at GIS.

We also wanted to highlight how the biggest projects in golf — the Olympic Golf Course built for the Games in Rio, Tiger Woods’ first U.S. golf course, and the new home of the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament — added credibility to our claim of zoysia’s burgeoning importance to the game.

What influenced your approach?

Our approach was strongly influenced by the GCSAA’s need for the event to be non-commercial, yet tell our client’s story. This balance is what shaped how we created messaging and content, selected speakers who presented, even how we structured the scheduling of the day, to create an event of value.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour 1_Stacie Zinn Roberts_Page_1

I think the overall scope of the event was what made the entry stand out. The first stage of promoting the event came in the January issue of Golf Course Management, where we authored a major feature story on zoysia grass in golf, and invited readers to attend the event in San Antonio the following month. We wrote a press release that went out to all industry media that resulted in coverage beforehand in all of the major industry trades, plus we had coverage the day-of and following from a half-dozen media who attended the event based on our invitation. GCSAA-TV covered the event. They created a 5-minute video that streamed online during GIS and that still lives on their website. In addition, Team Zoysia's three core founding members were also interviewed live on GCSAA-TV's stage during the show.

The “Zoysia as a Game Changer Tour” was so overwhelmingly successful that the GCSAA asked us if we would repeat the process again in 2018 when GIS returns to San Antonio.

 


 

TOCA Reviewing Host Media Company Rules for 2017                                             

By Staff

The fourth year internship was a great success during the summer of 2016 as Nate McKinniss of Ohio State University interned with TurfNet in a collaborative program with the company in Ireland.

In a departure from how the internship program has previously been selected the past three years, the TOCA Foundation board determined to do a test in 2016 and use the intern selected by TurfNet.

The internship program is sponsored by Bayer. Nate studied turf and blogged weekly during his internship in Ireland. TurfNet worked with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI) in this program.

In the three previous years of the program, North Coast Media hosted the intern twice and Randall Reilly (through Total Landscape Care) once.

The board will determine the direction of 2017 at its fall meeting in Louisville.

If your publishing company, or association or company that has needs for a summer intern to write articles for magazines, newsletters, online copy or similar assignments, please let the TOCA staff know by contacting Kristy Mach at kristymach@gandgcomm.com.

The internship is meant to be educational and informative for both the intern and the host organization.  The internship also includes a travel stipend to attend the TOCA Annual Meeting. Thanks in advance for your interest in the great program for students.


TOCA Seeks New Applications for Hall of Fame

By Staff

Den Gardner, TOCA Executive Director, Hall of Fame inductee Ron Hall, Nicole Wisniewski, editor-in-chief of Turf and Turf Design Build magazines.

The TOCA Hall of Fame inducted Ron Hall at the 27th annual meeting in Omaha in May. Previous year’s recipients include: Jose Milan, Steve Trusty, Cindy Code, Pat Jones and Jerry Roche.

The organization at that time also grandfathered four previous inductees from its

Distinguished Service Award program – Margaret Bell, Den Gardner, Owen Towne and Bob Tracinski – into the Hall of Fame as well.

The TOCA Hall of Fame will now induct members each year into the Hall of Fame. For an application form for 2017 (to be inducted in May 2017 in Florida) please go to TOCA’s website. For more information about this program, please contact the TOCA office at 952-758-6340.


Year Five Finds Changes in Plant Health Writer of the Year Program

By Staff

Applications for the fifth year of the Plant Health Writer of the Year program, sponsored by Bayer, are now open. Last year’s winner was Larry Aylward of Grand View Media.

Larry Aylward PHWotY Jose Milan Bayer

Jose Milan, Bayer, presents Larry Aylward with the TOCA Plant Health Writer of the Year award.

“We expanded the focus of the award last year to broaden the types of articles eligible,” Den Gardner, executive director, says. “This was well received and will continue with this new criteria.”

Previous winners have been:

2013 – Larry Aylward, Moose River Media (now Grand View Media)

2014 – Karl Danneberger, North Coast Media (Golfdom)

2015 – Howard Richman, Golf Course Management (GCSAA)

The award is given annually to an outstanding writer for excellence in plant health issues to the appropriate green industry audience through writing, including New Media, for a publication or publishing company. The winner of this program must be a TOCA member.

These are the types of writing that are examples of what qualifies for entry in this award program:

  • Plant-specific articles related to the health of the plant.
  • Water issues and its effect on turf, shrubs, flowers, etc., regarding green spaces.
  • Fertilization/nutrient management innovations and its effect on green spaces.
  • Pesticide innovations and its effect on green spaces.
  • Mowing technologies and how new methods affect plant health.
  • Growth regulators and the effect these technologies have on plant health.

Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2017. For more information about this program, please contact the TOCA office at 952-758-6340 or go to TOCA’s website.


Applications Open for TOCA College Scholarship

By Staff

Applications are now available for the TOCA scholarship program to be awarded in early 2017. The scholarship is awarded for the 2017-2018 school year.

The 2016 scholarship of $2,500 was awarded to Mara McGurl of the University of Mara Mcgurl Scholarship UGAGeorgia. She also attended the annual meeting in Omaha. TOCA annually awards one, $2,500 scholarship with an additional travel stipend to attend the annual meeting.

“The committee (Cindy Code, Steve Trusty and Felicia Gillham) annually does a great job,” says Den Gardner, executive director. “The caliber of the students each year makes the decision tougher and tougher. We are thrilled to provide this monetary gift to a worthy student each year.”

TOCA staff reaches out to ACT college chapters for applications, as well as all two-and four-year schools that offer turf management programs.

Thanks to Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Grand View Media, North Coast Media and EPG/Media & Specialty Information for supporting this program.

For more information about the scholarship please go to www.toca.org and link to the scholarship tab.


TOCA Membership Renewal for 2017

By TOCA Staff

TOCA will be emailing the 2017 Membership Renewal forms soon.   The value of being a TOCA member and the benefits you receive are many. Professional development and networking are at the top of the list. You are an important part of the organization and TOCA is embarking on a marketing plan for membership that intends to show you the many key reasons why it’s important for you to renew your membership. Look for many efforts from your TOCA members in the next several months about membership value.Group Photo from above

These efforts are being led by Andrew Gillman of Performance Marketing, Fuzz Martin of EPIC Creative and board member Russ Warner of GIE Media. They would love to hear from you regarding expanding the value TOCA brings to its members and our Thursday lunch attendeesmembership.

And you can also help us reach our membership goal, help TOCA grow and also have the opportunity to win some cash prizes with the TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program. Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash!  How simple is that? Look for more details to be coming soon at the GIE+EXPO in Louisville next month.

In the meantime, if you find value in TOCA, we’d like you to renew all of your members and maybe even increase your individuals within your company or organization.

TOCA membership, compared to other organizations, is a tremendous bargain. It’s only $140 per year for the first member and $90 for the second and subsequent members. Let us thank those companies and organizations who have continued to support us with a high level of membership.Tuesday Member Reception attendees Andy Timm Fuzz

Please note that we add an optional tax-deductible $15 contribution to membership dues for the TOCA Foundation.  If you prefer not to contribute, please notify the TOCA office at 952-758-6340.

If there is more than one TOCA member in your company, one person from the group will receive the membership email. He/she should pass the Membership Application form to the other members in the company who want to renew their membership.  Membership Applications can be found online at www.toca.org.  Please return a Membership Application for each renewing member with your payment so we can keep track of each renewal.

Any questions about your membership should be directed to membership director Kyle Wieskus. She can be reached at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com.

You may pay dues with a CHECK made payable to the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association.   Or you can pay ONLINE with a credit card (VISA/MC/AMEX).

To renew an existing membership, please log in to our members system by clicking on the line indicated.  After logging in, you will see all the members from your company –OR- your individual name.  You can update your contact information.  If you are renewing with others in your company, your Group # will be listed here.  And you can Renew Membership for 2017.

As noted earlier, dues for the first person from the company are $140.  Dues for each additional person from the same company are $90 each.  In this way your company can save considerably per person by renewing as a group.

We look forward to you renewing your membership.  Please don't hesitate to call the TOCA office with questions about your membership.

 


 TOCA and Bayer Offer New Member Breakfast Reception at GIE + EXPO Meeting

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is again providing a breakfast reception at the GIE + EXPO in Louisville, KY.

Bayer sponsors the breakfast, with the room provided courtesy of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

For Whom: TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Friday, October 21, 2016

Where:  Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C112

Time:  7:15 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. – Breakfast

8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Bayer Media Conference

We encourage you to bring a prospective member/guest to the breakfast. Whether or not you plan to attend, please RSVP.  Any questions, call  952-758-6340 or email to toca@gandgcomm.com.  Thank you – see you in Louisville!


Fall 2016 Running Column                                            

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Summer has passed and we are now in the fall season.  Some would argue this is the greatest time of year to be running.  Beautiful colored leaves, temps better and the World Series is upon us.  Does it get any better than this?Runners-Walkers-Crew

It will come as no surprise to anyone when I state that vigorous exercise yields a plethora of health blessings.  That can also be said of measured or mild exercise.  The American College of Sports Medicine Position Statement on Exercise tells us – through numerous studies - that individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week had greater increases in HDL cholesterol (the good fat).  Long distance runners had nearly a 50% reduction in high blood pressure.

Well, 50 miles per week may be a lot, but getting outside and enjoying green spaces, fresh air and the like is just the right remedy for what TOCA members need. Even five miles a week is a start to some great living and great health!

As one grows older, many running experts would suggest that you switch your exercise regimen to biking or swimming.  Both have positives to your overall health.   If the pounding of running is starting to take a toll on your body, by all means visit with your doctor about other methods to keep fit.  Walking is another alternative.

As Shannon James said, exploring the connection between body and mind, “You can improve your mind-body fitness-it’s just important to choose realistic fitness options.”  Reducing your overall stress level (and feeling good about yourself) has always been the major motivation for my own fitness program.  We should all strive for stress reduction.  Choosing the proper type of fitness plan, combined with healthy diet, will help you feel better totally.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com - your TOCA Running Editor.  I have a multitude of ideas and I’m free.

Finally - to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be - keep that brain working as you get very much needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

 


Calendar of Events 

Fall Photo

October 19-21, 2016
Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO)
Kentucky Exposition Center
Louisville, KY

October 19, 2016
TOCA Board Meeting – 2:00 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Kentucky Exposition Center, Room: C102
Louisville, KY

October 21, 2016
TOCA Breakfast Reception:

7:15 a.m. – 7:45 a.m. – Breakfast

7:45 a.m. – 8 a.m. – TOCA Update

8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Bayer Media Conference

Kentucky Exposition Center, Room: C112
Louisville, KY

December 5-9, 2016
Irrigation Show – New Member Meeting
Las Vegas Convention Center

December 31, 2016
TOCA Internship Host application deadline

January 17-19, 2017
British Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) at BIGGA, Harrogate, England

February 4-9, 2017
Golf Industry Show

February 8, 2017
Golf Industry Show – TOCA Breakfast Reception, 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.
Orange County Convention Center, Room TBD, Orlando, FL

February 28, 2017
TOCA Internship Student application deadline

March 1, 2017
Application Deadlines for:

  • TOCA Scholarship
  • Plant Health Writer of the Year
  • TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

May 2-4, 2017 (Tues-Thurs)
28th annual TOCA Meeting
Saddlebrook Resort, 5700 Saddlebrook Way, Wesley Chapel, FL  33543


Welcome New Members!

Brian Bellmont, Bellmont Partners

Jeremy Bigler, Lebanon Turf

Mary Claire Carter, Global Prairie

Allison Ruth Fortner, Super-Sod

Eddie Gordon, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Aupply

Shelli Lissick, Bellmont Partners

Mike Lytle, Lebanon Turf

Pat Morrow, Bayer

Jill Odom, Randall Reilly

Glenn Rougier, Bayer Environmental Science

Joel Sandock, Lebanon Turf

Year Five Finds Changes in Plant Health Writer of the Year Program

By Staff

Applications for the fifth year of the Plant Health Writer of the Year program, sponsored by Bayer, are now open. Last year’s winner was Larry Aylward of Grand View Media.

“We expanded the focus of the award last year to broaden the types of articles eligible,” Den Gardner, executive director, says. “This was well received and will continue with this new criteria.”

Larry Aylward PHWotY Jose Milan Bayer

Jose Milan, Bayer, presents Larry Aylward, Grand View Media with the 2016 Plant Health Writer of the Year award.

Previous winners have been:

2013 – Larry Aylward, Moose River Media (now Grand View Media)

2014 – Karl Danneberger, North Coast Media (Golfdom)

2015 – Howard Richman, Golf Course Management (GCSAA)

The award is given annually to an outstanding writer for excellence in plant health issues to the appropriate green industry audience through writing, including New Media, for a publication or publishing company. The winner of this program must be a TOCA member.

These are the types of writing that are examples of what qualifies for entry in this award program:

  • Plant-specific articles related to the health of the plant.
  • Water issues and its effect on turf, shrubs, flowers, etc., regarding green spaces.
  • Fertilization/nutrient management innovations and its effect on green spaces.
  • Pesticide innovations and its effect on green spaces.
  • Mowing technologies and how new methods affect plant health.
  • Growth regulators and the effect these technologies have on plant health.

Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2017. For more information about this program, please contact the TOCA office at 952-758-6340 or go to TOCA’s website.

TOCA Seeks New Applications for Hall of Fame

By Staff

Ron Hall

Ronnie Hall

The TOCA Hall of Fame inducted Ron Hall at the 27th annual meeting in Omaha in May.  Previous year’s recipients include: Jose Milan, Steve Trusty, Cindy Code, Pat Jones and Jerry Roche.

The organization at that time also grandfathered four previous inductees from its Distinguished Service Award program – Margaret Bell, Den Gardner, Owen Towne and Bob Tracinski – into the Hall of Fame as well.

The TOCA Hall of Fame will now induct members each year into the Hall of Fame. For an application form for 2017 (to be inducted in May 2017 in Florida) please go to TOCA’s website. For more information about this program, please contact the TOCA office at 952-758-6340.

TOCA Reviewing Host Media Company Rules for 2017

By Staff

888719c6c8c234da8cb45003cae44c8e-

Nate McKinniss, TOCA/TurfNet intern, in Ireland.

The fourth year internship was a great success during the summer of 2016 as Nate McKinniss of Ohio State University interned with TurfNet in a collaborative program with the company in Ireland.

In a departure from how the internship program has previously been selected the past three years, the TOCA Foundation board determined to do a test in 2016 and use the intern selected by TurfNet.  Nate blogged about his experience for TurfNet all summer long.

The internship program is sponsored by Bayer. Nate studied turf and blogged weekly during his internship in Ireland. TurfNet worked with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI) in this program.

In the three previous years of the program, North Coast Media hosted the intern twice and Randall Reilly (through Total Landscape Care) once.

The board will determine the direction of 2017 at its fall meeting in Louisville.

If your publishing company, or association or company that has needs for a summer intern to write articles for magazines, newsletters, online copy or similar assignments, please let the TOCA staff know by contacting Kristy Mach at kristymach@gandgcomm.com.

The internship is meant to be educational and informative for both the intern and the host organization.  The internship also includes a travel stipend to attend the TOCA Annual Meeting. Thanks in advance for your interest in the great program for students.

Telling Your Story Through Infographics

By Dawn Rigby, Advanced Turf Solutions

What better way to present the information from the panel discussion, “Telling Your Story Through Infographics,” than with an infographic.

Here is my attempt at creating an infographic, using the skills I learned at the 2016 TOCA annual meeting. This infographic illustrates the comparisons between the presentations by Jim Novak and Matt Strelecki during the panel discussion.

Telling-Your-Story-Through-Infographics (2)

New Chapter for TOCA Meeting Site as Group Heads for Saddlebrook Resort/Tampa!

By Den Gardner

Executive Director

There have been 27 TOCA annual meetings in 27 different cities. The 28th annual meeting returns to Florida for only the second time – and first time since 1999 in Orlando. And the location in 2017 is the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL, our 28th city.Resort-Aerial

Mark these dates on your calendar: May 2-5, 2017.

Additionally, TOCA members will enjoy a first in Tampa in that we will be at a resort. But with golf, tennis, spas, restaurants and bars throughout the complex, members are in for a special treat this year.

After a very successful event in Omaha last year – more than 60+ attendees – the pressure is on to bring an event to Tampa that meets the expectations of its members from professional development to tours to award ceremonies and much more.

The theme of the meeting is still in development. TOCA thanks Bill Brown and his staff at Turf Republic/TR Digital Media  for taking on the two-year commitment of creating a theme for the annual get-together and staging/managing the award program. We will have more information for you at GIE+EXPO regarding the 2017 meeting.5-Chipping-on-18-Terrace

The meeting itself will take on a familiar look for members. There is the traditional board meeting on Tuesday, May 2, in the afternoon. The TOCA Foundation board meeting will also be conducted at this time. Members are always invited to the meeting. The evening will likely feature our optional informal gathering of members at one of the facilities at the resort.

Wednesday morning will be professional development, followed by the golf (on site) or the tour of some of the great horticultural areas of Tampa. Thursday presents more professional development throughout the day. The annual awards dinner and presentation of the best communications work of TOCA will conclude the activities in the evening.

Members may consider staying the weekend at one of the premier resorts in Florida, if not the country. The resort will welcome our members to the many amenities Saddlebrook has to offer.

The 2017 agenda will be more complete by the TOCA breakfast at GIE+EXPO in late October. Watch the TOCA web site: www.toca.org, for more information in the meantime.

See you in Tampa in 2017!

Where “Members Matter Most”

By Scott HollisterGCSAA 2014 Board and Staff Photos
TOCA Board Chair

Since its founding some 27 years ago, TOCA has accomplished some pretty special things. From the scholarships it has awarded and the professional development it has provided, to the relationships and connections it has fostered, this organization has contributed to the green industry in ways that should make all of us exceedingly proud.

But at our core, TOCA is a membership organization, and none of the important and lasting accomplishments that we have achieved over the years would be possible without you, TOCA’s members.

This is something that is rarely far from my mind as TOCA’s president. Maybe that’s because my “real job” is with another membership organization, GCSAA, where we’re reminded regularly about the importance of member growth, satisfaction and retention. The mantra “Members Matter Most” isn’t just a catch phrase at GCSAA; it’s something that drives our work on a daily basis.

I’m pleased to report that TOCA is taking a similar approach to its business, as evidenced by a pair of initiatives that you’ll be hearing about, not only in this issue of TOCA Talk, but also well into the future.

Many of us know and regularly connect with communicators in the green industry who, for one reason or another, are not current members of TOCA. They might not fully comprehend the benefits of membership, might be leery of a commitment to yet another cause or organization or they might simply have never been asked to join.

That’s where the first of these new initiatives comes in, one that aims to reward current members of TOCA with cold, hard cash for each new member they bring to the organization. Much more information about this effort will be forthcoming after its official launch at the upcoming GIE+EXPO conference in Louisville, Ky., in October, but the overall premise is simple — recruit five or more new members to TOCA and be eligible for a cash prize ranging from $25 all the way up to $300.

In recent years, TOCA’s membership rolls have swelled to their highest point in our organization’s history. But continued growth doesn’t happen on its own, which is why I’m pleased that Russ Warner, Andrew Gillman, Fuzz Martin and the rest of the membership committee have made this program and making sure that “Members Matter Most” such a priority.

Another area where TOCA is looking to spread that philosophy is overseas, among our international colleagues who work in the green industry. You’ve likely at least heard about our recent international efforts before now, but I can assure you that those efforts continue and we’re hopeful that 2017 will bring a new high-water mark to our work in the UK and Europe.

These efforts have experienced their fair share of fits and starts, to be sure, but I am IMG_1853 (3)confident that the foundation for this work remains solid. We have secured gracious financial support for our work internationally from our friends at Bayer and Jacobsen. We have a dedicated internal committee working to plot out the next logical steps in our efforts. And again in 2017, TOCA will take its message to the BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association) Turf Management Exposition in Harrogate, England, to further strengthen existing relationships, establish new ones and lay the groundwork for a possible stand-alone TOCA meeting in the UK later in 2017.

We have undertaken these overseas efforts not necessarily to grow our domestic membership as much as to create a sister organization that can serve our green industry colleagues in the UK and Europe the same way TOCA has served all of us here in the U.S., to create an organization dedicated to education, to scholarship and to giving those communicators a place where they know that members will most definitely matter most.

Techniques for Excellent Writing

By Jennifer Klemmetson
Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply

Stephen Wilbers PhD

Writing consultant, columnist and award-winning author Stephen Wilbers has written more than 950 columns on effective writing. During this year’s annual TOCA meeting, he shared his techniques and exercises to help improve our writing skills.

Five Elements of Effective Writing

Good writing is clear, concise and to the point. Use these five elements to keep your writing on track.

  1. Focus on a clear, manageable central idea with subordinate ideas that support and reinforce that idea.
  2. Organize the material to guide the reader from one idea to the next.
  3. Have supporting material — including explanations, examples, statistics and quotations — that clarifies and persuades.
  4. Use clear, specific language that the audience will be able to understand. Use a variety of sentence structure and length.
  5. Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct — people will notice if it’s not.

Proofreading Checklist

Wilbers offered four quick checks for proofreading your own work or someone else’s work.

  1. Does it look right?
  2. Is it effective?
  3. Does it sound right?
  4. Is it correct?

The 3-Step Message

This easy, three-step message helps you draft a quick, concise email or other messages to communicate more effectively.

  1. Purpose: I am writing to you because …
  2. Background: The important points are …
  3. Proposed action: I propose that you …

Practice and Set Goals

To improve your writing, create a writing plan. Short term goals: What steps will you take in the next week to improve your writing? Long term goals: What steps will you take in the next month to improve your writing? Write down 2-3 steps for each, and continuously work to improve your writing skills.

Check out all of Wilbers’ tips, columns and quick reference guides on his website at www.wilbers.com.

Panel Discussion Focuses on Editor/PR Relationships

By Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter

At the 2016 TOCA annual meeting, a panel discussion addressed industry trends and Panel Matt Gersib Brian Horn Sara Bojar Gregg Wartgowprovided insights to help with professional development. Two editors and two PR professionals met up on the final day to dissect the evolving relationship between the two professions. Brian Horn with Lawn & Landscape and Gregg Wartgow with Green Industry Pros represented the media, while Sara Bojar with Bader Rutter and Matt Gersib with MGPR spoke on behalf of the PR industry. It was a healthy conversation that generated a lot questions, comments and ideas.

Here are the some of the highlights we discussed:

  • Traditional PR has taken a backseat to new media. Sponsored content is the new norm. It’s about finding a balance that works for the publication, the writer and their client.
  • The news cycle is much shorter than it used to be, and the need for news is ongoing. PR professionals are encouraged to share content, but we need to make sure that it’s interesting, timely and relevant.
  • Both editors and their readers want quick bites of information —bullets, infographics, statistics. Basically, “tell me what I need to know and why I need to know it.”
  • New media forces all in green industry communications to know the reader/audience better, but it also allows for more customizable, targeted content.
  • Digital and social media allows for sharing news more quickly, and it gives us the opportunity to react to news much faster. However, pay attention to editorial calendars and material submission dates to ensure accurate communication.
  • Finally, we are all being challenged to do more with less. We need to continue to work together to ensure that we are communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time.

What the BugDoc Said about Biodiversity

By Britney Riggs

Advanced Turf Solutions

Dr David Shetlar ECotY Cindy Code Project Evergreen (3)

The "BudDoc," right, receives his Environmental Communicator of the Year award from Cindy Code of Project EverGreen, sponsor of the program.

The 2016 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year, David J. Shetlar, Ph.D., aka the “BugDoc," told TOCA members at the annual TOCA meeting in Omaha that urban biodiversity is real and resilient.

Dr. Shetlar said many studies completed on biodiversity are “non-target” insecticide studies. Studies conducted in Ohio and New York on the abundance of arthropods showed mites to be the most abundant. He said some entomologist studies on urban diversity use different turfgrass habitats and management but newer studies are looking at reclaimed lands.

The BugDoc continued by explaining native plants are better than non-native plants and gave his opinions on the common misconceptions of pesticides. He believes the older, simpler ways of life are not necessarily better than today’s, and natural and organic products and materials are not necessarily safer than synthetic. There can be real risks in banning pesticides.Dave_Shetlar

A Professor of Urban Landscape Entomology at The Ohio State University, Dr. Shetlar performs outreach on turf and ornamental entomology, teaches general entomology and concentrates on turfgrass entomology research. He produces the popular P.E.S.T. Newsletter in association with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association. In 2005, he was one of the recipients of an Annual Leadership Award presented by Lawn &  Landscape and Bayer, and he received the Educator & Public Service Award from ONLA in 2010. He has coauthored several books on turfgrass insects and has a long list of research and outreach publications.