TOCA Talk – Fall 2011

Let’s Get Moving on TOCA’s Strategy for Success in 2012!

By McGavock H. Edwards APR?, Account Director?, IMRE
President, TOCA Board of Directors

While it’s sad to see summer go, I’m excited about the onset of fall. The humidity exits the south and is replaced by crisp mornings and warm afternoons. College football is kicking in, and we’re making plans for Oktoberfest, Halloween and trips to the mountains to see the changing leaves.

Professionally, plans are being made as well. Sales and marketing strategy has been solidified, and my teams are working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, creating communication strategies for the 2012 year. It’s an exciting time indeed! This is when our strategic thinking skills are exercised and everyone gets excited about the year to come. We’re discussing new offerings, looking at new and changing audiences and identifying how to reach them with all the new communication channels available to us.

It’s an exciting time for TOCA as well. Our strategic plan creation is behind us and our committees are busy putting strategy into action. Professional development offerings are underway; membership and sponsorship growth is a key focus; and expansion of branding and communication activities is in the works. This year we should ensure our industry knows who we are, what we provide, and why TOCA is key to the continued well being of the Green Industry.

Our next great opportunity for spreading the word is upon us with GIE + EXPO right around the corner. While you’re on the show floor, we hope you’ll continue to help build a strong association. We have more to offer than ever before and new industry communicators need to hear about us!

During the show, I challenge each of you to meet a few new people, tell them about TOCA and bring them to our annual breakfast. Thanks to Bayer Environmental Science, we’ll have a chance to gather once again on Friday, Oct. 28, C105, at the convention center. Our new member breakfast is a great opportunity to demonstrate what a great association this truly is.

And, for all of you (whether you’re headed to Louisville or not), I hope you’ll help make TOCA stronger. Membership renewal forms will be coming soon (or depending on when you got this, you may already have them by email) and, in addition to renewing current memberships, this is a perfect time to build our base. I hope each of you will find some time to tell a few new people about TOCA (maybe from your own company) and encourage them to get involved. The membership committee, Den and I are all happy to help answer questions or share ideas. We’re just a call away! 

Let’s do for TOCA this fall, exactly what we’re doing for our respective employers and clients; look at our communication strategy, identify tactics for executing and create results for success! I’m up for it. Are you?


New Member Breakfast Reception

at GIE + EXPO Meeting

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

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

For Whom: TOCA Members and Invited Guests

When: Friday, October 28, 2011

Where: Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C105

Time: 7:00 – 7:45 a.m. – Breakfast 8:00 a.m.-8:45 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. An email evite will be coming out shortly. Any questions, contact Den Gardner or Barb Ulschmid at 952-758-6340 or email to Thank you – see you in Louisville!


“Hit the Right Notes in Nashville!”
Thirteen Hundred Fifty Two Guitar Pickers in Nashville ­ And TOCA Too

By Den Gardner?, Executive Director

OK. I’m a baby boomer. And although I like a little country music (if it’s Blake Shelton or Lady Antebellum or maybe even Buck Owens — Hee-Haw anyone? — I’m more into rock and roll (or pop as they call it today).

But who doesn’t remember the Lovin’ Spoonful? More importantly, who doesn’t remember that fabulous 1966 hit song Nashville Cats that reached number eight on the Billboard list. OK, so you Gen X and Gen Y folks can go to YouTube and check them out. I would definitely define them one of the great bands of all time. A great analogy to TOCA — one of the great associations of all time.

What I dream is Jared Bodnar playing and the rest of us singing that famous line from that song: “Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two guitar pickers in Nashville.”

But did you know the next verse noted there were: “Sixteen thousand eight hundred twenty one mothers from Nashville.” Well, we’ve got plenty of mothers in TOCA! And I hope many moms, dads and other TOCA members join us May 1-4 when we gather for our 23rd annual meeting. Our theme, as the article headline states: “Hit the Right Notes in Nashville!”

So, I can’t go on without breaking most of Ann Wylie’s rules regarding writing and the number of words in a sentence. But I just can’t help it. Here goes: Do You Believe in Magic? If you do, Daydream about Summer (OK it will be spring) In The City and do it now and find the Nashville Cats because until now You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice.

Oh, so you’re thinking enough already. You’d rather know about the program workshop and seminars, sleeping room costs, internet availability, and simple details like that. But me? I’ll still dream of Lovin’ Spoonful’s lead singer John Sebastian (also played a mean auto harp). He was my hero!

But really folks, TOCA is excited to be headed for one of the country’s most famous cities. And there is a little bit of country in Nashville. The TOCA meeting for 2012 finds us at the downtown Hilton Hotel with a room rate of $175. And there are plenty of direct flights to Nashville.

The meeting this year will continue with our format from the past two years — with a theme surrounding a Green Industry issue and professional development. At this time the program is in the early developmental stages, so there is little to report about the agenda. We should have some concrete details by mid-October.

“Taking Care of Business Tuesday” will return for those interested in setting up meetings with colleagues during the afternoon. That’s when the TOCA board meets. Like last year, I don’t think Bachman-Turner Overdrive will be present, but feel free to set up whatever meetings are appropriate for your company or organization. Otherwise, we’ll see you Tuesday night and get ready for the volunteer tour Wednesday morning or the annual TOCA golf tournament. We have Ann Wylie returning for the Thursday morning workshop — this time to focus on online writing for editors and PR professionals.

Otherwise, the program will be similar to Asheville in terms of format. There will be no additional tour and more professional development Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday. The business meeting will be Thursday afternoon and the meeting will conclude with the annual Syngenta Awards Banquet in the evening.

People will be able to go home at their leisure Friday or stay the weekend (for the group rate price that TOCA has negotiated).

Yes, we are excited about Nashville in 2012! We hope you can join us. More information about the meeting (including the agenda regarding professional development) will be available at the TOCA GIE+Expo Breakfast, sponsored by Bayer, on Friday morning, Oct. 28, 7 a.m., at the convention center in C105.

So, Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? Well, do it now and let’s see you in Nashville!


I Love Being a Mentee!
By Christina Schave?, Two Rivers Marketing

When TOCA’s Professional Development Committee instituted the mentor/mentee program at this year’s annual meeting in Asheville, N.C., I didn’t have to be sold on the values the program brings to our organization and green industry. TOCA’s membership comprises a wide variety of industry experience — from brand-new members to those who have heralded the benefits of landscaping, golf, irrigation, nurseries, etc., for decades. This vast expanse of knowledge is what makes the new mentor/mentee program a huge opportunity for our growth as individuals, as well as industry professionals.

My professional background is varied: former newspaper editor and designer, former managing editor of Total Landscape Care magazine, and now North American media relations manager for Bobcat Company. Basically, I know a decent amount about a lot of things. But I knew I wanted a mentor, so I approached current TOCA President McGavock Edwards about being that person.

We’re pretty good at scheduling monthly phone calls, and exchange e-mails more often that. This year I decided to go through the APR (Accredited in Public Relations) review course. In Central Iowa that includes a 10-week prep course, followed by a Readiness Review Panel discussion. If you pass the panel’s review, you are allowed to take the computer-based exam.

McGavock (an APR herself) has been so helpful and encouraging during the last 4 1/2 months, and I know with her assistance I’ll sail smoothly through the remainder of the process.

I know my questions and issues will change as I continue my career in the green industry, and it’s nice to know there’s someone in my corner willing to give me an honest, unbiased opinion to help me learn and grow as a person and as a professional.

If you want more information about this program, give me a shout at


TOCA Membership Renewal for 2012

It’s that time of year. TOCA will be emailing the 2012 Membership Renewal forms soon. If there is more than one TOCA member in your company, one person from the group will receive the email. He/she should pass the Membership Application form to the other members in the company who want to renew their membership. Dues for the first member are $125. Dues for each additional member from the same company are $75 each. In this way your company can save considerably per person by renewing as a group. You may pay dues with a check made payable to the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association or online with a credit card (VISA/MC/AMEX) online at (a new feature added this year).

Please return a Membership Application for each renewing member with your payment so we can keep track of each renewal. This is especially important if you are making a credit card payment for more than one member from your company.

We ask that you contact the TOCA office by November 15, 2011 with any changes to your contact information from last year so we can get the corrections into the online membership directory.

We look forward to you renewing your membership. We also hope you will ask others in your office to join TOCA who haven’t heard of us.

Please don’t hesitate to call the TOCA office with questions about your membership. Send inquiries to:

Kathy Heyda?, TOCA Membership Director
120 W. Main St.? • P. O. Box 156
New Prague, MN 56071
Office: 952-758-6340 • Fax: 952-758-5813

Download Membership Application Form Here


TOCA Scholarship Winner

Perhaps you know of some deserving student currently pursuing a career in green industry communications. A niece or nephew? The kid down the block who used to mow your lawn but now studies horticulture and marketing at Michigan State? Maybe it’s your intern, the one answering your phone as you read this very sentence. How about nominating him or her for a TOCA scholarship?

The TOCA Board of Directors will award one $2,500, fall semester scholarship (2012-2013 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.

Anna McIntyre from the University of Georgia was the 2011 TOCA Scholarship Winner.

Detailed information and applications are available at Deadline is March 1, 2012, but it’s never too soon to identify, encourage and reward deserving students outstanding in the field. Or, on the lawn.


Environmental Communicator of the Year

As always at this time of year, TOCA begins its search for the next Environmental Communicator of the Year. Nominations for the 2012 winner are now being accepted. The award, sponsored by Project EverGreen, may be given to anyone in the Green Industry. It is presented each year at TOCA’s annual meeting and will be awarded for the 14th time, May 1-4, 2011 in Nashville, TN.

Anthony Williams of Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, Georgia was the 2011 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year — the association’s thirteenth recipient.


A Fond Farewell

Sadly, my good friend, B.J. Bilas, passed away in June at age 61 after a brief illness. B.J. was my client off and on for almost 20 years and was an early supporter of TOCA. He encouraged me to join and represent his company, Nor-Am, in the turf market. My first meeting was in 1994 and I’ve attended every year (save one) since then.

At Den’s suggestion, B.J. agreed to sponsor the shirts given away to all meeting attendees that year. The tradition stuck and has carried on through present day, with the sponsor’s name changing every few years as the companies evolved. After Nor-Am, it was Agr-Evo, then Aventis, then (and now) Bayer.

B.J. only attended one TOCA meeting (that I know of) but was a member for many years. He was always supportive and interested in our group. He moved on from communications manager at Nor-Am and Agr-Evo to Nu-Gro in Michigan, where he again handled the turf industry. When Nu-Gro eventually became Agrium, B.J. left the turf industry to return to his roots in agriculture.

A bit of a maverick, B. J. was the type of client any PR person would hope to have. He was full of ideas and dared to go the extra mile to try something new. A very colorful guy, he would sometimes rail about rules and corporate policies – but he had a heart of gold and never forgot a friend. He loved to talk! Whenever I’d send an e-mail, he’d call on the phone instead of responding in writing. But he stayed in contact with seemingly everyone he’d ever known through an extensive Christmas card list.

B.J. will be truly missed by TOCA – and everyone else whose lives he touched.

Submitted by Debbie Clayton


Member News

TOCA welcomes the following new member:

Jeff Nus, U.S. Golf Association


Calendar of Events


October 27-29      Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO)?Kentucky Exposition Center?Louisville, KY

October 28 / 7-7:45 a.m.?      TOCA Breakfast?Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C105?Louisville, KY


February 29 / 7 a.m.?      GCSAA Breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS)?Las Vegas Hilton, NV

March 1      ?Environmental Communicator of the Year application deadline

March 1?      TOCA Scholarship application deadline

March 15      ?TOCA Communications Contest entries due

May 1-4?            23rd Annual TOCA meeting?Hilton Nashville Downtown?Nash