TOCATalk – Fall 2013

Cranking Up the Intensity

By Jason Schmaderer
VP / Account Supervisor, Swanson Russell
President, TOCA Board of Directors

While a big portion of the green industry takes a deep breath as we head into the fall season, we know this time of year signals more than the return of football and milder temperatures. It’s planning season for many of us green industry communicators.

When I’m feeling extra creative, I envision TOCA members across the country (with Ride of the Valkyries playing in the background) donning pinstripe suits, lacing up loafers, sharpening pencils, erasing white boards and stocking mini-fridges in anticipation of the many 2014 planning meetings.

Yes, folks, our days – and nights – are getting intense. And let’s not even speculate how many concussions we might see this year.

Rest assured that TOCA is right in the middle of planning for 2014 as well. And, as you well know, 2014 is no small year around this organization. More than a few dedicated members are working hard to create a special 25th year for us. There are some great ideas in the works and I’m excited for you to see what’s we’ve got in store. But we’re not focused solely on our 25th anniversary. We remain focused on long-term plans and processes that, hopefully, will take TOCA on into the next 25 years on sound footing. While we want to celebrate our first 25 years, we are dedicated to the creation of an organization that is ready for the next two decades.

On that note, I’d like to salute our tireless staff and volunteers who are cranking up the intensity to make TOCA a better organization with each passing year. All of our hard work during this season of planning will pay off over the course of 2014 and beyond. If you are not currently participating in this process, I invite you to add your skills to one of our many committees. Give me a call at 402-437-6421 or email me at and I can help you find a way to get involved.

And don’t forget to RSVP for the GIE+EXPO breakfast sponsored by TOCA and Bayer (with room supplied by OPEI) for Friday, Oct. 25, 7 a.m., Room C105, Kentucky Expo center. The room is the same, the format the same. Free food, free discussion – and bring a prospect! See you there. Please RSVP.  Any questions, contact Den Gardner or Barb Ulschmid at 952-758-6340 or email to  Thank you – see you in Louisville!


25th Annual TOCA Meeting – “In the French Quarter Celebrating a Quarter Century”

By Den Gardner
Executive Director

John Fogarty of Credence Clearwater Revival couldn’t have said it better: “Wishin’ I were a freight train, oh, just a-chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.”

We may not have too many TOCA members “Born on The Bayou,” but it’s clear that TOCA members are ready to be “Re-Born On The Bayou” as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary meeting May 5-8, 2014.

The theme of our meeting is: “In the French Quarter Celebrating a Quarter Century.” And the meeting is set for the quaint and award-winning Hotel Monteleone, nestled beautifully within New Orleans French Quarter.

Recently, the hotel has won some new awards. First, Joey LeCour of the hotel staff won the WHERE Magazine’s Silver Plume Junior Concierge Award! The award is presented to a member of the New Orleans Concierge Association that provides exceptional service and has been a concierge for less than five years.

The hotel also was selected for three wonderful categories in Gambit’s Best Of New Orleans 2013: #1 for Best Hotel Bar, #1 for Best Non-Smoking Bar, and #2 for Best Hotel. On top of that, Hotel Monteleone has also joined forces with the historic Saenger theatre for its highly anticipated re-opening this year. The Monteleone will serve as the sponsor hotel for Broadway Across America and is thrilled to welcome all Broadway enthusiasts alike!

Although full details of the meeting in terms of the agenda are not totally locked in, there is much to report as a new format is coming that will provide more professional development, more variety of workshops, more reasons for you to attend this special anniversary meeting.

A shout-out to our annual program committee – Felicia Gillham, Kenna Rathai, John Reitman and Lacy Ravencraft – for their excellent work thus far.

The agenda is tentative at this point as many committees are working diligently to create a program that’s the best of TOCA’s 25 years. Here’s a brief sneak peak at the agenda as of mid-September.

  • Fully Sponsored Tour. New this year, and in celebration of our 25th anniversary, attending members can choose from a round of golf at the Audubon Park Golf Course, or a behind-the-scenes tour (lunch included)—each option fully paid for to encourage all to attend! The golf/tour will now be Wednesday afternoon, May 7, of this year’s meeting.
  • Done! Strategies For Regaining Command of Your Day. Join Paul Burton as he shares best practices for staying focused, getting more done, and enjoying greater personal and professional satisfaction. Get back in charge of your work and success with Paul’s two-dozen tips and techniques for increasing productivity and command over work and life. Paul H. Burton is a nationally recognized time management expert and creator of the revolutionary QuietSpacing® productivity method and speaks regularly to professionals about making better use of their limited time.
  • Best Practices Peer Round Tables. Choose the round table topic that most interests you in these facilitator-led, open peer discussion round table sessions. There will be something for everyone, with topics ranging from photography and going mobile to useful smart phone apps and best practices for production schedules for print/app/digital/web platforms. We’re still narrowing in on our topic selections, so if you have a suggestion, please email it to
  • Optional “Stay-Over” Tour. Join your TOCA peers and guests on Friday morning (after our meeting) for an optional non-sponsored Culinary Crawl in the French Quarter! Experience a cooking demonstration, learn the basics of Louisiana cooking, and appreciate the differences between Cajun and Creole cuisine as you tour historic restaurants and sample their culinary contributions.

Other “in process” and yet-to-be-confirmed sessions include:

  • Insight into Local Reporting: Representatives from the Times-Picayune, and CityBusiness (or equivalent) share their experiences reporting on local environmental issues—perhaps wetlands restoration or the gulf spill?
  • Tips for Today’s Multi-Tasking Interviewer: How to Successfully Integrate Video + Photography into your One-Man-Interviewing-Band.
  • And more!

Full details of the 25th Anniversary meeting and other activities slated for 2014 will be revealed to the membership at the GIE Breakfast and afterwards by email to all TOCA members.

Yes indeed: TOCA is set to be “In the French Quarter Celebrating a Quarter Century.”  See you there!


Phase II Development of Website Underway

By Brian Schoenthaler
Associated Integrated Marketing
TOCA Board Member

Work has begun on Phase II of the TOCA website which will include functionality improvements to several site areas, including the Membership, Event Registration and Contest Entry sections.

To facilitate these improvements, implementation of a more secure and personalized login system for the Members Area will be implemented, and will be executed as part of the Phase II improvements. This means that each user will receive their own unique user login upon membership registration with the ability to reset their logins. The new system will include “Forgot Username?” and “Forgot Password?” links that will facilitate easy email recovery of login information. This secured area will enable members to access and update their personal member profile information.

An enhanced member registration/payment system will recognize organizations with multiple members and provide them with the ability to sign up or renew memberships for the whole group rather than one at a time. The system will automatically track fees/dues and charge the appropriate amounts ($125, first member/$75, additional members) thanks to the unique membership logins described above. This will allow one person to put these fees on one credit card rather than requiring individual transactions. Members will have the option to pay by check or pay online using the PayPal system that was initiated in Phase One of the system. PayPal allows for payment via credit cards but does not require a PayPal account to make those payments.

Another Phase II enhancement will be noticeable in event registration and payment. The website currently provides a downloadable form for event registration which must then be filled out by hand and payment made through the site, or by mail. The improved system will allow users to enter the member’s name, guests accompanying the member to the event, and make payments online. The form will also include a link to the event hotel, along with the corresponding TOCA group number that qualifies the member to receive the group rate, and allows the member to easily make their own hotel reservations. Members will also be able to sign up themselves and their guests for extra curricular activities such as golf and site-seeing tours. Once again, payment options would include pay by check or online.

Finally, Phase II will feature an enhanced contest entry, functionality and payment system. This system will be located in the Member Area that will require login access. The Contest Entry Form will provide the member with the ability to fill out an entry, and click “Add Another entry” to enter additional contests. Because this system is located in the Membership Area, the member filling out the form(s) will be able to “save” the entry form(s) progressively and complete them in multiple sessions, if necessary, before submitting them all at one time. The system will be set up to track the number of entries and total payments and once again, allow for payment by check or online.

Plans are to have Phase II live by October 1, 2013.


Shining a Spotlight on TOCA Award Winners

By Debbie Clayton (ClaytonHimes PR)

Each year, winners take their bows at the TOCA Awards Ceremony, then quickly fade from the spotlight. Our TOCA Professional Development Committee wanted to extend their moment of fame – and share their strategies – by highlighting 2013 Gardner Award winners in this newsletter. We’ll be handling their stories in the next few issues.

First up:  Committee Member Kyle Brown (GIE Media) spoke to Patty Vaughan, online managing editor for Total Landscape Care, about her publication’s 2013 “New Media – Publishing” Gardner Award for its Social Media Campaign. Here’s what she said:

Kyle:  Could you please briefly describe your winning project?

Patty:  Our objective was to publish and share original material on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and any other social media platform available. We strategically used campaigns consisting of photos, videos and written features to share with our readers.

Our campaign categories included: holiday themes, industry tips, Editor’s Picks, giveaways and more. Some of our campaigns lasted several weeks and others lasted several months.

The project is an on-going initiative to develop, grow and sustain online growth through social media platforms for Total Landscape Care magazine.

Kyle:   I know your name is on the award, but who else should be recognized?

PattyThis project is a continuing effort by a team of individuals involved with Total Landscape Care magazine:  Lauren Heartsill Dowdle, Editor-At-Large, played a large part in the operation, as well as Marketing Manager Ashlee Potter.

Kyle:  What was your strategy in approaching this work? What influenced your approach?

PattyThe strategy behind our successful social media campaign was listening to our audience. We worked together to create the best content possible to share with our readers and found ways to distribute information creatively across all of our social media channels. By creating a game plan, sticking to that game plan and having the ability to adapt in a changing environment, we were able to be successful. 

Kyle:  What do you think helped you win this year?

PattyCompanies throughout the world are finding the secrets and benefits of using social media, and we found a few of our own secrets in making the most out of sharing content on a new and innovative platform. Growing audience online is a huge part of the game, and we like to think we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to adapting and moving forward with new technology, resources and opportunities.

Next up, Committee Member Jessica Simpson (Swanson-Russell) spoke to Mark LaFleur, Syngenta Communications Lead for Turf and Landscapes, about Syngenta’s 2013 Special Projects Gardner Award for his entry “Daconil Action On the Course” which he worked on with Gardner & Gardner Communications.

Jessica:  Could you please describe your winning project?

Mark:  Top trade media editors were invited to an event, Daconil Action On The Course, to show that Daconil Action fungicide helps superintendents get their jobs done, and that Syngenta strives to learn more about their customers’ needs by connecting with them personally.

The event was held on Pinehurst Resort’s course No. 2 (future site of both the men’s and women’s 2014 U.S. Championships), a legendary course that had just undergone a radical, historic renovation. The morning consisted of each editor visiting “stations” where Syngenta’s top executives were getting down and dirty helping superintendents do their morning chores (cutting cups, raking bunkers, mowing, etc.). Each editor had the chance to take photos and interview Syngenta executives on a one-on-one basis.

The day ended with a 9-hole scramble tournament, where Syngenta executives were paired up with editors, offering yet another connection point.

Jessica:  Anything else you’d like to share?

Mark:  Editors received a welcome packet when they arrived that included the day’s agenda, a Pinehurst No. 2 hat embroidered with Daconil Action, bottle of water, Pinehurst information, source bios, story starter document, R&D fact sheet, Daconil Action Q&A and tech bulletin. At the afternoon news conference they received a Syngenta notebook and jump drive with the new fungicide information including launch news releases and product photos.

Finally, Committee Member Rob Stevenson (Canyon Communications) interviewed Nicole Wisniewski, senior project manager for Davey Tree Expert, about the company’s 2013 Marketing Communications Gardner Award for New Media.

Rob:  Tell us a little about your strategy for this award.

NicoleIt is commonly said a business brand is defined by what customers and employees say when its executives aren’t in the room. Today, that “room” has taken center stage on the social web, shaping a company’s brand by the words and experiences of its customers and those who influence them.

To connect with and respond to a growing “connected” customer base, The Davey Tree Expert Company’s marketing and communications team decided they needed to communicate with consumers through a variety of social media channels – in a place where consumers could get relevant, factual and fun tree care information and not feel lectured.

Rob:  Okay, can you describe what you did to enhance social media?

NicoleDavey Tree created social spaces where stories are shared about personal landscape experiences, historical tales of celebrity trees, as well as quick tips consumers can use to better care for trees.

We just did what we love to do every day:  talk about trees. A big part of our social media plan was to embrace trees and landscapes and share that passion with people.

Rob:  What were your results?

NicoleBecause of Davey Tree’s social media efforts in the last two years, Facebook likes have grown by 61 percent and Twitter followers by more than 136 percent.

Rob:  Anything else you’d like to share?

NicoleDavey Tree’s social media efforts have successfully engaged customers with relevant content that involves consumers in conversations vs. lectures. This greater appreciation for nature further inspires people to come together to find the beauty in trees, driving consumers to take better care of their trees. Ultimately, this approach continues to result in positive growth for the Davey Tree Expert Company.


TOCA Announces 2014 Scholarship Program

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 marketing and landscape architecture at the University of Oregon? 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 (2014-2015 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.

Matthew McKernan was the 2013 TOCA scholarship winner and attended the TOCA conference in Portland.

Deadline is March 1, 2014, but it’s never too soon to identify, encourage and reward deserving students outstanding in the field. Or on the lawn.

Download the Scholarship Application Form here.


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 2014 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 16th time, May 6-9, 2014 in New Orleans, LA.

Phil Fogarty of Weed Man and Crowley’s Vegetation Management, was recognized as the 2013 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year recipient; the association’s fifteenth recipient.

Download the Environmental Communicator of the Year Form here

Den, Phil and Cindy


TOCA Announces Second Year of Internship Program

By Den Gardner

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) announces year two of the TOCA Internship Program. Sponsored by Bayer, the internship program involves the selection of a college student for an eight- to 10-week summer employment with a Green Industry publication that’s a member of TOCA. A selection committee will choose the student for the internship.

The 2013 intern was MariClaire (Molly) Bealin of John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio. Molly interned at Landscape Management magazine (part of North Coast Media).

Marisa Palmieri, editor-in-chief of the magazine, said this about Molly’s internship during the summer: “We were very excited to have won the first TOCA internship and to host Molly Bealin at North Coast Media for the summer. She did print and online reporting and writing for both Landscape Management and Golfdom, and no doubt got a good taste of the turf and ornamental markets. Thanks to TOCA and Bayer for launching this program.”

The intern will receive a $3,000 stipend (to be paid by TOCA).

“We are thrilled to again be implementing this program through TOCA,” said Scott Welge, head of marketing for Bayer’s Professional Lawn and Golf businesses. “It’s important for young college communicators to better understand the Green Industry and an internship at a major TOCA publication is one step in the right direction in that learning curve.”

TOCA Executive Director Den Gardner adds that Bayer’s new Platinum Sponsorship of TOCA is just one of the new initiatives to be undertaken by TOCA in the years ahead. “The internship is one important program for TOCA, and more new initiatives are also underway. These programs are being made available through our new sponsorship program with Bayer. Stay tuned for more programs as part of TOCA’s new strategic plan as we move closer to 2014 and our 25th year of existence.”

Publishing companies wishing to host the intern should fill out the host application form on the TOCA website. Deadline for the host application is Dec. 31.

Students wishing to apply for the 2014 summer internship program need to fill out the application blank on the web site. Deadline is Feb. 28, 2014. Go to for the application blanks.


(Editor’s Note:  The following article is the first in a series of profiles about TOCA members. Conceived by the TOCA Professional Development Committee, this column is part of an effort to add value and contribute content to the newsletter. Enjoy!)

Learn more about your TOCA team

TOCA Member Profile #1: Jason Schmaderer
By Ciara Ahern (Global Prairie)

Jason Schmaderer serves as president of TOCA and as VP / account supervisor at Swanson Russell. He lives in Lincoln, Neb., with his wife and children, and enjoys reading, running, traveling, and spending time with his family. Jason is an experienced marketing communications strategist focused on creating high value engagement between brands and customers. An enthusiastic manager, Jason is dedicated to growing skills and expertise – a passion we see him bring to his role at TOCA. But there’s also a lot about Jason we didn’t know!

Q: As a travel-lover, where are some of the most interesting places you’ve lived?

A: “I’ve lived in Europe on two separate occasions. Junior year of college in Glasgow, Scotland and a year teaching English in Budapest, Hungary. I also turned 21 and 25 in Barcelona – my favorite city.”

FUN FACT: “I was once chased by a mob of soccer hooligans in Glasgow, Scotland following a Celtic-Rangers match.”

Q: What are you passionate about? Any favorite hobbies?

A: “The two “R’s”: running and reading. I’ve been a runner since junior high many, many years ago and haven’t stopped since – though I’ve slowed down a bit (I still hold my high school mile record!). I’m also a former English major who has never fully overcome a love for literature.”

FUN FACT: “My first job out of college was in a taquería in Portland, Ore. To this day, I would still eat Mexican food every meal if my wife would let me.”

Q: What about your dreams for the future?

A: “I think my dreams are coming true one day at a time:  being a ‘present’ father and husband, an active and engaged community member, a caring and effective manager for my work teams, and a strategic counselor for my clients.

FUN FACT: “I’d also like to run a 38 minute 10k and do some more teaching and traveling.”

Q: As a reading addict, are there authors/books you most recommend?

A: I’m a big fan of author Michael Chabon (among many, many others), primarily because of his prose style and his ability to combine pop culture with literary fiction. My favorite book changes regularly, but in general I’ve always loved the great Russian novels: The Brothers Karamozov, Fathers and Sons, War and Peace, and Crime and Punishment.”

FUN FACT: “I’m currently reading as many Denis Johnson books I can get my hands on.”


Golfdom & The BoardRoom Magazines Partner on Content for Superintendents and Private Course Board Members

Golfdom, a publication of North Coast Media, announces a partnership with The BoardRoom, the official publication for The Association of Private Club Directors (APCD), to further strengthen and create a more efficient relationship between golf course superintendents and board members of private clubs across the United States and Canada, says the company.

The magazines’ partnership centers around Golfdom providing for each issue articles for The BoardRoom’s “Green” section. The BoardRoom will also periodically contribute content for Golfdom.


Landscape Management (LM) promotes Palmieri to editor in chief and names a new associate editor

North Coast Media promotes Marisa Palmieri to editor in chief of Landscape Management (LM) and adds Sarah Pfledderer to the new position of associate editor of LM.

Palmieri has won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named Palmieri a Young Leader.

Pfledderer is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University, where she majored in journalism and was an editor at the college’s newspaper, The Lantern. She has also interned at her hometown newspaper The Sidney Daily News, (614) Magazine, The Columbus Dispatch and was a writer in the communications department at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.


TOCA Membership Renewal for 2014

By Kathy Heyda, TOCA Membership Director

It’s that time of year.  TOCA will be emailing the 2014 Membership Renewal forms soon.   And TOCA is embarking on a mission to increase from 203 to 250 members in the next two years.  You can help us reach that goal.  One TOCA member is an investment of just $125.  Every additional member from your company is only $75.  Help us reach our goal and help TOCA grow.

If there is more than one TOCA member in your company, one person from the group will receive the email. He/she should pass a Membership Application form to the other members in the company who want to renew their membership.  Membership Applications can be found online at here.

Please return a Membership Application for each renewing member with your payment so we can keep track of each renewal.  You may pay dues with a CHECK made payable to the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association or ONLINE with a credit card (VISA/MC/AMEX) at  If you are making a credit card payment for more than one member from your company, you will have to renew each individual member.  As noted earlier, dues for the first person from the company are $125. After you enter the first person, you will receive a Group Number (by email) to use on each additional renewal after the first.  Dues for each additional person from the same company are $75 each.  In this way your company can save considerably per person by renewing as a group.
We ask that you contact the TOCA office by December 2, 2013, with any changes to your contact information from last year so we can get the corrections into the online membership directory.  All membership renewals for 2014 are due by December 31, 2013.

Some of the benefits of being a TOCA member:

• A quarterly newsletter which keeps members up-to-date on association activities

• An annual professional improvement meeting

• Webinars on writing, design, photography, social media

• A writing, photography, new media and design contest which recognizes members for outstanding communications in the industry

• A chance to develop contacts with TOCA members

• The annual TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year program which provides

a $500 stipend to the winner

• The opportunity to serve on various committees, including the Publishers Scholarship Committee, Annual Meeting Committee, Membership Committee and Awards Program Committee

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.

Den Gardner, Executive Director
Kathy Heyda, Membership Director
P. O. Box 156
605 Columbus Ave. S.
New Prague, MN 56071
Office: 952-758-6340    Fax: 952-758-5813


TOCA new members — welcome!

Colleen Clifford, Aquatrols
Heather Finney, PLANET
Nick Gadd, Aquatrols
Julie A. Gauntt, Ashby Creative
Michael Hanisco, Aquatrols
Sonia Myrick, PLANET
Lindsay Needham, Ewing Irrigation Products
Lisa Schaumann, PLANET
Helen Stone, Stone Peak Services


Calendar of Events | 2013-2014

October 23-25, 2013
Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO)
Kentucky Exposition Center
Louisville, KY

October 24, 2013
TOCA Board Meeting – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Louisville Marriott Downtown, Room: Win
Louisville, KY

October 25, 2013
TOCA Breakfast – 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.,
Bayer Media Conference – 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Kentucky Exposition Center, Room: C105
Louisville, KY

May 6-8, 2014 (Tues-Fri)
25th annual TOCA Meeting
The Hotel Moneleone
New Orleans, LA