TOCATalk – Fall 2014

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What do we stand for?Jason.image(3).web

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

Although I’m sure every member of TOCA recognizes this experience, I often find myself explaining what I’m talking about when I mention the organization to a colleague or industry acquaintance. I dutifully listen to the obligatory T-O-C-A! T-O-C-A! chant followed by a mild chuckle and then I explain what TOCA stands for.

But recently, I’ve been giving more thought to what we stand for. We’re a diverse organization of communications professionals representing a broad swath of industry interests. Are we simply the sum of our parts or is there a higher order principle behind what we do as an organization?

In addition to a basic commitment to improving our professional craft, I believe there are shared goals we should be working toward that benefit each of our organizations while also supporting the industry as a whole. Goals such as:

  • Effectively educating the customers and readers we serve
  • Raising a positive profile of our industries among the general public
  • Honestly acknowledging challenges we face as an industry and inviting a dialogue with all interested parties

As the communicators in this industry, this is our job, right? We have a responsibility to build the industry as well as our employers’ bottom line. And if we take this seriously, it requires the willingness to think twice about what we say, what we claim.

Focusing on our day-to-day routines and deadlines make it hard to keep some of these principles in mind. But that’s also the reason we need organizations like TOCA to break us out of the routine and remind us of some of these higher order goals. Especially because they’re not necessarily easy to accomplish when our immediate obligations may be much narrower in scope.

Don’t misunderstand; we’re not an advocacy group. We’re a professional communicators organization united through our work in the same industries. But we can make a difference for the industries we’ve come to love by recognizing that we can stand for something more than professional excellence.

So, the next time someone asks me what TOCA stands for they may get more than they bargained for. But I’d also love to hear what you think we stand for. Let the conversation begin.


A New Quarter Century of TOCA Begins – Let’s Have a Beer

By Den Gardner
Executive Director

It would be so easy to start with: “A hundred bottles of beer on the wall, a hundred bottles of beer, if one of the bottles should happen to fall… Well, you know the rest.

As TOCA enters its second quarter-century as a vibrant association meeting the needs of its more than 240 members, please put May 5-7, 2015, on your calendars as the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown welcomes members for the first time.

Although full details of the meeting in terms of the agenda are not totally locked in, there is much to report as the new format instituted last year will continue – with more professional development, more variety of workshops, more reasons for you to attend this annual meeting.

Thanks to EPIC Creative, a logo for the meeting is currently being developed. A shout-out as well to Charleston?Orwig, which will be assisting in some aspects of the meeting, along with Bader-Rutter.

The program committee is being led again by Lacy Ravencraft, who along with her stellar crew of committee members, developed one of the best professional development meetings in memory last year in New Orleans.

The agenda is very tentative at this point. But here’s a brief sneak peak at some topics for the agenda as of mid-September.

  •  Wednesday Tour. Attending members can choose from a round of golf OR a behind-the-scenes tour (lunch included) of something that makes Milwaukee famous. The golf/tour will now be Wednesday afternoon, May 6, of this year’s meeting. This is an event that members will pay for separate and apart from the registration fees.
  •  Best Practices Peer Round Tables. After the great success of last year’s round tables, they are back! 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 on all aspects of communications as it affects your day-to-day jobs in the Green Industry. We’re still narrowing in on our topic selections, so if you have a suggestion, please email it to
  • Milwaukee Shows Off the Green Industry. From leading equipment manufacturers (inside the Green Industry and out) to one of the largest and most innovative landscaping companies in the U.S. – KIE, Inc. (Kujawa Enterprises, Inc.), Milwaukee has plenty to offer TOCA members in terms of information and education on key Green Industry topics. Still to-be-determined is just what shape this portion of the meeting will take. Details to come later this fall.
  •  And more!

Full details of the 26th anniversary meeting and other activities slated for 2015 will be revealed to the membership at the GIE Breakfast in Louisville in October and afterwards by email to all TOCA members.

And remember the great words of this anonymous author: “I only drink beer on days that end in ‘y!’” Milwaukee here we come!


2015 applications are now online!

Plant Health Writer of the Year Application
Environmental Communicator of the Year Application & Details
Internship Host Application
Internship Application
TOCA 2015 Scholarship Application (PDF)

If you find you are having troubles downloading, please contact Kristy Mach at


Getting the Scoop on TOCA Gardner Award Winners

(Editor’s Note: The Professional Development Team continues its series on 2014 Gardner Award winners.)

First up: Debbie Clayton (ClaytonHimes PR) recently spoke with Kyle Brown, associate editor at Golf Course Industry magazine, about his 2014 Gardner Award for his podcast “Dog’s Best Friend.”

Could you briefly describe your winning project?

Kyle: “Dog’s Best Friend” is a feature podcast I did with golf course superintendent Bob Kohlstedt at Fox Bend Golf Course. I edited my interview with Kohlstedt and did my own voiceover work to lay out the story in a way that felt like a feature story should, to me.

What was your strategy in developing this podcast?

Kyle: It wasn’t as much a strategy as knowing when I came across his story that I needed to highlight his experience. Kohlstedt risked his life to save his dog in a flood, and when I talked with him, I knew his story was one that would resonate with our readers and, really, anyone who loves dogs. I wanted to let Kohlstedt tell his own story as much as possible, but I knew that it could be presented in a way that makes it come to life and brings the listener right into the moment.

Did the content come from your personal experience?

Kyle: Only as much as what I got from our interview. I grew up with several animals, so I know what it’s like to be passionate about a pet – I’m not certain I’d dive into a flood to save any of them, though. One aspect I really wanted to bring to this story was a strong narrative, but presented in an interesting way. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I definitely follow a few that I think know how to show off the best parts of a story, and I tried to draw on what brings me to those podcasts.

What do you think helped you win this year?

Kyle: I’d like to say I think it was a polished story with top-notch presentation and reporting, with an eye to the production of the feature podcast. But it was probably also because Kohlstedt’s story is incredibly heartwarming. The golf industry loves its dogs.


Next, Kyle Brown (of GIE Publishing) interviewed Roger Billings and Kelly Nies, of Golf Course Management, about their 2014 Gardner Award for “Printed magazine – Overall Magazine Design” for the April 2013 issue on “What’s the Buzz About?”


Could you briefly describe your winning project:

OH, you mean our “bee” issue? Yeah, because golf courses are becoming an unexpected ally in the effort to boost dwindling bee populations, our April issue of GCM was dedicated the research about….you got it! Bees! From a design perspective, we just created some “buzz”….

What was your strategy in developing this issue:

It took an entire colony to build this one! Brainstorming with editorial and reading through university research (at least looking through the pictures) we approached the design with a clean and organized style.

What makes the magazine’s design work for you:

The fact that it was consistent in quality and the subject matter was interesting so we enjoyed doing our best work. It’s like it was swarming with great image and editorial!

What do you think helped you win this year?

Planning, focus and a lot of hard work. (Bwahahahaha!)


TOCATalk Profile:  Patti DiMucci

As part of the TOCA Professional Development Committee’s mission to provide in-depth content to TOCATalk, we will be showcasing TOCA members throughout the year.  In this issue, Ciara Ahern of Global Prairie profiles active TOCA member, Patti DiMucci.

Patty DiMucci (3)Patty DiMucci serves on the TOCA Board, and as Marketing Communications Manager for Bayer’s T&O business. Patty joined Bayer in March 2011 and has been in her current role with the T&O business since Jan. 2013. An experienced marketing communications professional, Patty’s strong background in the beauty industry is something she finds exciting to apply to the turf industry. Patty previously served as director of consumer promotions for Maybelline Garnier in New York – and after relocating to the South for her husband – worked with Ogilvy, the Body Shop, and as stay-at-home mom (where she faced all-new challenges as Brownie leader and bread-baker extraordinaire). She lives in Cary, NC, with her husband, Nick, daughter Sophia and son Donovan.

Q: What was it like to make the transition from beauty to turf?

A: There are actually many similarities between the beauty and turf industries that people might not be aware of – which made the transition easier. For example, beauty is largely about formulation and application technology. The industry faces similar pressures, such as regulatory and FDA reviews to gain approvals after testing. The purpose of the products is to create beauty – whether it’s a person’s complexion or the beauty we’re trying to create in the environment.

FUN FACT:  Beyond the similarities between beauty and turf, the ultimate truth is that marketing is marketing – in that the same laws apply regardless of industry or market. By knowing your target audience, budget, goals and objectives, a launch plan comes to life naturally. This always makes me think of SNL’s “Shimmer Floor Wax” skit (“it’s both a floor wax and a dessert topping!”).

Q: What was a favorite memory from your time working in the beauty industry?

A: I got to meet a lot of celebrities while working in the beauty industry. My favorite celebrity I ever met was Laura Prepon (from “That ‘70s Show” and “Orange Is The New Black”). She was my favorite because we’re both fun-loving redheads, and she’s just like her character on “That ‘70s Show” – we bonded instantly.

FUN FACT: I also met an Oscar winner once. I was at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, where Halle Berry was having dinner, and I literally followed her into the bathroom to meet her (we had industry friends in common). She was so sweet and breathtakingly gorgeous.

Q: Is there an success or initiative you’ve been most proud of in the T&O space?

A: This year the highlight of my year was Pinehurst. It was my first major tournament and the work we did with the restoration was a source of pride specific to the T&O industry.

FUN FACT: Prior to our collaboration with Pinehurst and NC State, the highlight of my career at Bayer was sponsoring a NASCAR driver – I thought that was the best it could get! (Patty is a closet NASCAR fan.)

Q: I hear you’re a music lover. What are your top picks?

A: My first love is Jim Morrison, and the Doors and always will be number one – but I love British punk rock (the Clash, the Jam), classic rock (Pink Floyd) and alternative. My last name, DiMucci, actually relates to a famous rock-and-roll legend, Dion DiMucci (known for “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer” and, as part of Dion and the Belmonts, “A Teenager in Love”). Dion is my husband’s first cousin.

FUN FACT: A little-known fact about Dion is that he was supposed to join Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper on the tragic flight that crashed during their 1959 tour (memorialized in Don McLean’s “American Pie”). He said he couldn’t justify the indulgence of the $36 flight because it was the same monthly rent his parents paid for his childhood apartment – so he took the tour bus. Recently, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and got to see Dion’s exhibit and all the history firsthand – truly a special experience for me.

Q: Do you have any future goals or aspirations?

A: Get to Ireland and Italy before I die.

FUN FACT: Despite my last name, DiMucci, I’m actually Irish, married to an Italian. I am often told I seem to be 100% of both! Perhaps it’s my New York upbringing that helps bring out the Italian side.


What’s new in Professional Development?

TOCA’s Professional Development committee has been hard at work, and is making progress on many fronts. Here are a few highlights of our activity:

Poynter Webinar Series. We’ve partnered with the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) to offer an online learning series. Improve your writing, leverage “big data”, dive into social media tools and more. Take one class—or all five!—for a special discounted rate. Webinars are available through December 31, so don’t delay! Register at

2015 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee. The beginning phase of planning for the Milwaukee meeting is underway! We’ll soon be reaching out to our local members for some insider intel on all-things-Milwaukee, and hope to make this the best annual meeting program yet! Have programming ideas or topic/speaker recommendations—or just want to help? Contact Lacy Ravencraft. Special thanks to our host agency, Epic Creative! We look forward to working with you.

Content is King! We’re continuing our efforts to provide fresh and informative content in each issue of TOCA Talk, including award-winner profiles, member spotlights, and more. We’re also working to add helpful content to the TOCA website, including articles, committee volunteer opportunities and more.

Interested in joining the Professional Development Committee? Contact Board Liaison Debbie Clayton, or Chair Lacy Ravencraft,


TOCA Membership Renewal for 2015

TOCA will be emailing the 2015 Membership Renewal forms soon. Our membership is more than 240 and we are well on our way to our goal of 250 members by the annual meeting in May of 2015. The good news is we are growing and for that we say thanks to you. Now, more than ever, we need you to renew all of your members and maybe even increase your individuals within your company or organization. You can help us reach our goal and help TOCA grow.

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.

Please note that we have added an optional tax-deductible $15 contribution to membership dues for the TOCA Foundation, recently approved by the IRS as a stand-alone 501c3 non-profit organization. We will use this non-profit to increase our professional development and outreach to green industry communicators – young and old. If you prefer not to contribute, please notify the TOCA office at 952-758-6340 after you receive your membership renewal.

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  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 you can pay ONLINE with a credit card (VISA/MC/AMEX) at  Click on Membership.  Click on Why Join TOCA?  At the bottom of this page click on Join and 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 2015.

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 ask that you contact the TOCA office by December 31, 2014, with any changes to your contact information from last year so we can get the corrections into the online membership directory.  All renewals for 2015 are due by the end of this year.  We look forward to you renewing your membership.

Please don’t hesitate to call the TOCA office with questions about your membership. Den Gardner, Executive Director Kristy Mach, Membership Director P. O. Box 156, 605 Columbus Ave. S. New Prague, MN 56071 Office: 952-758-6340 Fax: 952-758-5813 Email:


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 24, 2014

Where: Kentucky Exposition Center, Room C105

Time: 7:15 a.m. – 8:00 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. Any questions, contact Kristy Mach or Barb Ulschmid at 952-758-6340 or email to

Thank you – see you in Louisville!


Calendar of Events | 2014-2015Fall Photo

October 22-24, 2014 Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO) Kentucky Exposition Center – Louisville, KY

October 22, 2014 TOCA Board Meeting – 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Kentucky Expo Center, RoomC110  Louisville, KY

October 24, 2014 TOCA Breakfast Reception – 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m.      Bayer Media Conference – 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Kentucky Exposition Center, Room: C105 Louisville, KY

November 19, 2014 Irrigation Show & Education Conference TOCA Breakfast Reception – 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 AM Phoenix Convention Center, Room: 228B, North Building, 200 level (second level) Phoenix, AZ

February 25, 2015 Golf Industry Show TOCA Breakfast Reception – 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Room: Bowie B (hotel’s second floor) San Antonio, TX

February 28, 2015 TOCA Internship Student application deadline

March 1, 2015 – TOCA Scholarship application deadline – Plant Health Writer of the Year application deadline – TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year application deadline

March 7, 2015 TOCA Communications Contest entries deadline

April 1, 2015 TOCA International Communications Contest entries deadline

May 5-7, 2015 (Tues-Thurs) 26th annual TOCA Meeting Milwaukee Marriott Downtown Hotel Milwaukee, WI


New TOCA Members – Welcome!

Laudan Fenster, PadillaCRT

Johanna Kelly, Caterpillar

Kari Soderberg, PadillaCRT