TOCATalk – Spring 2015

TOCA Talk is proudly sponsored by BASF.


What’s the Value? JasonSchmadererPhoto.web

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

If your work routine looks anything like mine, you dedicate a noticeable portion of your time each week to professional development or some type of industry support. We’re all familiar with—or actively engaged in—local chapters of marketing organizations such as NAMA, PRSA, AMA or AAF or others in an effort to connect and grow.

Our employers allow us to spend time and money doing this because they understand there’s something in it for them. Whether it’s professional growth, relationship building, business development, recruitment or other reasons, our involvement is an investment that probably comes with an expectation of positive return.

So, I ask: what’s the positive return from your commitment to TOCA?

As a long-time member, I’ve had some time to give this some thought. I’ve also been asked a few times to clarify the value. I suspect that if I asked every member of the association, I’d probably hear something a little different. That’s OK. We’re all at different places in our careers and we have slightly different reasons for joining TOCA.

As I finish out my term as president, it’s become clear to me that the most critical thing we can do as an organization is to focus on providing value. I happen to think we’re doing a pretty good job but I’m not ready to tell you we’re perfect. What I can promise you though, is that we’re ready to do more. If you have an idea or a perspective that could help us to provide more value for you or other members, we want to hear about it. And then, we want you to help us make it happen.

If you’re communicator working in the green industry, you need to recognize that participation in TOCA is essential. We’re getting there, and I’m confident as I pass the torch into the capable hands of Mr. Scott Hollister, we will continue to look for ways to help our members do their jobs better, understand the industry in a deeper way and have some fun along the way.

Thank you for the opportunity you’ve provided me to serve as president the last several years. I look forward to seeing all of you at the annual meeting in Milwaukee and celebrating a little TOCA value.

Jason Schmaderer


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 26th Annual TOCA Meeting – “Made In Milwaukee”

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Cheeseheads here we come! OK, it’s a little trite to categorize all from Wisconsin as cheeseheads, but between certain TOCA staff from Wisconsin and all our TOCA members from that great state, it’s a natural. Say, did you hear this one: What’s the most popular American cheese sitcom? Curd Your Enthusiasm.

But I digress. I’m supposed to be promoting our 26th annual TOCA meeting in Milwaukee May 5-7. You know, the one where there’s professional development, award presentations, networking and so much more besides. It’s TOCA’s start of its next quarter-century of activity for the Green Industry.

So, take a moment, close your eyes, and know that our volunteer committee is going to make this year’s meeting and its theme: “Made in Milwaukee” an unforgettable three days of brats, beers, cheese and so much more. Milwaukee is our 26th different city for a TOCA annual meeting and you’re all invited.

The agenda is at the end of this article. You can also see it at the TOCA web site: We are continuing with the revised format we started last year to provide more professional development, more variety of workshops, more reasons for you to attend the annual meeting.

Here are the highlights:


  • Arrivals Tuesday during the day. Ad Hoc business meeting. (Board meets from Hotel Lobby2-5 p.m., followed by dinner.) Informal TOCA member gathering in the hotel is set for 6 p.m.


Revised format first used last year again begins the program on Wednesday morning.

  • The program will include recognition of our student scholarship, Plant Health Writer of the Year and Environmental Communicator of the Year winners.
  • Future of the Green Industry panel. Leading Green Industry participants – Chris Kujawa, president of KIE, Inc., golf course superintendent Bryan Bergner, Linda Beattie of Schiller Grounds Care and Roger Blair of Jasperson Sod Farm will frankly discuss where the industry is heading as the economy continues to rebound.
  • Tour and golf Wednesday afternoon. Looking for a close-up grounds view of Miller ParkMiller Park? Or the land scaping and education efforts of green spaces at the world-famous Mitchell Park Conservancy – The Domes? Then sign up for the afternoon tour. If it’s golf you’re interested in, the championship Brown Deer Golf Course, one of the premier golf courses in the city of Milwaukee, has been booked. Details will be available soon.Brown Deer Golf Course
  • The opening night reception. The off-site reception will be held at the scenic Lakefront Brewery.


  • The Second Annual TOCA Three-Mile Run for Fun (and we do mean fun) is scheduled for early morning. Route details are on the web site.
  • New Insights into Creative Writing for Business-Business Publications. Pulitzer-prize winning writer Jacqui Banaszynski, Poynter Institute and University of Missouri School of Journalism Knight Chair, will inform and educate our members about new ways to write creatively for our publications and for company newsletters and other publications.  
  • Breakout Sessions. Tips, Tricks & Techniques: Talk Amongst Yourselves — Best Practices Roundtable Discussions return for year two. There will be three roundtables and you can choose two during two, 45-minute sessions. (Roundtable leaders will be Banaszynski, continuing her theme from her earlier presentation; Pat Jones, publisher at GIE Media, social media metrics; and Anna Baxter Kirk, Bader-Rutter, agile marketing feedback loops)
  • Horticulturalist Melinda Myers on Consumer Perceptions. Nationally-syndicated speaker Melinda Myers will discuss consumer perceptions of the Green Industry and focus on better ways to communicate responsible use of products for the lawn and landscape industry to TOCA member readers and purchasers of products.
  • Something new – Break-out Sessions by TOCA Committees. Committees old and new will organize (with your help) to help set the direction for TOCA for the rest of 2015 and 2016.
  • Business Meeting concludes afternoon. Are you ready for excitement? The business meeting brings members up to date on all the activities of the organization, including the new foundation, our efforts to grow internationally in Great Britain and more.
  • Evening Awards Reception/Banquet. Learn about our communications contest winners and the TOCA Hall of Fame inductee.

Yes indeed: TOCA members are ready to be “Made in Milwaukee!” Thanks to our Downtown Milwaukeeannual program committee of volunteers — Lyle Orwig, Dave Harding, Sara Bojar, Alane Saphner, Nicole Wagner and Jason DeSarle – for their excellent work.

Sign up for the 2015 TOCA meeting now!  Click here for registration form.

Click here to see the full meeting agenda.



The Envelope, Please – 25th Annual TOCA Communications Contest

By Kristy Mach, Contest Administrator

Congratulations on making it through another season of entering the annual TOCA Communications Contest!  There were nearly 400 entries in the competition this year. Entries are heading to the judges and the TOCA Awards will be announced at our annual meeting in May.

Feedback, please.  This year we moved to an entirely online entry system, hosted by BetterBNC. Contestants have been providing feedback and so far it’s been positive.  As our industry evolves, so should the contest.  Some have suggested new contest categories or enhancements to the process.  I want to hear from you.  Please email me with any suggestions to categories, the process, you name it.

Our goal is to make entering our contest as easy as ever.

10th Annual TOCA International Communications Contest

Now it’s time for our International counterparts to shine.  We want to showcase the best of the best in the international arena.  Deadline for entries is April 1, 2015.  Unfortunately, the BetterBNC online system is not set up to receive the international entries, but that is an enhancement for the future.  Click here for categories and the entry process for the international contest.


Illinois State Junior Ready for Internship at Total Landscape Care

Illinois State Junior Melanie Krawczyk has been chosen as the 2015 TOCA intern. She will be interning with Total Landscape Care (Randall Reilly) and reporting to company editor Marcia Gruver Doyle.

Melanie, originally from Poplar Grove, IL, has interned previously at a landscape company. Her goal, once that first communications job is obtained, is to communicate the benefits of community gardens in urban areas. “This internship will be a great opportunity for me to become a stronger, more confident writer,” Melanie says. “In my previous internship I made slide shows of plants for customers and am ready to take bigger responsibilities.”

The program is underwritten through the TOCA Foundation from Bayer.


Gardner Award Winners Take a Bow

(This is continuation of the Professional Development Committee’s goal to feature the Gardner Award winners each year. These will be the final Q&As with the 2014 winners. Next issue will spotlight 2015 winners!)

Lauren Heartsill DowdleFirst up, Debbie Clayton spoke to Lauren Heartsill Dowdle, winner of the Gardner Award for websites for*

Could you please briefly describe your winning project?

The Total Landscape Care website,, not only showcases magazine articles, but it also features blogs, news stories, giveaways, social media feeds and downloadable safety information.

What were your objectives and strategies in approaching this work? What influenced your approach?

We wanted the website to become a part of landscapers’ daily routines. So, we posted daily blogs, added our Twitter newsfeed, created a slider that featured the top daily story, wrote daily news stories and promoted contests (such as our Editor’s Picks Giveaway, Photo Contests, Pets We Dig, Landscaper’s Dream Package and Landscaper of the Year).

We also had a microsite that housed our Twitter chats and gave viewers the chance to download them and also reach out with questions. We wanted a site that made viewers want to come back again.

What do you think helped you win last year?

I think our site offered a ride range of information and was pushing the envelope within the green industry. Not only did we have magazine and news articles posted daily, we also had a blog and Twitter feed. To gain even more engagement, we had giveaways and an interactive Q&A social media page. The overall design also helped the site be more user-friendly.

Please give us a few examples of what you think stood out in your winning entry.

The daily aspects – blog, feature story, news articles and tweets – were the foundation of the site. But, I think the giveaways, photo contests, photo gallery, social media microsite and focus on viewer engagement made the site stand out. I also created a safety page where viewers could download PDFs of safety articles (in both English and Spanish).

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

Patty Vaughan and Emily Ezekiel, along with our web support team, also helped make this a winning project.


We won the award when I was the editor of Total Landscape Care magazine. Since then, I have left Total Landscape Care and am now the editor of a local consumer magazine. I also freelance for green-industry publications.


 Cindy Cody

Next, Kyle Brown interviewed Cindy Code about her Gardner Award for new website redesign for Project EverGreen

Project EverGreen Award

What was the overall goal in mind for the site’s redesign? Who all was involved in planning?

We wanted to give the site a fresh look and really accentuate the programs and projects that are at the heart of Project EverGreen. We wanted to capture the passion that individuals have for green spaces and highlight the benefits that improve peoples’ lives, their communities and their interactions with one another.

What was the process like? Was there a lot of discussion as the work was done?

Sure, the site’s look and feel evolved over time. It was a collaborative effort with Joe Shooner at Focal Point Communications. Joe is the webmaster for Project EverGreen as well as a passionate contributor as a member of our advisory council. We were striving for a clean, friendly look that immediately articulated the key benefits of green spaces and the delight that maintained yards, parks and green spaces.

What’s your favorite part about the finished, redesigned page?

The addition of videos. Videos really tell our story very well. They bring the projects to life, reflect the transformation of our revitalization projects and capture the emotion passion our volunteers have for giving back to their communities and to our military personnel.

What was your process like in submitting the page to TOCA? What did you try to accentuate?

It was fairly painless. We tried to emphasize the new look and feel and everything that went into the new design. We’re passionate about green spaces and pleased it came through via our application and final design.


TOCA Logo Hi Res

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

An enthusiastic group of communicators attended the annual TOCA membership Jason GIS Breakfastbreakfast in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Veteran TOCA members welcomed new members and prospects to a hearty breakfast before gearing up for a full day of interviews and meetings on the busy trade show floor. TOCA president Jason Schmaderer and president-elect Scott Hollister provided a membership update, plans for the annual meeting and a reminder to get their awards entries submitted via the new online application process. The breakfast was sponsored by FMC. Steve Fasano, marketing manager, and Jay Young, herbicide brand manager, for FMC Professional Solutions welcomed the members and thanked TOCA for providing a forum for professional communicators to collaborate.

GIS Breakfast GroupCindy Code, executive director, Project EverGreen, shared the non-profit’s plans to launch its Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.TM initiative in 50 locations this year.

The room for the breakfast was provided courtesy of GCSAA and Golf Course Management magazine. 


Spring Flowers

Calendar of Events | 2015

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! 

Justin Armburger, GIE Media
Lori Blennert, Elle Alexander
Guy Cipriano, GIE Media
Jim Gilbride, GIE Media
Nicole Gladden, Global Prairie
Keith Higginbotham, Moose River Media
Timmothy Merath, EPIC Creative
Williesha Morris, Randall Reilly Publishing
Chris Mosby, GIE Media
Dawn Pelon, New Holland
Craig Smith, GCSAA
Russell Sypowicz, GCSAA