TOCA Talk – Winter 2012

In this issue:


Happy New Year! 

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

Happy New Year!

I hope this issue of TOCA Talk finds you well rested, and energized for the year ahead. If you’re like me, you’ve come down off the holidays’ high, and have settled back into a nice routine. While I adore the extra time with family and friends that the holidays bring, there’s something comforting about returning to some semblance of normalcy.

Of course, with a New Year, I’ve added new activities to my checklist: more gym time; finding additional volunteering opportunities; and expanding my goodreads “already read” lists. I have no doubt that with some of these items I’ll be successful, and with others I’ll struggle.

There’s a list of resolutions, however, I’ve made a commitment to and I’m confident I won’t deviate from. Those are my TOCA resolutions:?- Renew membership and find one more person to join.?- Enter the TOCA Awards.?- Get involved in a committee.?- Be a corporate sponsor.

TOCA – with its friends aplenty, easy attitude and benefits galore – can easily be taken for granted. But, I’m dedicating some real effort in 2012 to taking full advantage of all it has to offer. And I hope you’ll do the same.

Tell someone about us. Get (and stay) actively involved. Help us thrive and grow. I’m excited about the good things 2012 will bring us alland trust you’ll do all you can to help make it happen. 

Best wishes for a successful New Year!

“Hit the Right Notes in Nashville!” – Fall Reprise

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 third 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. TheTOCA meeting for 2012 finds us 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.

Otherwise, the program will be similar to Ashville 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!

TOCA AGENDA (Oct. 25, 2011 Tentative Agenda)

Nashville, TN, Hilton Nashville Downtown Hotel

Tuesday, May 1?

All Day – Taking Care of Business (Ad Hoc Business Meetings by TOCA members at leisure)

2:00 p.m. – Board Meeting

6:00 p.m. – Board dinner and media only event

Wednesday, May 2

7:30 a.m. – Golf at Gaylord Springs Golf Links

8:15 a.m. – Optional Tour – Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art

Lunch at noon. Back to Hilton

1:30 p.m.?2:00 p.m. – TOCA Meeting Registration Opens

2:30 p.m. – Welcome: McGavock Edwards, President; Den Gardner, Exec. Director

3:00 p.m. – Environmental Communicator of the Year Award

3:15 p.m. – Green Industry End-User Panel Part I – Representatives from landscape management/lawn care, nurseries, irrigation and golf will discuss the industry, succeeding and thriving in this economy

4:15 p.m. – Break ?4:45 p.m. – End-User Panel, Part II

6:00 p.m. – Adjourn?7:00 p.m. – Opening Night Reception/Dinner

Thursday, May 3

?8:00 a.m. – Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – Communications Workshop – Part I “Online Writing and Communications” by Ann Wylie, Wylie Communications. A continuation from 2011.

10:30 a.m. – Break

11: a.m. – Communications Workshop – Part II “Online Writing and Communications” by Ann Wylie

12:00 p.m. – Lunch

1:15 p.m. – Time Management in Today’s Electronic Communications Environment – Nicholas Holland, VP, CentreSource Interactive Agency, Nashville.

2:45 p.m. – Break

3:00 p.m. – Video Workshop – How to Use/Incorporate Video for News/PR, etc. EPIC Creative

4:15 p.m. – Break

4:30 p.m. – Remarks by Board President McGavock Edwards

4:35 p.m. – Business Meeting – Election of board, scholarship winners announced, other appropriate business

5:30 p.m. – Adjourn

6:30 p.m. – Syngenta Reception

7:30 p.m. – Syngenta Awards Banquet Coordinated by: Two Rivers Marketing and IMRE Communications

9:30 p.m. – Concludes Awards Presentations

10:00 p.m. – Songfest

Friday, May 4

?Informal breakfast on own – head for home at leisure.


Changes coming to photo contest and more

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

TOCA’s very successful annual publishing and marketing communications contests will be undergoing some tweaks in the next year, most prominently being a change in the photo contest to encourage more entries.

Following the TOCA Board of Directors meeting in Louisville in October, these changes will be implemented for the 2012 contests:

1. Photo Contest. First, a photo committee was created with Scott Hollister chairing the group, along with committee members Tom Mentzer and Ron Hall. This group reviewed a number of issues related to the photo contest and its rules.

One significant change for 2012 will be that no longer will there be a requirement that images submitted for the photo categories be taken by a TOCA member. This has prevented many magazines from entering photos because many photos are done by freelancers and others. “Photos can be entered by a TOCA member, but the member does not have to have shot the images,” Hollister explained. “This will allow our members who have photography taken for magazines and newsletter or brochures to enter these in the contest.”

The committee also will review the categories and number of entries in 2012 to make other recommendations for future years. Some categories may be dropped, while some new categories, such as Best Use of Original Photography and Best Use of Stock Photography may be added and be part of the Design Contest. Details to come in future issues.

2. The deadline for submission to the TOCA contests will be extended to March 15. The TOCA contest, prior to the recession, had consistently garnered about 400 entries. It’s bounced back from about 300 two years ago to 318 in 2011. The TOCA board would like to see the contest reach back to at least 350 in 2012.

“The board feels the extra two weeks will give members more chances to prepare materials,” said McGavock Edwards, TOCA board president.

3. Entry fees and contest judging. TOCA has always had a policy of two judges working as a pair to judge a certain number of entries. Two judges may look at two or more categories and up to a total of 50 entries. To allow this number of entries to be judged to be reduced, the entry fees for 2012 will be increased from $30 per entry to $35 per entry. This is still a very reasonable cost compared to other professional communications associations. “This will allow us to get more judges in the contest,” Edwards said.

4. More promotion of the contest. The board also recommended that staff do more to promote the contest. There will be e-mail blasts on a regular basis from January through the March 15 deadline providing info on the contest.

In addition, more efforts will be made to reach out to companies that haven’t traditionally entered the contest.

For more information about the TOCA annual contest, please contact the staff by phone (952/758-6340) or by email:

Time Management for Creative Types

Find out how to get the most out of your workday. Spend an hour and learn how to:

  • Identify time killers
  • Email smarter
  • Use software to improve your workflow

Presenter: Mike Prokopeak, Vice President and Editorial Director, MediaTec Publishing

Date: Thursday, Jan. 26

Time: 2-3 p.m. EST

Click here to register

Thanks to Chuck Bowen and GIE Media, Inc., for their assistance in producing the webinar for TOCA.

Get With the (Strategic) Plan

By Jason Schmaderer, ?Swanson Russell
Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, in case you were wondering, the TOCA strategic plan wasn’t either. But thanks to some hard work by a number of dedicated TOCA members, we have a solid strategic plan in place to guide our organization for the next decade.

The goal of this plan is quite simple: to deliver value to all of you, our TOCA members. By doing this, we believe we’ll not only stay viable, we’ll grow.

Four committees are actively planning and implementing activities focusing on our key strategic initiatives: membership, professional development, sponsorship and communications. We are already benefiting from new professional development activities including more annual meeting seminars and ongoing webinars. You’ll begin to hear about new activities and initiatives from other committees during the course of the year.

But we need all the help we can get. Like any organization, we’re only as vibrant and creative as our membership. I encourage each of you to consider giving back a little time and talent as a member of one of our strategic planning committees. Email me or contact Den Gardner to learn how you can contribute to the success of this exceptional organization as we move into 2012.

Calendar of Events 

January 26, 2012?            January TOCA Webinar: Time Management for Creative Types, 2-3 p.m. EST

February 29, 2012?            Golf Industry Show (GIS)?GCSAA Breakfast Reception?7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.?Las Vegas Hilton, Room: Ballroom E?Las Vegas, NV

March 1, 2012?            Environmental Communicator of the Year application deadline

March 1, 2012?            TOCA Scholarship application deadline

March 15, 2012?            TOCA Communications Contest entries deadline

May 1-4, 2012?            23rd annual meeting?Hilton Nashville Downtown Hotel?Nashville, TN


Members News

By Kathy Heyda, ?

TOCA Membership Director


TOCA Membership Update

We have received 52 membership renewals since the renewal notices were emailed to everyone. We have also received 13 NEW memberships this fall. If you have not renewed your membership yet, please do that right away.

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) at www.toca.orgThis is a new member benefit this year. If you go to our website, look under Membership. At the bottom of the Membership page you will find the two options for payment.

TOCA membership, compared to other organizations, is a tremendous bargain. It’s only $125 per year for the first member from your organization and $75 for the second and subsequent members. In this way your company can save considerably per person by renewing as a group. Let us thank those companies and organizations who have continued to support us with a high level of 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.

TOCA welcomes the following new members:

Jamie Bagenstos, AKC Marketing

Ron Dekok, Agrium Advanced Technologies

Jason DeSarle, Landscape Management

Andrew Fereday, Agrium Advanced Technologies

Robert Goglia, Syngenta

Andy Kaler, Dow AgroSciences

Dave Loecke, PBI/Gordon

Lou Meyers, Agrium Advanced Technologies

David Olson, Ewing

Laura Ness Owens, Bobcat/Doosan

Stephanie Schwenke, Syngenta

Alan Whitney, Agrium Advanced Technologies

Pat Willenbrock, Syngenta


GIS Reception

TOCA members attending this year’s Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas, NV (2/29/12) are encouraged to visit the annual TOCA GIS Breakfast Reception. Join us Wednesday morning at the Las Vegas Hilton, Ballroom E, for a delicious buffet, an update on TOCA topics and some otherwise scintillating conversation. The breakfast runs from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. We thank PBI/Gordon, Gardner & Gardner Communications and GCSAA for their support.

Call us at 952.758.6340 if you haven’t RSVP’d for the event or e-mail us at

See you there!


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.

Anthony Williams, director of grounds for Stone Mountain Golf Course in Stone Mountain GA, is the 2011 TOCA Environmental Communicators of the Year; the association’s thirteenth recipient.

Download the Environmental Communicator of the Year Form here


TOCA 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 Minnesota? 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? 

Anna McIntyre was named the 2011 TOCA Scholarship winner. Currently a Junior student at the University of Georgia. Anna is majoring in ag communications and education, with a minor in horticulture. Her current goals are to work in public policy, be an educator and ultimately own her own greenhouse and landscape business.

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. 

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.


TOCA International Contest

TOCA will again conduct a program for international entrants in the 2012 TOCA Communications Contest. E-mails were sent in early January to international corporate folks and international turf publications to encourage participation. Interested parties will be directed to the TOCA Web site for more information. Entries must be in English and will compete only with other international entries, not in the general U.S. TOCA contest.

Last year’s First Place winners included Brett Robinson, Australian Turfgrass Management Magazine (Photography), Jo Corne, Australian Golf Course Superintendents’ Association (Design Two – Best Design Publication – one-page design), Alan Mahon, Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (Design Three-Best Design Publication – two-plus page design), Jo Corne, Australian Golf Course Superintendents’ Association (Design Three-Best Design, Brochure), Bret Robinson, Australian Turfgrass Management Magazine (Writing One & Two).

Entry fees will once again be waived for the 2012 contest, which is sponsored by Syngenta International Professional Products.


Professional Development

By Billy R. Sims

Find a Mentor

To be the best in your endeavors, model yourself after the best.

Total Landscape Care, the magazine I edit, unveils the winner of its annual Landscaper of the Year Contest this month, and I was struck by how the winners, Bill Henkel and Gordon Denmark of Henkel Denmark, Lexington, KY, are “lifelong learners.”

They leveraged their combined experience and talents into a partnership that made their business lucrative and rewarding. Their projects are beautiful and inspiring. They treat employees like family.

But they’ve also enlisted help and advice along the way.

Even though they each had some 22 years in the landscaping business before forming their partnership in 1999, in their first year together, Henkel and Denmark asked Rod Bailey, a former president of PLANET, to help create their estimating, tracking and operations systems.

“Rod also helped with our business plan, ” Denmark says, “and he’s still with us today. I talk with him once or twice a month.”

Denmark likens finding a mentor to “going to a marriage counselor. You may think the relationship is fine, but an objective perspective will lead you to realize you have a lot of work to do to keep it healthy for the long haul.”

Such was the case again a few years later, when the firm worked with another mentor, provided via PLANET, who focused on their design/build operation.

“It shook things up a bit,” Denmark says. “But the result was our gross margin improved because we started measuring it more carefully.”

I followed Denmark’s advice when I took up traditional basket making as a hobby a few years ago. I sought out the best basket makers in the country, and asked several if they would “look over my shoulder” as I progressed with the craft.

One, in particular, Leona Waddell, an 83-year-old white oak basket maker in Kentucky, took me under her wing. It’s not always been easy. When she doesn’t like what I’m doing, she’ll simply reach over and take the basket I’m weaving away from me, and finish it. It’s been a give and take process.

But next year, one of my baskets is headed for the Smithsonian Museum permanent collection.

I’ve discovered from my own experience and that of others that it pays to seek out a mentor- and never stop learning.

TOCA now sponsors a mentor program for all members. For more information, contact: Debbie Clayton ( or Felicia Gillham (


Scholarships available

Lawn & Landscape, and its parent company, GIE Media, the leading media company serving the lawn and landscape, golf course, nursery, greenhouse and garden center markets, has established a fund to support academic scholarships for outstanding college students focused on leading in the green industry.

GIE Media is giving away two $5,000 scholarships.

To be eligible for an academic scholarship or an internship program, you must be enrolled at a recognized two-or four-year college or university working toward a degree in horticulture, environmental science or other field related to a segment of the green industry.

Applications must be postmarked by April 15, 2012.

Click here to download the application. Please print off and fill out the form completely, then mail it to Chuck Bowen, Lawn & Landscape, 4012 Bridge Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44113.