The mask mandate is over.
It seems like everyone recently has a little extra pep in their step. Life resembles a somewhat normal state again. Combine that with the spring air and return to outdoor activity, and “revitalized” is the proper word for the feeling.
Speaking of revitalization, it is time to look at restoring the Oregon Association of Nurseries’ various chapters based on regions or industry segments. Unfortunately, the pandemic reduced and, in some cases, eliminated chapter gatherings. Things are about to change and chapter activity will go back to full steam engagement. I have appointed a new Chapter Revitalization Task Force with Ben Verhoeven of Peoria Gardens as the chair. Under his leadership from the nursery side and Stephanie Weihrauch on the OAN staff side, we will bring chapters back better than ever.
Chapters are vital to our industry’s success. We owe it to the next generation of nurserymen and women to bring this back and offer them the same benefits that we received from it.
When I talk to friends in the industry, I sometimes get the impression that we have all known each other for so long that gatherings aren’t necessary. We could accomplish what the chapters offered by picking up the phone and connecting with people on an individual basis. If we have an issue or an exciting innovation, it’s easy to reach out to a contact that can assist or learn from you.
How was contact initially made, though? From my own experience, I can say it was made through OAN gatherings in most cases. Many of us have been in the industry for so long that we have climbed the networking mountain and stood at the top. We know who to call for what we need, but that also means we can get complacent and lose sight of what got us there.
If that is you — if you wonder, “Why would I need to participate in chapters?” — if you tell yourself, “I have served my time in various association roles” — I challenge you to snap out of that thinking! Fight that apathy. Channel your inner John F. Kennedy and ask not what the association can do for you, but what you can do for the association.
This is a call to action for all nurseries to get involved with their respective chapters. Why? Because we need to continue the amazing Oregon nursery culture and educate the many people new to our industry as to what we are all about.
I have toured various nurseries in the past month. One of the surprising takeaways is the prevalence of youth on staff there. Our nursery alone has brought on 10 people under the age of 25 in the past few years, all rising stars in the nursery business.
We need to get younger nursery professionals engaged in the nursery chapters so that they can continue to nurture and grow the Oregon nursery culture. I know I have talked about this a lot, but what this industry offers from nursery to nursery is a genuine feeling that we all care about each other’s success. That is what makes us different and what I think attracts people to our industry. We love what we do, and we love the people we do it with, no matter if it’s our competitor, family, friend, or neighbor.
Are you a young person in the industry ready to accelerate your knowledge of the industry? When the chapters start up again, get involved. It will be one of the most rewarding things you do.
Are you someone that manages young people? Please encourage them to attend events and even pay them for their time there. What you get back from them will be the best return on a small sum of money you will ever spend. So do it for them, do it for your business, and most importantly, do it for the industry.