January 15, 2014
LO leaders engage members at Governance meeting
Leaders from LO's chapter and sector groups gathered at the home office to take part in the annual governance conference on Dec. 5.
Leaders from the nine Chapter boards and ten Sector Groups gathered at the Association’s home office on Dec. 5 for the annual Governance conference.

The event saw members examine the progress that has been made and address concerns and ideas on what improvements can be made to the association.

Paul Doornbos CLT, CLP, Thornbusch Landscaping Company in Lansdowne, welcomed the gathering of approximately 40 members, and provided some background on governance. “I have chaired this event for the past five to six years, and though at times it seems progress may be slow, we really have seen positive change.”

Bruce Morton CLP, CIT of Greenscape Watering Systems in Ottawa provided a progress report on items from the 2012 governance meeting. Following the opening presentations, the morning session was spent brainstorming around the three priorities of engagement, local relevance and sustainability.

A great deal of discussion was spent on engaging sector groups at the chapter level. Problems examined were the distance across the province, and how chapters are unaware of what takes place with sector groups.

Jay Rivait of the Windsor Chapter and Ed Hansen, president of the Ottawa Chapter, said their groups had a total disconnect with sector groups. They stated that geography and priorities were two factors.

Lexi Dearborn, president of the Georgian Lakelands Chapter said her group began coffee morning sector talks.

Solutions to create improved understanding of sector groups by chapters included better technology to improve communications at meetings, keeping www.horttrades.com up-to-date, Chapters inviting sector group representatives to meetings, and having a Chapter board representative report on Sector news.

LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni said, “We see local relevancy as the strength of LO, and this is unique in the world. We are who we are because you all care and took the time to be here. I want to thank everyone for their contribution; this contribution has carried forward and it’s infectious.”

Five suggestions were presented to improve engagement with sector groups. They are to publicize the sector group, communicate better between the sector group and chapter boards, hold online meetings, spread sector meetings to the chapters, and recreate the sector groups at the local level.

Areas discussed to improve engagement with chapters include networking between chapters to exchange information, develop a mentoring group for chapter development, develop a supportive culture in the chapters, orient the chapter boards, share information about how other groups develop events, shared speaker lists to develop an evaluation program for speakers, post information on a common site  (update your event reports on LinkedIn within the Governance group), develop more regional programs to be delivered online, personal invitations, make members feel welcome, have good topics, create template to encourage new members, visit other chapter meetings, create database of resources, training program for chapters, online chapter meetings, repository for chapter meetings, strengthen mentorship program for chapters, help chapters deal with what they need at the time they need it, develop performance metrics, develop spectacular chapter meetings with a very effective communication program and membership drive meetings.

Rachel Cerelli, membership coordinator at LO, who helped to organize the meeting, said, “I find this annual meeting to be very inspiring. The enthusiasm from the volunteer board members across the province is contagious.”