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Higher Ground: FNGLA is the Pulse of the Industry

Friday, December 22, 2017
Article by: Greenline

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A chill is in the air and the leaves are beginning to turn vibrant colors here in North Florida. Thank goodness hurricane season is finally over and the Holidays are quickly approaching. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and you were able to forget about work and the weather for at least one day. 

This is also the time of year when Gator fans and Seminole fans alike, eagerly await bowl games and the national rankings. Unfortunately, we are all more likely this year to watch the Hallmark Channel than football bowl games. 

As part of our chapter outreach, The Three Amigos recently attended FNGLA’s Action Chapter chili cook-off. We ate our weight in chili dogs and Shawn Thomas walked away with a $500 cash drawing, which he quickly donated back to the Chapter’s Scholarship fund. Folks, this is leadership by example! 
Earlier in the day, FNGLA’s Landscape Irrigation Technician Certification Committee met in Orlando to develop a statewide outline for testing and certifying landscape irrigation workers for knowledge and competency. It will be similar to FNGLA’s other professional certification programs with written and field exams. And, it could potentially lead to higher levels of landscape irrigation certification.

On September 28, the new FNGLA Landscape Irrigation Committee met for the first time at FNGLA’s office. The committee roster of 19 members includes landscape/irrigation contractors and designers; irrigation suppliers and manufacturers; UF/IFAS; and, water management districts.  And, it has a fair balance of folks from different parts of the state. There to facilitate the process were FNGLA staff - Ben Bolusky, Merry Mott and Billy Deal. Also, present were the three FNGLA officers to lend a hand when needed. 

Rick Manley of Juniper Landscaping of Florida (Fort Myers) was elected chair and three task forces were formed: Advocacy; Education; and, Public Relations. Each will wrestle with action items from the priorities and projects identified in FNGLA’s Landscape Irrigation White Paper report back to the full committee in January. We hope to create, strengthen and streamline a statewide uniform set of landscape irrigation design standards and build Florida partnerships to maximize landscape irrigation efficiency and achieve water savings.

On November 6, FNGLA was invited to participate in a meeting with Florida’s major agriculture associations in Gainesville. The meeting opened with a conference call with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to discuss the political situation in Washington and the need for flexible, supplemental USDA disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s destruction. This group of ag association leaders also discussed legislative issues at the state and federal levels. We also discussed ways to promote Florida agriculture and the need to meet more frequently as a group.

The FNGLA/PAC Annual Meeting was postponed this year along with The Landscape Show in September, so a conference call was held on November 30. As FNGLA-PAC chairman, FNGLA past President Paul Polomsky led the meeting which included a review of FNGLA-PAC finances, as well as recommended contributions to Florida House and Senate allies for their election campaigns. 

We discussed different ways to generate needed income for FNGLA-PAC given the pivotal election races in 2018 of state legislators and the four Florida Cabinet positions (Governor; Commissioner of Agriculture; Attorney General; and, Chief Financial Officer). We were also informed of two dark clouds advancing through the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.  They are proposals to mandate all Florida employers use the federal E-Verify automatic employment authorization, as well as a seeming ‘private right of action’ for anyone or group when their proposed “right to a clean and healthy environment” is perceived to be threatened. FNGLA is watching these initiatives very closely.

FNGLA staff and officers are determined to attend as many FNGLA Chapter Christmas Parties as possible - ‘Ugly Sweaters’ and all!  I wish to thank Colin Friedrich and 
the entire FNGLA Palm Beach Chapter for their gracious hospitality. We had a great time and it was well worth the drive to be with the volunteer leaders in your area of our state. Be on the lookout for a band of FNGLA “Gypsies in Ugly Sweaters” at a Chapter Christmas party near you!

Ed Bravo
Big Trees Plantation (Gainesville, FL)

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