2012 Portland Regional Grounds Management Seminar & Site Visit a Success!

In the same week that Pat Sajak and Vanna White were in Portland, Ore. testing students from the University

of Washington, Washington State and Portland State on “Wheel of Fortune,” PGMS and 45 of its members were in town participating in another dynamic regional seminar and site visit.

Coordinated by PGMS North West Regional Director Gerald Landby, CGM of Carroll College in Helena, Mont., the Portland event drew rave reviews from its attendees. An extra benefit to this event was a registration to visit the trade show of the International Society of Arborists (ISA).

The program kicked off with four exceptional education classes including:

“Irrigation Practices and IPM Practice – City of Portland Parks and Recreation” as presented by Gordon Kunkle and John Reed. The presentation provided key components to a successful water conservation program and identified problematic challenges. Return on investment and water use trends were highlighted, plus a few weather-based scheduling tips were given to simplify the overall system management. The session covered a background of Portland’s IPM program, its history, implementation and policies.

“Utilizing Performance Evaluations” with Kris Codron of Lewis and Clark College Human Resources, in Portland, Ore. followed. Kris provided great insight into how performance evaluations, which can feel like a great big HR chore, can be extremely valuable if done correctly. This presentation focused on how to use performance evaluations to re-engineer your team, identify and reward star performers, set SMART goals, and provide effective feedback.

After a short break with supporting sponsors Davey Tree, Toro and Walker Mowers, Bob Kief and Joe Kovolyan of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. reviewed “Master Plans at University of Puget Sound” and demonstrated how the plan establishes a tool to use in stewarding a maturing campus and guiding the conservation and development of this unique liberal arts college campus. The session focused on the grounds improvements and how maintaining a high quality standard requires consistency in approach and sensitivity to what makes the campus such a great landscape.

The final education session before participants climbed aboard the tour buses for a great afternoon visiting Portland’s Japanese Gardens, Rose Gardens and Arboretum, was “Horticultural Myths” with acclaimed blogger Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University-Puyallup Research and Extension Center. The seminar presented a diagnostic approach to discovering the cause behind landscape failure. Attendees were surprised to learn that many landscape plants die because of avoidable errors in selecting, transplanting, and maintaining trees and shrubs. An alternative set of suggested best practices was presented based on recent and on-going research.

After the very informative education programs it was on to the site tours! When visiting the gardens mentioned above, the group divided into thirds so that participants could get a more up-close and personal view of the plants and discuss management strategies. When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunago, the former Ambassador of Japan to the U.S., visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” Nestled in the scenic hills of Portland (from one point guests can look out over the city of Portland in the valley and see the majestic snow-covered Mt. Hood), the Garden is a haven of tranquility and stunning beauty. Designed by Professor Takuma Tono in 1973, it encompasses five-and-one-half acres with five separate garden styles and includes an authentic Japanese Tea House, meandering streams, intimate walkways and serene moss-covered settings.

The quiet solitude of the lovely Japanese Garden was contrasted to the strikingly colorful array of magnificent roses bursting in bloom in the Portland Rose Garden. The gardens curator escorted each PGMS group through the fragrant setting, outlining and explaining history, varieties, and more. Founded in 1917, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Currently, the garden features 9,525 rose bushes representing 610 varieties.

The final site visit for the first day of the regional conference was to Hoyt Arboretum.
Founded in 1928 to conserve endangered species and educate the community, Hoyt Arboretum encompasses 187 ridge-top acres, accessible by trails covering 12 miles. A place of beauty and serenity in all seasons, the Arboretum is easily accessible from anywhere in the metropolitan area, by car, bus or the MAX light rail. Hoyt Arboretum is supported by a partnership between Portland Parks and Recreation and Hoyt Arboretum Friends, a membership-based nonprofit organization working to enhance the Arboretum’s mission since 1986. Join Curator Martin Nicholson for a tour through the Collections, showcasing why Hoyt Arboretum is unique among the nations’ Arboreta.

From the day’s tours, the PGMS group headed back to enjoy a great hospitality and networking event at the headquarters hotel.

The following morning, bright-and-early, everyone climbed back on the bus for a final site visit to the Nike campus in Beverton, Ore. Nike World Headquarters is a 190 acre campus maintained by TruGreen. Attendees were able to tour the soccer fields, the man-made lake on campus, the new synthetic playing fields that were just installed using recycled sneakers for the crumb rubber, and the Tiger Woods Golf Center, just to name a few highlights.

Upon returning from Nike, conference participants were dropped at the Portland Convention Center where they had a great opportunity to take part in the ISA trade show.

Photos from the event can be found at PGMS’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProfessionalGroundsManagementSociety.

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