From the President’s Desk Fall 2013

By Larry Nau in Presidential Proclamations

In case you weren’t part of the 191 members who made it to Mt. Kisco, NY, in August for the national meeting (or read the report about it on the website) Frank Goodhart and Walter Cullerton lead us on a fabulous three-day journey through the Hudson River Valley. It was a delightful excursion through private estates, public gardens and was complimented with informative speakers back at the hotel. For some, an additional four days was needed to explore even more gardens, estates and superb cuisine. Melanie Wyler did a great job in organizing our post tour. In addition to Frank, Walter and Melanie, dozens of additional ACS members were involved in the planning and execution of our events in New York – thanks to each of you who stepped forward and made these events such a success.

For most attendees the highlight of our national meetings is our plant auctions. I know our organizing committee thanked the donors profusely already but let me, in behalf of all of us at the Society, publicly thank each donor who contributed cultivars to the auction —whether it was one plant or twenty. Each year hundreds of conifers (plus other companion plants) are donated to our National and Regional auctions. Without these donations — and the spirited bidding of our members — the ACS would not have the resources to carry out its mission. This year we had one of our best auctions ever with over $17,000 generated.

For the past six months Ethan Johnson has lead a search committee vetting applicants for our national office manager position. The Board of Directors was presented with three extremely qualified candidates in August. After hours of executive session meetings, follow-up emails, and a two-hour phone conference, the BOD has selected Steven Courtney as the next ACS National Office Manager. The ACS was extremely fortunate to have the option of three worthy candidates for this position; our thanks go out to each of them for applying.

Steven Courtney is certainly well known in the Central Region where he has served as a Director to the BOD for the past four years as well as the Central Region’s Treasurer. Steve’s most recent position was general manager of Hidden Lakes Gardens in Tipton, Michigan, a position he held for the past seven years. Many of you will remember last year’s National Meeting and the day we spent at the Harper Collection which was planned and coordinated by Steve.

It will take several months to complete the transition of the National Office from North Carolina to its new home in Minnesota. This move should be completed by November and Steve will likely be responding to your questions and queries by then if not sooner.

Working with Steve, I’ve signed the contract to implement the Neon CRM office management software as per the BOD’s instructions. This program will allow us to use the internet to better manage our membership list, produce mailing lists, and process credit card payments to name a few tasks. The ability for us to use the new website to take new memberships and renewals should be activated shortly. In addition, donations may be made to the various ACS endowments and you can sign up the annual Collectors Conifer of the Year program. Futher, members who have registered with the website will now be able contact other registered members in a secure environment.

I realize not all of our membership will take advantage of these improvements so we will still use the tried and true US Postal Service and create a paper membership list for those who are more comfortable with this option. I do want to make a direct appeal, however, to our membership to send us your e-mail address if you have one. At this point we have just over 1,000 member addresses for our roughly 1,650 members. If we could convince more members to use this option we could save the Society considerable money using e-mail as opposed to having to generate hard copy and spend money for manufacturing and delivering our renewal reminders, newsletters, ballots, etc. We know that you are somebody who loves evergreens; please think green, save some trees and be in more immediate contact with all that ACS does for you by switching over to e-mail communication with the ACS.

Speaking digitally, I hope all of you have taken the opportunity to explore and participate in our new website. In the first month after it’s launch in Mt. Kisco over 275 of you registered. And while you don’t have to register to enjoy most of what is on the new site, only registered members can interact with the site by posting comments to stories, initiating and participating in Discussions, accessing the archive of CQs and newsletters we have digital copies of and posting images of your prized cultivars to the Conifer Database.

Our Web Editor, Sean Callahan, already has put up almost two dozen stories about our events; I counted over 135 photos in these reports, many featuring ACS members enjoying the educational as well collegial aspects of membership in the Society. In addition, over 200 new photos have been added to the ACS Conifer Database by ACS members. All of this activity in the first 40 days; we are off to a great start.

By definition we are a Society and with that term we are defined as being social. Not everyone can attend and participate in a national or regional meeting. However, each of you grows conifers and many of you have instructive conifer gardening experiences, outstanding conifer specimens and superb conifer gardens. I asked each of you to share these with not only your fellow members but the greater community on the web as well.

Remember, most of what is on the site is accessible to the public internet. If you participate in the site and help it grow, you are doing your part in educating the public about conifers — and the ACS. Because of that initiative on your part, some new people are going to join our ranks and make us an even better place to learn about conifers.

Join us in educating the cyber gardening public via the World Wide Web about the splendor of conifers. I am confident additional conifers will be planted and more people will want to join the American Conifer Society because of your participation in the website.