IA Times, June 2019

IA leaders celebrate success & reaffirm mission

The IA Board of Directors and chairs and vice chairs of the IA’s volunteer groups gathered in San Antonio on May 22 to revisit the association’s mission and set a course for the next three years. Thirty-five participants reviewed the association’s past successes and identified future goals.

“Even as involved in the IA as I am, I didn’t really comprehend all of these achievements,” said Eric Santos, CAIS, CGIA, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CLWM, Irrigation Foundation chair and vice president of irrigation services for BrightView Landscape Services. “But looking at it all together, we have a lot of wins to celebrate.”

“One of the outcomes of both the membership survey and the strategic planning session is that we need to do a better job of letting folks know about our achievements,” said IA CEO Deborah Hamlin, CAE, FASAE. “When someone says we should have a job board or online learning, that tells us that people don’t know about these existing programs and we are not promoting them enough.”

During the meeting, the group reaffirmed the current mission “to promote efficient irrigation.” “This statement continues to validate and encompass all that we do as an association,” said IA Immediate Past President Warren Gorowitz, CLIA, vice president of sustainability for Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply.

The group then spent the balance of the day identifying strategies to fulfill the association’s advocacy and professional development goals. There was much conversation about growing workforce development efforts, based on the recent member survey results and supporting the goal that “Members will have access to an ample workforce of skilled and unskilled professionals to meet the needs of the industry.”

There were also many ideas shared about how to execute this ambitious goal: “The public will value the benefits of irrigated agriculture and irrigated landscapes.” Some proposed programs will be unveiled throughout the year, while others may be implemented as early as July for Smart Irrigation Month.

Lastly, the group addressed the goal stating: “The IA has the structure and resources needed to fulfill its strategic plan.” Membership, the Irrigation Show and Education Week, and the IA’s two magazines were discussed as the primary funders of the efforts previously discussed. Ensuring these business tools remain relevant was high on the list. To do this, members and nonmembers alike may be asked to participate in some additional research for a deeper dive into what keeps them up at night and how the IA can provide the right tools in the toolbox for addressing those issues. 

Those attending the session agreed that it offered a great opportunity to pause and look back on what the association has done in the past and use that information to develop plans for a successful future. “As the incoming president of the IA, I appreciate the value in these planning sessions,” said Jon Topham, CAIS, CID, COO of Irrigation Design and Construction. “It is a great opportunity to hear what is important to a broad cross section of our membership and set the direction for the association for the next three years.”

These are just some of the highlights of the strategic planning session and subsequent board meeting. The IA Board of Directors will further discuss the ideas presented and publish a new plan by the end of the year. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to review the association’s accomplishments over the last three years and share in the celebration. An article sharing the results of the member survey will be included in the July issue of IA Times.