ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Chicago Flower and Garden Show 2010 by ldedmc06
March 10, 2010, 5:04 pm
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Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the 2010 Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier. I am embarrassed to say that this is the first time I was ever at the show! The ILCA Women’s Networking Group sponsored a 1 1/2 hour private tour before the show opened to the general public. What an awesome way to see the show. We were able to go up the stairs and view the gardens from above and were given info on details that we may not have been privey to without the tour. Just walking in to the Show, you could smell Spring. Not to mention being in awe of the colors in the flowers, the accessories, the themed gardens, OMG (Oh My Gosh-in text language)…I was blown away. It just really made me feel that the Spring season is just around the corner. That REAL soon we will be in the throws of our BUSY time. That our own yards, our clients yards, our clients clients yards, will be as wonderfully colorful as what I just witnessed at the show. That is enough to keep me going, especially as I look out the window today at a dreary, foggy, ugly Wednesday. HURRY UP SPRING…


Social Media Marketing – Tip of the Iceberg? by Terre Houte
February 24, 2010, 1:56 pm
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by Terrè Houte

 When I agreed to speak about our company’s journey to become “social media savvy marketers” at this year’s Mid-Am Mid-Winter Conference, I had no idea that I knew just the tip of a huge and growing iceberg! The title of the talk was “Wow ‘em with Your Web Presence: The Grassroots of Effectively Marketing Your Business Online”.

 While researching the topic, I discovered a vast, quickly growing amount of information. I was teamed up with a professional, Keidra Chaney,, who helped me understand the basics and gave me the true scope of what was ahead.  

 We have contracted with a talented pair of experts to guide us through the blogoshere. Barb Rozgonyi of CoryWest Media LLC, (contact:, who gave us an excellent start with our branding strategy five years ago. She is the founder of Chicago Social Media Club and featured on the cover of the October 2009 SOHO Magazine as “Chicago Social Media Maven”. Check out her blog at .  Also, Dave Prickett of Karnes Prickett Design, who has given us our signature look for the past five years.

 Barb will help us strategize and implement our blog/newsletter, while Dave will design it to maintain consistency with our brand. SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the goals of this project.

Watch for my posts and join with me as we embark on a new direction in marketing! This is not for the faint of heart! Hold onto your hat! It’s going to be a wild ride!

Who’s Your Hero? by corumkeller
February 19, 2010, 3:36 am
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by Christa Orum-Keller

Wednesday morning this week, ILCA board members were invited as guests, to sample the leadership experience which participants of the ILCA Leadership Council share through their involvement in that program.  Learn more about the Leadership Council here:

The program we sampled, was one about leading in lean times.  Just as valuable as the content the speaker presented, was the conversation, questions and discussion in the small groups and during the breaks.  It is clear; we need each other, as vendors, customers, friends as colleagues to get through these times.

Some of the important points I took away from the morning included:

  1. Knowing your core values is the foundation for all you do.  If the core values aren’t clear, everything else will be muddy too.  Clarity about one’s core values = clarity in decisions and actions.
  2. Everyone in the room is facing the same business challenges in some fashion or other.  We are not alone.  We are all looking to do more with less, seeking ways to fight our way back to become profitable, having to make some of the toughest decisions in our lives – and amidst it all we all need help keeping ourselves charged up, hopeful and positive.
  3. As business leaders we have to carefully balance the immediate demands of today, that is our very survival, with the bigger picture strategies for the future so we can thrive and grow again.  Today this balance is more important than ever.
  4. Every little thing counts; every second counts – and every decision you make about what to do with and in that moment counts.  Make the most of it.

Early in the presentation there was a reference to personal heros.  When I considered who my heros were I thought immediately about people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but I didn’t feel my answer was complete – it just didn’t feel like I had fully answered that question.  After the session, I talked with a fellow ILCA member about this conundrum and as we stood at the top of the room, she said that her heros are everyday heros – they are the people she works with and recreates with.  My eyes scanned the room and I had my answer.

Right there, in that room, these hard working, kind, thoughtful, caring, diligent ILCA people are my heros.  The inspiration and hope I walked away with had come from them more than it would from anyone else.  We need each other – and we need the heroic inspiration we can provide for each other in challenging times.  Yes indeed, we need each other.

Californian Dreaming by Melisa Bell by melisabell
February 15, 2010, 5:10 pm
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Every year around this time I have a recurring dream of digging in the dirt, planting “stuff”, and finalizing my “move everything in garden” plans. I call this my harbinger of spring dream and I always feel so excited when I wake from it. It’s Mother Nature waking me up; letting me know that spring is right around the corner – yipee! I can almost smell the earth defrosting and see the daffodils poking their heads through the soil, stretching for sunlight. I have a similar dream in October, but not nearly as pleasant. In my October dream I wake up to discover four inches of snow on the ground, even though the grass is still green and the leaves haven’t fallen. Of course we are not even close to being ready for snow removal; none of the equipment has been installed on the trucks, we’re still working on fall clean up’s and playing beat the clock in construction. I am caught completely off guard and so we all panic, in my dream that is. Usually after my October dream I march into work and put together the truck schedule, finalize my de-icing material purchase, reach out to snow plow operators, etc… This dream is a harbinger also, but it fills me with anxiety instead of joy.
It’s kind of funny; I was born and raised in California: the land of no seasons, so I it makes me feel kind of special to have this connection with nature’s rhythm, kind of like she is whispering in my ear exclusively. Maybe she thinks I need a little extra help, being a Californian and all she might assume I am a little dense about this “changing of the seasons” stuff. My California roots currently have me craving sunshine. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of complaining about how sick I am of winter; that would be uninteresting and untrue. For a lot of us, winter is a time to slow down a little and take a breath after a hectic season. It’s time to read a book by the fire or walk in the woods on a warm day; the woods are so quiet in winter. I love the seasons. Not only for the change in scenery but also for the change in life’s rhythm. There is no sameness in the seasons. There are unique chores for each season and for me, unique feelings accompany each season. Fall has a very special place in my heart in fact it is my favorite season. Both my husband and I have birthdays and our anniversary in fall. Fall feels like family and comfort and smells like burning leaves, which I love. Crisp sunny days and apples, warm sweaters and boots, the prairie; these are my favorite things.
According to my internal calendar, it won’t be long before we shift gears again and bid old man winter his proper adieu. Snow shovels back to the garage where they belong, ashes out of the fireplace, and winter coats to the dry cleaner. It’s time to wake up, stretch our limbs and wait for March to confound us with her unpredictable way of showing winter the door and welcoming in spring.

The Gender of Expertise by Scott Grams by sgramsilca
February 10, 2010, 10:44 pm
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2009-2010 was the first year ILCA put together the educational program for the MidAmerica Horticultural Show held on January 19-22, 2010 at McCormick Place in Chicago. ILCA, in conjunction with IGIA organized 32 educational sessions and three workshops spread across three days.

The usual refrain about the green industry is that it’s a “male dominated industry.” I am sure that, counting crews, that is true. What startled me about the educational programs that ILCA developed was the number of women picked as speakers because of their knowledge, expertise, and educational background.

The ILCA Education Committee never went out and tried to pick an equal number of men and women to serve as speakers. The Committee didn’t care. They wanted to find the most credible speakers on the relevant topics the Committee selected. I never once heard “we should get a female speaker” over the 9 months of planning that went into the 2010 MidAm educational program.

41% of ILCA’s speakers at MidAm were female for the ILCA-sponsored educational sessions. The following women donated their time to speak at the 2010 MidAm tradeshow:

Karla P.Lynch, The Morton Arboretum
Lori Vierow, Planning Resources
Karen Morby, Robert Ebl, Inc.
Pat Sund, Countryside Industries
Kathy Richardson, Grant & Power Landscaping
Keidra Chaney, The Web Farm
Terre Houte, Hursthouse, Inc.
Terry Guen, ASLA, Terry Guen Design Associates, Inc.
Melissa Osuch, HR Consultants
Grace Koehler, Midwest Groundcovers

If the Education Committee started out with the goal of making sure 40% of the speakers were female, it would be noble. Yet, those forced quotas seem disingenuous. Are we really going after the best if we start from a shrunken, identifiable, gender-based pool? I was more pleased by Education Committee’s mandate to find the best speakers available.

There are still major salary incongruities for women and men. women still own far fewer companies and businesses than men. There are only 6 WBE-certified landscape contractors in Chicago and 3 in Cook County. There are still long strides for women business owners and employees to overcome. What pleased me about the MidAm educational programs was the gender blindness that expertise and knowledge can cause. If I need the best brain surgeon, I don’t care if it’s a man, woman, or labrador retriever. I want the best. The same rings true when you want the best horticulturalist, HR professional, marketing director, or sustainable designer.

Salaries and job titles carry so much social baggage. For many, it’s impossible to put a wrench between job and gender. The green industry may be male-dominated but MidAm showed it relies on the expertise of women to move it forward. I was glad that came to light in our Education Committee’s blind search for talented presenters. 41% is still not a majority…but it’s a far cry from male domination.

January 29, 2010, 10:13 pm
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By Denise Rivers

I am a super checker. After a day of work, the checking begins. Dinner, homework, baseball, piano lessons, PTA meetings, etc. My days are spent making sure that everyone around me is cared for. Truth be told, I love every moment of it and I wouldn’t change a thing. It is my job to ensure that my professional and family obligations are squared away, but I totally forgot to include social networking to my checklist. Does social networking fit into my mix? The answer is YES and the Women’s Networking Group has created a platform for working woman like myself. There are many women that are in the same position that I am in and Howl at the Moon was the perfect remedy. For a few hours that night, I did not think about what I needed to do next. I spent that time dancing, laughing, drinking (milk) and simply having a blast! I shared stories about putting milk in the pantry and cereal in the frig. We get each other! We need these events.

Hat’s off the Women’s Networking Group for daring to offer us these educational and social networking opportunities and yes, we should all add social networking to our…

To-Do- List

 Mozel tov!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED by kathywicks2215
January 27, 2010, 1:51 am
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By: Kathy Wicks

The following entry has been “declassified” to enable others a chance to view an industry agent’s assignment into the world known only to a select group:

Listen to Mission Impossible Theme Song


Attend MID-AM on January 20, 2010 @ McCormick Place West


Visit  current vendors and thank them profusely for their tireless work

Look at new products and ideas

Attend  educational events

Support the ILCA, colleagues and the  green industry

Network with new people and connect with established relationships

Get a pulse on the state of our industry

Howl at the Moon


DEBRIEF: See statement below

This mission can be summed up with the following words:

Energizing, vital, refreshing, thoughtful, meaningful, fun, hilarious, insightful, irreplaceable, necessary, WOW, humbling, hopeful, educational, musical, professional, supportive, perspective, worthy, relational, memorable and ENCOURAGING!