Message from the WCTA President – Sep/Oct 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us this year, and it seems it will continue to do so well into 2021. Our WCTA board, like many other industry associations, has been faced with many difficult decisions. We have talked long and hard about the effects of the pandemic and what we need to do to best serve our members during these difficult times. We have polled our membership to get a sense of what is needed and we have explored numerous options for continued education and networking opportunities. As a board we have remained hopeful that holding our 2021 conference live and in-person would be still a possibility.

However, with mass gathering limits expected to remain in place for some time and in consideration of feedback received from our recent member survey, the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to cancel our 2021 Conference and Trade Show in Penticton.

Cancelling our show was an extremely difficult decision and one that is truly disappointing. For many turf managers, the annual conference and trade show is a much anticipated opportunity to continue their education while attending valuable networking opportunities and checking out the latest and greatest technology at the trade show. It’s a chance to get out of the daily grind and catch up with colleagues, something that during this pandemic, we need now more than ever. The isolation has certainly taken a toll on me personally, as I’m sure it has on many of you. Feeling more out of touch with my friends and colleagues than ever, a conference and big networking opportunity would have been a great chance to catch up and reconnect with everyone. This year the conference will be especially missed.

The results and the comments from our membership survey made it clear that demand for a live and in person show would be quite low even if mass gatherings were allowed to proceed in the near future. These results helped make the decision to cancel somewhat easier. If given the option, many of our members would choose to stay home this year, and rightfully so. If the attendance to make the conference financially viable would not be there, the decision to cancel was imminent one way or the other.

But the survey did show something that many of us suspected: there was still a strong demand for education to be delivered through an online platform. As an association we have a duty to provide our membership with continuing education and opportunities to earn CEC points. The Board and WCTA staff have been exploring a number of platforms to host online education for our members. There are many interesting tools out there, and trying to determine what is going to work best for our association is a difficult task. 

To date, we have a number of online webinars planned for this coming fall/ winter, as well as a more interactive platform to potentially host an online version of our 2021 Conference and Trade Show. We can't give away too much at this point, but we’re planning a number of exciting opportunities for our membership to gain valuable education, CEC points and networking opportunities this winter. 

We fully expect we’ll be holding our in-person conference and trade show in 2022, but in the meantime, we encourage you to check out our webinar series being launched this fall, and stay tuned for more announcements on a potentially new and exciting 2021 online conference and trade show.

Travis Olson
WCTA President