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Minutes, Monday, March 15, 2004

State Fair Office, Richmond, Virginia

Welcome: Lin Diacont

Present were: Jeff Miller, Gwynn Hubbard, Lorene Blackwood, Mary Williams, Rick Baker, Cary Gouldin, Bill Bonwell, Lorrie Lincoln, T. Michael Likins, Nanette Parsons, Joel Koci, Len Morrow, Donna Pugh Johnson, Shelly Arthur, Jeff Minnich, Joyce Latimer

Presidents Comments
Lin will update the VGIC letter for solicitation purposes for membership and sponsorships.
Executive Directors Report
Jeff will attend the Marketing Workshop Greensboro, NC representing the VGIC. VGIC logo registration is still in progress. More information was needed for “Champions of the Environment”.

Treasurers Report
Financial Report-see attachment

Committee Reports

Budget-Cary Gouldin
Each committee is requested to meet before May 17th to develop budget requests. Time is of the essence to ensure that we will use the Grant money in a timely fashion. All reports/requests are to be sent to Jeff and Lin. Rick noted that we have had volunteers do the survey’s so some of the money allocated to the survey can be allocated in other directions.

Communications, Public Relations, Joyce Latimer
VGIC Marketing Plan—Need to update the website. Grant money can be used for this.
A Green Industry Newsletter needs to be designed and set up for press releases. Also, articles for newspaper columns need to be developed. The committee was asked to develop guidelines for listing members in brochures, websites, etc. Should logos, websites, names etc be listed?
The Committee will hold a conference call next week.

Certification – Mary Williams presented revised certification posters representing greenhouse, arborist, landscape designers and nurserymen and asked for suggestions for this year’s version. It was suggested that a tag line be added “Brought to you by members of the Virginia Green Industry Council” or similar rather than using logos of the different groups. It was also suggested that ethnic diversity be considered in the “models”.

Membership - Linda Anson has requested to be relieved of these duties and Mary Williams will take her place as membership chair. Jeff will invoice new members and send Mary potential leads.

Program and Education - Greg Eaton, Bill Bonwell reported for Greg on the Education Committee (see attachment) on Survey

Maymont Show - Council sponsored speaker Bob Lyons and Lin Diacont introduced him along with giving VGIC a BIG plug. Lin, along with Karen Kelly, Gwynn Hubbard, and Lorene Blackwood conducted VGIC survey’s and handed out VGIC magnets to all that completed the surveys.

Stranges Grand Opening - Lorrie Lincoln is lining up volunteers to take surveys with the help of Cary. VIIC will also hand out “Plant it right Brochure and VGIC Magnets.

Lorrie has also arranged with Lewis Ginter for our surveys to be in packets at the “Diggin In” Event- along with “Plant it Right” Brochure/Magnets. (Great job Lorrie.)

Legislative Issues Lorene Blackwood introduced Donna Johnson, Agribusiness President gave an overview of pending legislative issues that might directly affect the Green Industry: Farm vehicle reflectors, price gouging. Donna and Lorene thanked everyone for the fabulous flowers for the Agribusiness Banquet. They made a great impact.

VAC Banquet Decorations: Cary Gouldin passed out a list of contributors of plants that were donated by growers to the Virginia Agribusiness Council’s annual banquet in January. The delivered and setup value of the plants was $5229.30.

Old Business Updates:

FSMIP - Rick reported that we are at a stage where we need to be submitting bills for payment and developing activities that promote VGIC. We need to clearly define the activities through our committees. Develop a newsletter or column, and create promotional pieces. We are fortunate to have Michelle Fletcher to help us. We will only have access to the Grant money for one more year. He also indicated that VDACS has resources available to assist in getting out news releases. Joyce Latimer mentioned that the VA Cooperative Extension has resources for sending out news releases.
Water Policy - Lorene said she would talk with Sam Hamilton at Agribusiness to let him know that we would like to have representation on the Water Advisory Board.

State Fair Update - State fair will be held 2004 and 2005 at the Richmond Raceway Complex. The Fair has purchased Meadow Farms and has hired Smith Bullock to help develop the new location. They are currently doing a feasibility study to determine future needs for this location.

Agribusiness Council Banquet - Thank you notes were sent to all members who donated flowers or labor. Council will provide flowers for the 2005 Banquet, January 13. Cary will again spearhead this committee.

Surf and Turf-Science Museum of Virginia -We have no feed back from this program.
Potomac Watershed Partnership- Rick attended and it was a small gathering, not an appropriate one for conducting our surveys.

River Road Landscape Project No update

Sponsorships

Websites - Jeff Miller reported that for the last year, www.VirginiaGreen.org had 16,513 session contacts and that there has been a continuous increase each month. (Session contacts are a more realistic count of actual visitors that “hits” because a “hit” counts every separate item on a webpage.
On www.VirginiaGardening.com, there have been 47,717 session contacts which peaked in July and has again been on the increase since December.
Ideas – Jeff requested ideas and info for the websites. After some discussion, it was recommended that the VGIC websites link to information resources on member association sites rather than trying to re-create the same info.
Links: Company Listings - are they members? Do they need to be or should they be?

Green Industry Day 2005 - At this point, Meadow Farm (new State Fair site) will not be available for the Green Industry Day (GID) in 2005.

New Business

Guidance Counselor Conference on Growth and Development of Students
Lin will represent the VGIC and provide an overview of career opportunities in the Green Industry and scholarships that are available through the VGIC member associations. Lorene noted that last year the State Fair of Virginia awarded over $60,000 in scholarships to students that competed at the fair in 2003. Donations to the conference were made by VNLA, VTC, Snow’s representing the VGIC and their company.

VDACS - There is co-op advertising money from VDACS available for Virginia growers who are growing and selling to the public.

Future 2004 meeting dates will be proposed and sent prior to the next meeting which will be on Monday, June 14 at the State Fair Office.

Respectively submitted, Lorene Blackwood, Secretary.

Programs and Education Committee Report

The committee met via conference call, March 12, 2004.
Present were Greg Eaton, Karen Kelly, Gwynn Hubbard, Lin Diacont, Bill Bonwell, Jeff Miller.

Green Industry Consumer Surveys
Totals respondents include 72 from the Farm and Family Showcase, Sept 2003;
520 from The State Fair of Virginia, Sept 2003, 78 from Maymont Garden Show, Feb 2004. Two other events with surveys not included in this report: Open House, Strange’s Greenhouse; Lewis Ginter event. Data summary from first two events (attached) indicates 19 - 26% name recognition of VGIC among consumers surveyed. This indicates modest impact of the modest marketing so far. Percentages of respondents who reported hiring horticultural professionals in the past year were consistently higher among those who reported having heard of VGIC. Consumer preferences of sources of horticultural information indicate VGIC educational programs should target live events at Garden Centers in cooperation with VCE including Master Gardeners. At least one VCE district (Northern District) is currently compiling educational needs of garden center employees and intends programs directed to those. They have already expressed a commitment to partner with VGIC in those programs. Educational needs toward refining marketing strategies is a frequently expressed need among garden center survey respondents (a different survey than VGICs). The VGIC P&E Committee should begin refining the educational offerings they would hope to provide in this partnership. The VCE tact is to target employees of garden centers. If the VGIC prefers to target consumers then we should carefully consider the structure of educational programs in this partnership. The VGIC is poised to offer valuable marketing programming in the context of VGIC promotional efforts.

Given the desire to have several survey efforts in Northern and Tidewater VA, the committee decided to continue the initial survey, at least through Spring 2004. There are two upcoming events in Northern VA that would be valuable opportunities for survey. Both are scheduled for April 24-25. The Prince William County VCE Spring Fling on Saturday April 24, and the Loudon County Garden Fair on April 24-25. It was suggested that Master Gardeners at the first event are already pretty booked with educational offerings and may not be able to adequately handle survey distribution and collection. VGIC should strongly consider providing a member volunteer to handle these events . Organizers of these events have been contacted about their willingness to allow a table or booth for us (Paige Thacker, PWC Spring Fling, thacker@vt.edu, (703) 792-4671; Debbie Dillion, LC Garden Fair, ddillion@vt.edu, (703) 256-7952); perhaps handling the Prince William event on Saturday, and the Loudon event on Sunday (?). Beach area events in Spring 2004 have not yet been identified. VGIC Board help in identifying Beach area opportunities would be appreciated.

Additional rigorous survey analysis, especially including Zip Code information will require funding for technical help. Greg Eaton will investigate the possibility of contracting with a student or technician in Horticulture at Virginia Tech for these analyses.
It was agreed that a News Release about the results of the survey so far, is called for now. This should be composed for released to as many trade newsletters as would be interested, and would hopefully contribute to Membership initiatives. Greg Eaton will formulate a first draft of the news release. Given the proximity to planned events the news release should perhaps include results of next several events(?).

The committee discussed the possibility of a second survey of different format, addressing consumer attitudes about some educational and environmental issues that relate to horticulture (e.g. non-point source pollution, water conservation, pesticide, nutrient, and soil management, native and invasive plants). To implement this in the Spring would likely distract from the current survey effort. It was noted that survey instruments in general, while providing the VGIC with valuable data, may also be an intensive and labor-efficient marketing tool, and we would promote the use of this strategy at many future events.

Promotional PowerPoint Presentation
This has not been constructed yet (sorry about that), but we hope to have something nice for the next (ca. June) meeting. It is anticipated that we provide a power point file (slide show), with accompanying speaker notes, and audience friendly handout. It was suggested that two versions of this presentation be produced, one directed at industry groups should be the priority to contribute to Membership efforts. A draft of these presentation materials should be available ASAP, perhaps revised in time for April 24 Northern Virginia events(?). A second version directed to consumers is also important. It was agreed that live presentations at Green Industry events would be the most effective use of this product. The possibility that this effort could eventually provide a web-enabled presentation with audio, and also contribute to a promotional video was discussed as a future effort. Cost estimates for these products will be important to the Board and Finance Committee but have not been addressed yet by the P&E Committee.

Events
The P&E Committee will increase efforts to formulate a stand-alone Green Expo for Spring 2005. Lin Diacont has already received strong interest of supporting sponsorship from John Deere Landscapes and Smith Turf and Irrigation. The committee set an April 30, 2004 deadline for committee member input on the date, venue, and structure for the Green Expo. VGIC Board input on this ‘flagship’ event is strongly encouraged.

Budget
The P&E Committee will increase efforts to formulate a justified budget for current and future activities. The budget should include funding for activities that should fall under the current FSMIP grant, as well as estimates of funds needed for annual activities supported by general VGIC operating funds. Recommendations of the VGIC Board on target dollars available, and a deadline for providing a draft budget would be appreciated.

 

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