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Irrigation Show paints picture of a water-wise future

November 19, 2015 -  By

The message was all about using education to turn the tides of water waste at the 2015 Irrigation Show, held Nov. 11-12 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. Which is why the Irrigation Association (IA) invited Robert Wyland to underscore just that in his keynote address.

The sea life muralist seemed right at home under the same roof with irrigation professionals and manufacturers for the general session Nov. 12—the same roof and walls to which he applied thousands of gallons of paint to complete one of his acclaimed “Wyland Walls.”

“How could you not be aligned with people that are concerned with protecting our water?” said Wyland, who uses his art to advocate for environmental conservation and awareness. “The people in this room are the heroes who are trying to conserve, protect and respect our water.”

For Wyland, that alignment is through educating our youth.

“All of us have a responsibility to share what we know about water and conservation with the next generation,” he said. “If you want to protect the environment today, talk to ‘us.’ If you want to protect the environment tomorrow, talk to kids. If we’re united in this, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together.”

The artist’s nonprofit, the Wyland Foundation, already has made partnerships such as with The Toro Co. and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program on its National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Held every Earth Month (Aril 1-30), the competition challenges residents to take online pledges to conserve water, energy and other natural resources as marker toward making their city the most water wise.

“In this generation, if we’re going to create an environmental renaissance, it’s going to take all of us working together,” Wyland said.

Talk-show entertainment, 2015 awards

An estimated 300 exhibitors and 4,000-people attended the 2015 Irrigation Show. The Education Conference, comprising education classes, certification exams and seminars, surrounded the show from Nov. 9-13.

Along with Wyland’s keynote, the general session was held in a talk-show format, with IA President Aric Olson acting as the host.

Following his musical entrance, Olson—also president of Jain Irrigation—said, “The IA is healthier and stronger than ever.”

He recounted some of the association’s accomplishments in 2015 such as the IA office move to Fairfax, Va.; offering landscape webinar tracks for business and technical irrigation education; and the launch of a new tailgate training program.

IA President-elect Jay Robbins, COO of Irrigation-Mart, also partook in the comedy shtick, drafting up a David Letterman-inspired ‘Top 10’ list: “The top 10 reasons why membership in the IA is great:

10. We have a fabulous staff.

9. Certifications exams were so fun I had to take it three times.

8. Rollover CEUs are not as confusing as rollover minutes.

7. The EPA takes our phone calls.

6. There are 37 uses for the ‘Irrigation, Sixth Edition.’

5. Volunteers leaders were crazy enough to try this late-show skit.

4. We make words like ‘evapotranspiration’ fun.

3. We get to go to a great show location every year.

2. Brent Mecham (IA industry development director) is always spot on for my technical questions.

1. We still have irrigation in California.”

On a more serious note, Robbins said, under his leadership in 2016, the association will emphasize advocacy and professional development, including promoting its certification programs and continuing to develop its existing training programs.

In the “award show” portion of the session, Robbins and Irrigation Foundation Chair Cathie Lavis also recognized 2015 award winners.

2015 IA award winners included:

·      Person of the Year: Guy Fipps, Ph.D., Texas A&M University;

·      Crawford Reid Memorial Award: Mark Huntley, president of FH Consulting;

·      Partner of the Year: Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources at University of Nebraska; and

·      Industry Achievement Award: Brian Vinchesi, president of Irrigation Consulting.

Additionally, Lou Anella, Ph.D., of Oklahoma State University, received the Irrigation Foundation’s 2015 Excellence in Education Award.

New product contest winners included:

·      Landscape Irrigation: Aqualone by Aqualone;

·      Lighting: Luxor ZDC by FX Luminaire; and

·      Specialty: Wildeye Soil Moisture by Outpost Central.

The 2016 Irrigation Show is slated for Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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