2024 GCA Annual Meeting Recap

Amy M. and Mary T. attended this year’s GCA Annual Meeting held in downtown Hartford Connecticut. There were approximately 550 attendees.

Amy and I attended the Zone Dinner Friday night, and on Saturday attended morning meetings followed by visiting two local attractions. The Annual Dinner and Awards was Saturday night followed by a meeting Sunday morning.

There were several “take-aways” from attending.

  1. The differences in approach from when I joined 16 years ago to today are noticeable, and perhaps summed up best by the focus being more on “we” than “me.”
  2. The amount of talent across the country is simply astounding as witnessed by the 10 honorees who received Medals.
  3. For all Committee Chairs, there is an amazing amount of information on the GCA website not only for ideas but also videos of “how-to’s.”
  4. There is a new company out of Texas that is producing an “Oasis” replacement made from corn. The product is called Phoam. Availability will be announced once we get that information.
  5. The afternoon tours were great. Our first stop was the Wickam Park  which opened in 1961 representing 250 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, ornamental gardens, picnic areas, sports facilities and other attractions. The second stop was the UConn Botanical Conservancy. This institution has the most diverse living plant collection at a public institution in the U.S. They have more than 2,700 species showcasing worldwide plant diversity and supporting cutting edge research and teaching.
  6. It stood out to both Amy and I that we as a club are perhaps not utilizing some of the existing grants available from GCA. GCA’s Scholarship programs are having a profound impact on many lives. Here are a few examples – under the umbrella of the Common Ground Collaborative Grants, these were created to help clubs build long-term relationships with diverse community groups to develop, improve and maintain public land and programs. Each year GCA awards up to five grants at $10,000.00 each. The Hull Award recognizes local educators who impart to children under 16 years of age a love and concern for the natural environment. Both GCA members and non-members may be proposed for this award. The winners are awarded $1,000.00.
  7. Brian Vogt was honored as an Honorary member of the GCA. He was unable to attend but sent in a video accepting the award.
  8. Spearheadspade.com sold shovels and spades at the Meeting. They are a huge upgrade to any shovel or spade I have ever owned.
  9. Clubs around the country are addressing similar membership issues by creating more flexibility and inclusivity. Having different categories for young professionals/young families is something we could consider.

And there’s more, all of which I found on the GCA website. For me personally, I simply have not spent a lot of time on the GCA website, but the resources that range from new member packets to ideas and grants is amazing and worth looking at.

Amy and I thank our club for sending us to this fascinating meeting. Its hard to understand what’s going on from a bigger picture standpoint unless you attend this particular meeting, so if you are asked to go, we hope you say yes!

-Story and photos by Mary T.