It’s been a busy year around the PLANET office! From planning our annual events that bring PLANET members together, to keeping you informed of the most up-to-date industry information, PLANET staff has been on its toes.
You’re well aware of the products, programs, and services PLANET brings to you. But, you might not know about some of the behind-the-scenes work going on. Read on to find out…!
The Government Affairs Department has had an important role in helping to secure major H-2B wins in federal court and on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, Judge M. Casey Rodgers, Northern District of Florida court, issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing the H-2B program rule nationwide.
The PLANET Board of Directors approved $25,000 in total to funds help bring two suits filed against the DOL regarding the H-2B wage rule and program rule, in which PLANET is a plaintiff. Congress voted to extend the law that prevents the DOL from implementing its H-2B wage rule through March 27, 2013.
Another government affairs victory came by way of the EPA WaterSense program. After years of work, in which PLANET played an integral part, our industry celebrated a major victory when the EPA announced that the 40 percent turfgrass restriction in its WaterSense program’s landscape specifications would be removed as of Dec. 31, 2012.
We’ve been busy on the certification front as well. From social media to print, Landscape Industry Certified made industry headlines like never before, including in a series of articles highlighting the technician certification programs, how to become certified, and how to promote the credential once earned.
The Certification Department’s efforts have paid off, and PLANET has been seeing healthy registrations for the Lawn Care Manager certification program. This distance-based, self-study certificate course, offered through the University of Georgia, has seen a steep increase in enrollments.
Another program making headlines is the Trailblazer program. 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the Trailblazers, which matches mentors with mentees to form business relationships. During the last five years, the program has doubled the number of applicants and participants. This year, a record number of 87 companies applied to be matched with a Trailblazer mentor. Currently, there are 119 Trailblazers and counting!
This was also an important year for safety. PLANET completed its first safety benchmarking report spanning 2009 to 2011. Landscape professionals can use the report to measure their losses per line to the industry average, to see where to improve on their own safety records, and to share with insurance companies when negotiating their insurance renewals.
We are happy to report that the STARS Safe Company Program has grown to a record 1,414 members. This represents the number of sophisticated business leaders advancing safety in our industry.
In addition, through the Susan Harwood Grant, new course materials were generated for the interactive safety training program, titled How Do We Protect Our Ears? and How Do We Protect Our Bodies? The training program is designed for presentation by company supervisory personnel with safety experience, by safety personnel, or by professional trainers or educators who are knowledgeable about the landscape industry. It is provided for FREE to all on the PLANET website.
Just recently, at our annual GIC in Louisville, Ky., the PLANET AEF was thrilled to receive a gift of $225,000 in scholarship funds from the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association (ONLA). With this gift, ONLA has given a total of $300,000 to PLANET AEF to fund scholarships. ONLA’s generous gift and continued commitment positively impacts the lives of many students, as well as the future of the landscape industry.
Lastly, we’re pleased to announce that despite the trend of associations experiencing a net drop in overall membership numbers, PLANET’s net membership numbers have INCREASED since this time last year. Membership retention remains high, at 80%, and new member numbers are the highest they’ve been since PLANET’s inception.
Thank you for your continued support of PLANET. It’s our honor to serve you and to continue to share good news with you.