ISA International Conference & Trade Show – Texas Style

Fort Worth, Texas in August?  I must admit, I was expecting plenty of heat and humidity, tumbleweeds, dust storms, etc., but instead, attendees of the ISA Annual Conference & Trade Show were treated to beautiful weather, friendly folks, good food, and a wonderful educational event.  In fact, I am now a huge fan of the city of Fort Worth. Easy to get around, hotels conveniently located near the convention center, and a spectacular city park (Fort WorthWaterGardens) that served as a magnet for visitors and locals alike.  Everybody loves water features, but the liability associated with water and steep slopes (see photos) would keep me awake at night.


The proceedings got off to a rousing start as professional tree climbers, Tom Otto and Shawn Sears, who also double as cat rescuers, described in humorous fashion the dangerous business of extracting felines from the tops of trees.  I’m not really a cat lover, but by the end of their keynote presentation, I came to appreciate what they do for cats and for their owners who are so glad to have them back on the ground.


One of my favorite talks of the entire convention was delivered by Dr. Glen Stanosz, Professor of Tree and Forest Health from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  In his presentation, Dr. Stanosz talked about tree decline diseases and how we sometime toss the world “decline” around ill-advisedly and inappropriately.  According to Dr. Stanosz, the word decline is most appropriately applied to situations in which either abiotic or biotic factors cause the gradual deterioration of a tree, often ending in death.  Dead branches in the canopy may or may not be symptoms of decline….it all depends on how the tree responds.  Very interesting…so much so that I’ve invited Dr. Stanosz to speak at the Iowa State University Shade Tree Short Course next February.  C’mon…you can’t blame me for trolling for speakers at someone else’s conference!


Finally, the trade show was interesting, educational, and fun.  Lots of helpful and knowledgeable vendors, books to buy, products to try, and always something to eat.  So if you missed Fort Worth in 2016, don’t get left out when the show moves to WashingtonD.C. in 2017 (July 29 to August 2).  See you there!


By Jeff Iles

Professor and Chair, Iowa State University Department of Horticulture