Click here to see photos from the event.
The weather was unseasonably cool in Louisville for this year’s Green Industry Conference (GIC) and GIE+EXPO, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 75 PLANET members and conference attendees who volunteered for the third, annual PLANET Gives Back event. This event was created in 2011 as a way to give back to the conference’s host city and to showcase the expertise, knowledge and resources of the landscape industry and the impact it makes on communities. It is organized by PLANET members with the help of sponsors and local donations of material and equipment.
Home of the Innocents, a nonprofit shelter and pediatric convalescent center, was the focus of PLANET Gives Back 2013. The Home provides services to those facing severe crisis, including children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, are medically fragile or have autism.
On Oct. 23, PLANET Gives Back volunteers spent the afternoon sprucing up the grounds of the Home. They installed more than 25 trees that were lost a few years ago as a result of a construction project and a drought. These trees will help to improve the natural screening along the perimeters of the property, increase air quality and improve the NuLu (“New Louisville”) areas canopy. In addition, the volunteers installed and repaired new drip irrigation around all of the newly installed trees to ensure they have a healthy and successful future, installed new playground mulch so the children have a safe area to play in, cleaned up the butterfly garden and put it to sleep for the winter season and cleaned up the raised planter beds and installed a cold crop for the winter.
“I was very proud and honored to have led the team this year for the third annual PLANET Gives Back and to be able to work among the members and volunteers,” said PLANET Gives Back Project Leader, Alex Fransen, landscape development manager for Steele Blades in Louisville. “We work in a very humble industry and, as a Louisville native, it means a lot that the association would be willing to give back to our city and help benefit a very deserving local organization, such as the Home of the Innocents. We do these projects because it feels great to have a positive impact on our communities and it’s the right thing to do.”
Students from three PLANET-accredited colleges and universities also participated in PLANET Gives Back this year: Cincinnati State Technical Community College, Cincinnati; Hinds Community College, Raymond, Miss.; and Ozarks Community College, Springfield, Mo. Martha Hill, program manager, Landscape Management Department of Hinds Community College, makes community service a regular occurrence with her students.
“To be a part of PLANET Gives Back this year was great for our team of 10 students,” Hill said. “The networking opportunities were such a subtle thing, but valuable in so many ways – being able to work alongside industry professionals, company owners, equipment reps, and other students. Most community service projects ‘give back’ more to those who participate than to the recipients. PLANET Gives Back was no exception.”
This year’s project was in keeping with Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer’s initiative to revitalize and enhance Louisville neighborhoods. Maria Koetter, Louisville’s director of sustainability, stopped by to pay the volunteers a visit. “We love what you do for the world. You keep our world green. You keep our world beautiful,” she told them. One of the goals within the mayor’s strategic plan includes the planting of 10,000 trees. He is also focused on promoting volunteerism and giving back.
In addition to the volunteers, a number of companies helped to make this event happen. PLANET is extremely grateful to the event’s lead sponsors: GIE+EXPO, Bartlett Tree Experts, Belgard Hardscapes, Blizzard Snowplows, CNA Business Insurance, Fisher, Include Software, NatureSafe, JOHN DEERE, and Western; and to STIHL Inc. and Syngenta, the supporting sponsors.
For more information on the event, click here or call the PLANET office at 800-395-2522.
The author is associate director of public relations at PLANET.