March 7th Conference Call

Attendees: Debbie, Gail, Casey, Ellen, Pam, Margaret, Shannon, Suzi, Clint, Julie

1) SCRI Proposal (Ellen and Gail)

i. Successful submission to last Wednesday

ii. What to expect in next 1-2 months re: proposal: we sit and wait to hear word. Best strategy is not to wait to hear back from them, but to proceed with our plan to have our next national meeting, regardless. Our proposal was strong, but was fundamentally different than other proposals that have been funded. Subject of our future calls will be to

iii. To Do: Ellen will upload submitted proposal to Box Site. Executive Summary may be good to post on website.

2) Website Update Status and Review of Submission Pathway for Requested Changes (Ellen)

a. Richie set up a site for our group ( There is a ‘channel’ for the NICH website ( Please enter in needed NICH website changes on the website ‘channel’ on the Slack site (

b. To Do: Richie ~ send out invites to NICH committee members (during meeting, Gail sent invite to Suzi, Clint, Pam)

c. To Do: Add Slack process/website update on the next agenda.

3) Marketing Committee Report (Suzi McCoy)

a. Recent meetings update and committee strategy (refer to addendum, NICH MarCom Meeting Minutes)

i. Focus is on reaching industry influencers, and getting industry buy-in, rather than a general public campaign. At this time, it is a little pre-mature to get hung up on a hashtag, when the focus is on reaching industry influencers.

b. #hashtag #approvalconfirmationofhashtag

i.  #findyournich + #(fill in your passion) + #garden

1. e.g. #findyournich #WitchHazelFlowers #garden

ii. #plantsdothat is another hashtag that resonated with the group

iii. #findyournich #plantsdothat #garden (make sure to keep garden as a hashtag, because #garden is a powerful hashtag)

c. Suzi has put together proposals to present on NICH at Cultivate (, in July, and at the Garden Writers Conference (, in August.

i. Marketing committee will have 3 slides on NICH that all members of NICH can use to communicate about NICH. These 3 slides will be general, umbrella slides that can set the stage on NICH ~ subsequent slides can ‘personalize’ the committee.

ii. Julie noted that it would be great to have a space on the master slides to brand our own organizations/universities.

iii. Clint asked if we could put together a social time for our group at NICH. Casey said he would touch base with Susan from Seed Your Future to see what might be possible.

4) Reports/Updates from Committees and Councils (Chairs or Designates)

a. Committee Reports

i. Economic Committee (Debbie): they are finalizing infographic and are putting together the reference list for the first infographic. Next draft of this first infographic may be ready for review by next bi-weekly conference call. They are also putting together a great infographic for indoor plants. Once the process is set for the first infographic, it will be much easier to put together additional infographics.

ii. Environmental Committee (Julie): Lucy Bradley suggested that the NICH committees could present on the results of the gap analysis for each committee. They are moving forward on the gap analysis for the environmental committee. They are producing an abstract for an ASHS workshop, at the consumer hort and master gardener working group at ASHS annual meeting, in December.

1. Ellen noted that this is a great opportunity to get the gap analysis into publication, as we have historically published the outcomes of the consumer hort and master gardener working group meeting at ASHS meetings.

2. Original email from Lucy is included in these minutes as Addendum 2.

3. Julie is going to propose presenting on NICH at Northern Green (industry conference). She mentioned that it would be great to have access to the master slides from the MarCom group, and to have a space on the master to co-brand our organization / university

iii. Social Committee (Pam): group is working on gap analysis. It is a monumental task. The committee developed a spreadsheet of key words to look for. Pam is going to ASHS and can present for others who can not attend.

1. National County Ag Agents meeting is in July in Salt Lake City ~ Pam is thinking of presenting at NACAA. It is a good opportunity to present it to Extension educators.

2. The committee is suggesting a name change from Social Committee to Community Health Benefits.

3. To Do: Pam to come up with a few suggested alternatives, to bring forward at next conference call.

b. Council Reports

i. Land Grant Universities / Government Councils (Margaret): no update.

1. IPPS: international plant propagators society might be a great place to present NICH. They have both industry and academics at this meeting.

ii. Industry Council (Clint): holding tight, waiting to get information out to people.

iii. NGO Council (Shannon): since Tom has transitioned to a new position, he is stepping back from co-chairing the NGO Council. Shannon is looking for a new co-chair. Work at DUG is cyclical, so it would be good to have someone to cover while she is swamped, and vice versa. It would be great to specifically partner with someone who has a national scope, rather than a regional scope.

1. To Do: All to come up with suggestions of NGO co-chair.

5) Additional Items from the Floor

a. Email from Esther McGinnis that cuts of 13-19% coming to her program in NDSU. She will have to step back from NICH work, since needs to switch to grant writing. But, it also underscores the importance of NICH work.

b. Julie commented that one of the first things on the chopping block (especially at county level) are Master Gardeners, since decision makers see MGs as so efficient / able to ‘run on their own’.

c. Casey noted that documenting the impact of Master Gardeners (which the Extension MG National Committee is doing). The role of MGs as advocates can not be understated.

d. Clint noted that from the industry side of things, it is easy to forget the importance of MGs. If our group can get an article together on the impact of MGs, we can get the word out to industry. To Do: Pam said that she would work on getting an article together. Clint said he could help facilitate, by setting up a series of interviews, perhaps. Pam noted that we are trying to move towards a standard reporting document that all states can use. Currently, states report different information.

e. Julie noted that there is sometimes competition between industry and MGs, whereas it is instead important to remember that MGs are consumers, as well as great marketers.

6) Review Action Items

a. Items for the Next agenda

i. consider name change for social committee

1. To Do: Pam to come up with a few suggested alternatives, to bring forward at next conference call.

ii. Strategy / plan for presenting NICH at meetings in 2017

iii. How to move NICH along, as we wait for word on grant proposal

iv. Review Slack process and website update (how is it working?) on next agenda

b. To Do: Ellen will upload submitted proposal to Box Site. Executive Summary may be good to post on website.

c. To Do: Pam said that she would work on getting an article together. Clint said he could help facilitate, by setting up a series of interviews, perhaps.

d. To Do: All to come up with suggestions of NGO co-chair.

e. To Do: Richie ~ send out invite to NICH committee members (during meeting, Gail sent invite to Suzi, Clint, Pam). If you’re not already on Slack ~ please do not ignore the invite.

Addendum #1: NICH MarCom Meeting Minutes, March 1, 2017

#findyournich #(fill in your passion) #garden

NEXT Meeting: March 1, 2017 10-11 AM EST

In attendance:

  • Gary
  • Natalie
  • Shawna
  • Mason
  • Debbie
  • Katie
  • Shannon
  • Susan

Goal for NICH MarCom Committee:

Establish NICH as the united front to stimulate economic growth in the consumer horticultural industry and communicate this message to industry leaders, influencers and decision makers


Review tasks completed. Agree to elevator pitch, define objectives and deliverables, and assign tasks, discuss economic infographic and how to use

1. Reviewed minutes from the ExCom Conference call regarding the MarCom Committee

2. Tasks divided on attached spread sheet

3. Need Q&A – send questions to Suzi –

4. Regroup and make decision by next meeting – This is a statement to explain to someone within the industry what NICH is. This is not a tagline.

a. NICH is the unified front to stimulate demand for gardening

b. NICH is a grassroots industry movement to stimulate demand for gardening

c. NICH is the horticultural industry’s solution to increase demand for gardening

5. Target markets agreed upon. A Google docs will be created by Katie and Suzi for building the list:

a. Influencers

b. Hort Industry Leaders

c. Top 100 retailers

d. Government policy makers – Ag Committee

e. National and state nursery and landscape associations

f. Universities & Extensions

g. Non-profits

h. Public gardens

i. Other Affiliated Groups, i.e., League of Municipalities

6. We agreed to these four objectives. Katie Elzer Peters and Suzi McCoy will look at flushing out the deliverables, keeping the goal in mind our goal is to build awareness for NICH within the industry:

a. Define the Brand & Craft Messaging

b. Identify & Reach Key Influencers in Target Markets

c. Build & Nurture Supporters

d. Promote & Drive Messages

7. Economic info graphic

a. Debbie discussed how the infographic will be posted on the NICH website for open access for all to use for the long term

b. It will be branded with the NICH logo and a line prepared by National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture

c. It was discussed that houseplants need to be added to the Home section

d. We will develop a plan to promote the infographic into our communications and promotions within the industry

e. Hashtag – we all liked #plantsdothat. There was discussion that this hashtag is widely encompassing of more than gardening. It was also discussed that our focus is on messaging to the industry and not to consumers and this may be a great hashtag for industry. We decided that it is premature to develop a #hashtag now when our focus needs to be on building awareness within the industry. We tabled this discussion for a later time.

8. Focus: It was discussed that we need to build our foundation and focus on creating awareness within the industry before we do outreach to consumers.

Addendum 2: Invitation from Lucy Bradley to present NICH work at Consumer Horticulture Master Gardener working group meeting at ASHS national meeting


Each year at the annual conference of the American Society of Horticultural Science the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener working group hosts a 1.5 hour workshop.  As we have in the past, this year we would like to focus on reporting the progress of the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture and recruiting support for moving forward.  This year the conference will be held:

September 19-22, 2017 | Waikoloa, Hawaii

We would like to invite the NICH committee chairs to present their gap analysis lit reviews.  This would provide an opportunity for a national presentation and also to have the results printed in HortTech Journal.  The working group chair is the lead author of the article and each presenter is a co-author as is the workshop coordinator.

If you are not able to present please recruit someone from your committee to represent you or agree to provide a presentation that other NICH members who are attending the conference could present on your behalf.

Information on Workshop Proposals can be found at the site below.

Each presenter must be registered for the conference.  ASHS members must register and pay in full the appropriate registration fees.  Invited non-member speakers (have not been a member of ASHS for the last 5 calendar years) are limited to three per workshop and their registration fee is waived for the entire conference.

Workshop proposals are due March 15, 2017. All speakers must be confirmed by June 1, 2017 and be registered by June 11, 2017.


  • Notify me if you would like to participate, and if not, who will be representing you.
  • Let me know if you have been a member of ASHS in past 5 years
  • Send me an abstract, including your name, title, institution and a paragraph about your committee report content.
  • I need your abstract by 3/13 to get everything assembled and turned in by 3/15 but I would appreciate your responding at your earliest convenience


Lucy (