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Skaggs: Winter Green conference to feature industry experts Jan. 21-23
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If you're part of Georgia's horticulture or turfgrasss industry, you will definitely want to attend the Georgia Green Industry Association's Winter Green/Winter School conference Jan. 21-23 at the Classic Center in Athens.

The three-day conference offers workshops and seminars designed to bring industry professionals the latest in water management, landscaping, nursery practices and marketing. Many workshops offer pesticide recertification credits or arborist CEUs.

This year's show is bigger and better than ever with the addition of 80 new exhibitor booth spaces and a slate of seminars highlighting important issues and cutting-edge trends within the industry.

Environmental issues continue to be at the forefront, and several expert speakers will present seminars on the topic. More than any other issue, water and the ongoing drought are primary concerns for all in the green industry.

Not only must landscapers, growers and retailers stay informed on local and state regulations, they must also be prepared to embrace new technology and new ways of thinking about landscape irrigation.
2009 marks the first year that the Georgia Green Industry Association will partner with the Georgia Irrigation Association to not only offer seminars in irrigation design and efficiency but also offer testing for irrigation certification. Other offerings include seminars on partnering landscape design and plant selection with efficient irrigation system design.

Sustainability, both in business and in the environment, are hot topics not only in the green industry but for all businesses. While this hot-button phrase is often overused and sometimes misunderstood, seminars will be offered to teach participants how they can achieve true sustainability both within their own operations and on the job site as well.

Green roofs, green spaces and green buildings will be covered as well as biological alternatives to traditional chemical applications for controlling turf and ornamental pest problems. Special attention will be paid to the fact that not only can these alternative techniques and practices minimize your effect on the environment, they can also ultimately add to your business' profitability.

The Georgia Green Industry Association is a nonprofit association, incorporated in the state of Georgia, representing the interests of the state's nursery, garden center and landscape industry. Membership is made of nursery stock growers, landscape contractors and maintenance firms, garden centers, arborists and allied suppliers.

GGIA's mission is to lead the horticultural industry in marketing quality products and services by promoting professionalism through education, certification, and environmental stewardship, monitoring legislative issues and interacting with other industry allies.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at