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Frequently Asked Questions about Unification

What happens now that both organizations have voted to make unification happen?

Through April 2023, both organizations will continue to operate and run programs independently. This will allow for the foundation to be laid for one organization without any disruption of member services. IGIA Executive Director Kellie Schmidt and ILCA Executive Director Scott Grams will continue in their current capacities.

IGIA will still host its popular perennial programs such as InVigorateU and the Fall Growers Tour. ILCA will offer its full calendar of events, as well. IGIA and ILCA staff and committees will support one another when necessary. IGIA and ILCA members we will receive the member rates for each other’s programs. ILCA will promote all IGIA programs on its website and calendar of events.

On April 30, 2023, IGIA will cease operations, Kellie Schmidt will begin working for ILCA in her new role, and IGIA programs will move forward under the ILCA banner. IGIA members will receive an annual membership dues renewal from ILCA mid-May 2023.

After unification, will IGIA members have the same voting rights as ILCA members?

One of the changes that ILCA made to their bylaws, as per the Memo of Understanding finalized by both boards of directors, was that contractor and supplier members would have equal standing and voting rights in the organization moving forward. IGIA members will become part of either the contractor/garden center or supplier class, depending on business classification. They will have voting rights immediately and be eligible for board leadership and officer positions in the future.

What will happen to the ICN Pro Program after unification?

With our upcoming unification with ILCA, we’re looking forward to a lot of great new programs and training that we will be able to offer the industry, especially to areas outside Chicago. Unfortunately, one of the programs that will be discontinued is the ICN Pro Program. The program has declined in participation in the last five years, falling from over 300 participating professionals to just 62 remaining. Although we have tried to breathe new life into the program with features on GardenIllinois.com and social media, participation at InVigorateU, and more, we have not regained momentum.

The study manual and paper exam have not been updated for over a decade and as such, would require a significant overhaul to address the challenges today’s horticulture professionals face in their work. Making content updates and moving the content to a digital platform would require significant resources that don’t match the waning level of interest in the program.

At the end of 2022, existing ICN Pros that are current on their certification will be grandfathered in, allowing them to use the designation in perpetuity without having to pay a renewal fee in the future. However, no additional exams will be offered to professionals looking to pursue the designation in 2022-2023.

Will InVigorateU still take place in Central Illinois after unification?

ILCA is committed to the continuation of InVigorateU as a cornerstone education conference for the downstate Illinois market. The 2023 event is scheduled for January 17-18 at the DoubleTree Hilton in Bloomington, IL. The InVigorateU committee members will become an important part of the ILCA education committee in 2023. They will work together to explore opportunities to make InVigorateU stronger in the future.

Will the organization remain as the Illinois Landscape Contractors in the future, even with the addition of growers and garden centers? Is there a possibility that the name will be modified?

The two organizations crafted a Memo of Understanding that defined terms of the unification. This agreement includes a provision for a task force of five members that will evaluate the costs, benefits, and options for a name change and make recommendations to the ILCA board of directors. This effort will begin no later than July 1, 2024.

Will we continue to receive a membership dues notice from IGIA?

The IGIA membership dues renewal notices were mailed in May 2022, with a payment due date of July 1, 2022. We have asked our members to renew membership with IGIA one more year so that we can deliver on our promises before the unification is complete. IGIA staff and the board of directors will continue working to promote and protect your interests, even as the effort to become part of the larger organization commences.

In late spring 2023, you will not receive a renewal notice from IGIA. ILCA will send membership renewal notices to all IGIA members. If you are already a member of ILCA, you only pay one membership moving forward. If you have not been a member of ILCA in the past, we are asking you to join moving forward so that you will benefit from the support and programming that the unified organization provides.

ILCA is in the process of changing its fiscal year to a calendar year. Therefore, dues will be billed as follows to all IGIA and ILCA members:

  • July 1, 2023-December 31, 2024 (18 months to get us on the calendar year cycle)
  • January 1, 2025-December 31, 2025 (12 months)

What happens to Kellie’s job after unification?

IGIA Executive Director Kellie Schmidt will join ILCA as the Statewide Director of Development beginning in May 2023. Working remotely, she will work alongside ILCA Executive Director Scott Grams who will remain the Executive Director of the combined organization. Kellie’s role will allow the unified organization to offer programs across the state while maintaining the popular programs ILCA has built in the Chicagoland area. She is excited about the opportunity to bring proven ILCA training programs to the markets outside of Chicago for the benefit of our members.

How can IGIA members continue to stay involved after unification to be sure our perspective is heard?

One of the greatest assets of ILCA is that their programs are driven by membership. ILCA is a bottom-up organization where its volunteer committees help run the organization alongside the staff and board. There are 22 existing committees within the current structure and new committees coming soon with the addition of IGIA member participation. Most of these committees now have hybrid meetings to respect the busyness of the season and geographic location.

There are many ways to get plugged into the existing committees and to be involved in the IGIA Growers and InVigorateU committees that will become part of ILCA after unification. We need fresh ideas and perspective and welcome your participation. We are also exploring a future Garden Center/Retail committee and the chance to form downstate chapters of the Women’s Networking, Young Professionals, and Future Landscape Industry Professionals (FLIP) committees, but we can only make this happen when members join us in the effort. Visit ilca.net/professional/committee_involvement/ to learn more.

What if I have questions or concerns that aren’t addressed here?

We want to hear from you! IGIA members can contact Kellie Schmidt at 217-546-4733. ILCA members may contact Scott Grams at 630-472-2851.