I did a teaching presentation on Asian longhorned beetle this Tuesday at the Horticulture Inspection Society (HIS), Central Chapter's 48th Annual Conference held in Holland, MI. Other presentations covered international exports, plant taxonomy, hemlock woolly adelgid, spotted lanternfly, to name just a few topics.
The topics provide an insight into what HIS is all about. The members are dedicated to remaining current on the plant problems that can affect all facets of horticulture, arboriculture, and forestry, from industry professionals to backyard gardeners.
That's because HIS members are plant inspectors. They visit nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, tree plantations; any business that sells plants, and they look for plant problems that may be inadvertently passed down the line. They also look for regulated plant problems like gypsy moth so these non-native invasives aren't spread beyond quarantine boundaries.
When I managed a tree farm in Pennsylvania (back when dinosaurs were a serious plant pest), I always looked forward to visits by our Nursery Inspector, Frank Dinsmore, who is now retired from the PA Department of Agriculture. I loved "walking the farm" with Frank and was thankful for his discoveries. He saved our business money by pointing out pest or disease problems that I had missed before they became serious problems and by providing a management blueprint so we could get trees back into the sales stream.
There is a strong connection between the HIS and Ohio. It was founded in 1970 by inspectors representing 7 states who had gathered at the Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio. The group also served as the core for the Central Chapter that now includes 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. There are now four chapters: Central, Eastern, Southern, and Western.
HIS represents an extensive network of dedicated professionals who often stand (literally) between quietly ticking pest or disease time bombs and full-blown outbreak explosions. This is not hyperbole. Just consider the added costs to all facets of horticulture, to arboriculture and forestry, and to backyard gardeners, if plant inspectors did not exist. They are unsung heroes in my book.