Winter Symposium Speakers Announced

Winter Symposium

February 21, 2024 - February 21, 2024 , 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Embassy Suites, Charleston, WV
300 Court Street
Charleston, WV 25301

Planning is well underway for WVNLA’s 2024 Winter Symposium on February 21 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. Last year we scheduled our annual members meeting as a breakfast on the same day, providing our members with a chance to connect before heading into the education sessions. We’ll continue that scenario this year, with pre-registration required for the breakfast. Be sure to indicate you plan to attend when you register.

After a brief business meeting, we’ll draw names for door prizes, which last year included electric power equipment for use either on-the-job or at home. We’ll offer the door prizes again.

The education sessions will begin immediately after the breakfast and feature dual tracks of speakers in WVNLA’s usual format, with one lineup focusing on design and the other on business/profit.

On the business side, landscape business guru and motivational speaker Jeff McManus will provide powerful insights on how to grow great workforce teams. Author of the bestselling Growing Weeders into Leaders, McManus will present three topics.

“The GROW System.” McManus works from the position that everybody wants to be successful and they can, by recognizing the personal potential. GROW stands for: Great teams, Raising results, Offense scores and Winning attitudes.

“Crew Leaders Aren’t Created ­– They’re Cultivated.”

“How Creating Your Company Core Values Will Attract and Retain Top Talent.”

You can get a preview and sense of McManus’s philosophy by subscribing to his free blog. Email .

For the day’s final business session, WVNLA members will hold a roundtable discussion on topics of the most interest to you. Have a suggestion? Email Julie Robinson at and she’ll pass it along.

Design speakers will address landscaping for climate change, tropical plants, pruning techniques and West Virginia’s own Little Missy boxwood and its introduction into some of Europe’s famed gardens.

Kim Eirman, founder of EcoBeneficial, will discuss “Landscape Strategies for Climate Change.” Kim teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Native Plant Center and Massachusetts Horticultural Society. She is the author of The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Gardening.

Marianne Wilburn, opinion columnist and author of Tropical Plants and How to Love Them and Big Dreams, Small Garden, will discuss “Playing with Tropical and Subtropical Plants in Temperate Climates.” Marianne is a contributing editor at, where you can find many of her posts.

Former WVNLA president and board member Norman Cole is the third-generation owner of Cole Nurseries in Pipestem. During his career, he has nurtured many boxwood cultivars, but the success of his patented Buxus microphyllya “Little Missy” has exceeded all expectations.  Hear about the plant’s development and meteoric climb in popularity, despite the worldwide threat of boxwood blight. Norman and his wife Missy (the cultivar’s namesake) have taken the West Virginia native plant to Europe, where Little Missys thrive in various infected sites around Paris, most notably at the Luxembourg Gardens, home of the French Senate.

Audra Egan, a regional project manager Davey Resource Group in Ohio, will close out the day with a comprehensive program on pruning. Agan is an ISA Arborist, Certified Pesticide Licensed Applicator in Ohio, and OCNT Master Status with the Ohio Green Industry Association each for over 20 years. She is an active ISA Ohio Chapter member.

Registration opens in January at Cost to attend is $50/WVNLA members and $100/non-members.