NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance Day of Service: An Industry Experience of a Lifetime

26 Jul NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance Day of Service: An Industry Experience of a Lifetime

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One day of remembrance has turned into a lifetime experience of giving for landscapers across the nation. Since its inception in 1966, Renewal and Remembrance has brought landscapers big and small once a year to Arlington National Cemetery. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, 2016 showcased 580 volunteer landscapers who traveled to Washington D.C. to give of their time and talents and pay respects to the fallen. Sun Valley Landscaping sent two representatives this year, CEO Paul Fraynd, and General Manager, Ashly Neneman.

“This is the ultimate representation of giving back. I don’t have the chance to serve my country so this is how I give back to those who have served,” explains Fraynd.

It is truly a family event. We put aside our differences, our competitors, our daily priorities, and we sacrifice one day a year to remind every family represented in the cemetery that we will never forget. Many volunteers reported how eye-opening it is to see the camaraderie and respect for not only the grounds, but the meaning behind the day of service.

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“It’s neat that you can use your talent to give back, but it’s also the experience of being involved in something that directly affects our nation. The amount of passion in people who work in our industry is evident when you see these big, tough landscapers filled with tears. It’s more than powerful, “explains Fraynd and Neneman.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) works 11 months of the year to plan and organize the Renewal and Remembrance Day of Service. Through the help of multiple sponsorships and local contractor material and equipment donations, 400 acres is cared for within 3 hours. Arlington National Cemetery even budgets accordingly each year for this day, relying on these volunteers to help accomplish their maintenance needs.

The Renewal and Remembrance Day of Service is kicked off with a ceremony presented by the ground’s caretakers. Three hours and 580 volunteers later, everything from bed cleanups, tree maintenance, mowing and aeration is accomplished.

“Landscaping is a tangible way to give back. Standing out overlooking the cemetery, you see there is 100 years of landscaping here. It shows the impact our industry has had on our nation and the sweat of landscapers across the land. It was just surreal to experience it,” reminisces Fraynd and Neneman.

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In addition to the Day of Service, all industry representatives who sit on national councils held board meetings the day prior. General Manager Ashly Neneman holds a chair on the National Education Council where she reviews training and certification programs to help build career paths within the industry. CEO Paul Fraynd is on the public affairs council to advocate for legislation and current issues that face our industry such as H2B, fertilizer and pesticide bans and works to protect our industry’s ability to keep landscapes beautiful.

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However, Sun Valley Landscaping’s trip to D.C. didn’t end there! Paul Fraynd worked to arrange meetings with our industry leaders and senators weeks in advance to discuss the labor issues our industry is facing, specifically the H2B program. For anyone not familiar with this program and the workers it provides our industry, you can learn more here.

“People view politicians as unobtainable, but our perspectives were changed after our meetings as we learned they were truly public servants. It’s easy to sit back and complain all day long, but we encourage you to make an appointment with your senator because they actually spend their days talking with their constituents and people don’t take advantage of that,” explains Neneman.

Fraynd and Neneman were overwhelmed with the support they received from our senators. Senator Deb Fischer and Senator Sass and his assistant researched the topic thoroughly beforehand and asked questions to understand our industry’s perspective. The team at Sun Valley Landscaping plans to continue updating both senators throughout the year to build on the relationship and hopes to one day bring them to our company.

“It sounds cliché, but the experience was life-changing. On this trip we saw the best in landscapers, the best in our representatives, and it brought out the best in our industry. We have both brought experiences back home with us. As leaders of our company and industry, it’s definitely something that will impact our culture and we hope to bring more of our employees with us next year.” –Paul Fraynd.

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