Drainage Contractor

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LICA’s View: Back on track


October 25, 2021
By Bob Clark, II

The Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA) held its first in-person convention in almost a year and a half this past July in Niagara Falls. It was very well attended. NYLICA did an excellent job in hosting the event with great tours and educational seminars.

Sadly, the only real restriction due to COVID was that we were not able to cross the Canadian border to see the locks at the Welland Canal. Still, there is nothing quite like Niagara Falls. As always, I had a great time with the good friends I have been able to make over the years through National LICA.

Lending a helping hand
In future-looking news, LICA has just announced its new initiative, the LICA Educational Foundation for Veterans. Through the foundation, we will train veterans, initially at our national headquarters in Lyle, IL starting next year. We are currently in the process of setting up the training program now. We are also in the process of raising funds for the foundation and just recently initiated a GoFundMe site on our social media platforms. The foundation’s mission is to train military veterans to become highly skilled operators and, hopefully, an employment resource for many LICA contractors who are always looking for equipment operators.

Strengthening relationships
LICA is continuing to expand and strengthen its relationships with key organizations including the NRCS, NACD and ADMC. These working relationships, codified by MOUs, continue to help our industry improve the efficiency with which we can deliver conservation practices aimed at reducing erosion, improving rural water quality outcomes and production agriculture simultaneously. Working together for the benefit of all always makes sense at LICA. 

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Some of the most important steps in the process will need to start at the state chapter level with the NRCS state technical committees. LICA and NRCS have outlined and agreed that having a LICA contractor on the committee will help prioritize the practices that need the most attention.

Another important aspect of the MOU with LICA and the NRCS involves the sharing of technology with each other. The pace of technical change is relentless. It can be challenging to keep up with the rapid rate of change.

RTK GPS systems can be installed on many machines, like plows, trenchers, dozers and excavators.  Educating both parties on the application of these technologies improves the rate at which conservation can be constructed. Working together and educating both parties is key to improving conservation program outputs. Everybody wants to track key performance indicators (KPIs).

Staying connected
Membership is another important part of the LICA mission. It has been, in recent years, challenging to engage with prospective members as we once did, and so we have modified our approach, using social media as much as possible. Take a minute to check out our social media for the most accurate information available. The national staff works hard to secure the best benefits possible for its members. For more information visit the LICA website at www.licanational.com.

It was great to get together in Niagara Falls. Our winter convention will be held in San Antonio, TX, Feb. 15-19, 2022. It’s an awesome venue and I look forward to seeing many of my LICA friends and family there. Please make plans to join us in San Antonio – you won’t regret it!

More on the LICA Educational Foundation for Veterans
“Years ago, when the Vietnam war was raging, I didn’t get drafted because I had a wife and two children,” said national LICA CEO Jerry Biuso, Sr in a statement. “A lot of my buddies went, and not all of them came back. If I’d gone, I probably wouldn’t have come back either. I don’t know the business end of a gun.” Biuso describes the establishment of the foundation as “a revelation.” Helping veterans get jobs, access training and make a good living was a way of thanking them for their service, he adds.

The curriculum
The first training event, held in early 2022, will introduce participants to heavy equipment including: bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, skid steers, motor graders, wheel loaders and dump trucks. Computer simulators will be used to teach attendees the fundamentals. After two weeks in the classroom, participants will spend four weeks working in the field.

The team
Longtime LICA leaders governing the foundation include Biuso and Clark as well as: Harry Hauschild (Nebraska), Don Loken (Minnesota), Eddy Mayen (Washington, DC), John Peterson (Virginia), John Weatherhead (Florida) and Merlin Welch (California). Eileen Levy will serve as treasurer, and Allison Hack is director of communications.

Supporting the foundation
LICA has ambitious plans for the future of the foundation – those interested in supporting its growth can do so at: https://gofund.me//85aaele3


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