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Missoula playing host to Montana Green Expo

Posted at 1:56 PM, Jan 03, 2023

MISSOULA - Montana’s beauty is in large thanks to its landscape — both natural and man-made.

The Montana Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) aims to unify the landscaping industry to better serve the public and the plants in Montana.

The association is hosting its Green Expo from Jan. 3 until Jan. 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula.

They have invited their members from across Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to attend the event and meet other professionals in the industry.

The Expo is filled with educational classes on various landscaping subjects, such as irrigation, pesticides and horticulture.

There is also a trade show with over 80 different vendors who come to share their products or experience.

The vendors are a combination of small businesses and larger corporations like John Deere and Bobcat.

MNLA President Matt Watts says the trade show is an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from colleagues in the field.

“We all think that we’re the greatest, but someone is always doing something a little bit different," he told MT NNews.

The landscaping industry is evolving and, like most industries, is struggling to retain employees, according to Watts.

The expo will help inspire collaboration, build community and hopefully encourage professionals to stay in the field.

The Montana Nursery and Landscape Association works all year to build this collaboration among its members.

“We’re only stronger when we’re put together as a group, and this is a great organization to bring us together," Watts said.

Landscaping can be difficult in Montana because of the diverse terrain across the state, according to Watts, so it is important that horticulture professionals keep learning and keep improving their techniques.

Watts feels particularly passionate about keeping the Montana landscaping industry alive and thriving.

“I’ve been in landscaping all my life, to me, on a new build, it’s nothing that you put on the inside that is exciting, it’s the connection that we have with the outdoors," he said. "And so, through the years, I’ve provided a life, within this industry and to give back to it, and to represent the folks of Montana, is why I got involved with MNLA.”

The MNLA also works to give back to the community and benefit the public.

People can nominate a section of their neighborhood for new landscaping, and the association will choose some of the nominated areas to renovate.

The MNLA has worked on Rose Memorial Park in Missoula, as well as Woodland Zoo in Billings. The organization also offers scholarships and grants to people or companies who apply.

The association recently received a grant from the state, but events like the Green Expo are financed by member fees.

Their state grant is being used to create a comprehensive educational website where professionals can earn certifications and fine-tune their skills.

Additional information about the Montana Green Expo can be found here.