FNPS Board Meeting and Council of Chapters Meeting,
Don’t jeopardize the FNPS non-profit status: Mind your PE’s, especially on Facebook
It was noted that several chapters have posted political endorsements (PE’s) for green candidates on their individual Facebook pages. You put the state and chapter in jeopardy of losing out non-profit, 501-3c status whenever you do this. As a 501-3c, we can discuss issues and policies, but we cannot show support or non-support of any legislative candidate. The need to abide by this rule is even more critical in an election year because every mention of a candidate is being tracked by someone, and if an opponent sees it on your Facebook page they may bring it to the attention of the state. On the same topic, if a legislature up for re-election talks to your chapter during a meeting, they should be there to discuss a program or an issue, but they cannot campaign, nor should the chapter imply endorsement of their candidacy.
Spreading the influence of FNPS without jeopardizing our non-profit status…
Just because we cannot endorse candidates does not mean we cannot be effective in influencing legislature and policy on the state and local level. The single most effective way you can advance the mission of FNPS and take a stance against bad land management projects is to participate in county hearings, both as an individual and a member of your (Name) Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. Gene Kelly, Policy Chair, stated that while you want to encourage as many members as possible to speak at these hearings, only one person should state that they represent the FNPS Chapter (always state the Chapter by name, not just FNPS) because if everyone says they are representing the chapter the commissioners may assume that as one opinion, rather than several individual voices. If it is a state issue, rather than a local issue, FNPS will send out an action alert, and will provide talking points for the hearings. Gene says your influence is greatest as a constituent of your elected official and “we want our membership to have relationships with our legislatures” so when they need an opinion on an related issue they contact FNPS. There was a great presentation at the last conference on this topic. You can watch the entire presentation on the FNPS website, here.
Land management reviews and 10-year state park management plan advisory committees…
FNPS members who attend the Florida Department of Environmental Protection land management reviews are able to influence the way preserved public lands are protected and used. There are several openings for land management reviews and observers (first time reviewers). You can find more information on our website: http://www.fnps.org/committee/partners. In addition to the land management reviews of state owned lands, Wendy Poag and Patricia Burgos, FNPS land management committee members, reminded us that the state parks have to rewrite their park management plan every ten years. Citizens are invited to attend public hearings to learn about proposed management activities and recreational activities at state parks. Public comment is accepted at public hearings. If a citizen cannot attend, they may send written comments to mailto:FL_StateParkPlanning@dep.state.fl.us up to two weeks after the public hearing. If you are interested in learning more about public hearings, please sign up to receive emails from the Department of Environmental Protection. Sign up at www.dep.state.fl.us. In the left column, share your email address. When you click submit, you’ll be given a list of subscription topics. Select DEP Divisions, Recreation and Parks. FNPS encourages members to participate in land management reviews and/or read and comment on the management plans to ensure that our public lands are being managed in a way that protects and preserves native plants and native plant communities.
Florida Native Plant Month, the proclamations are coming…
Attending a proclamation of Florida Native Plant month for your locality is another way to get FNPS in front of your legislatures. Andy Taylor will be contacting each chapter as the proclamations dates roll out. Please plan to send as many representatives to the proclamation as possible. While only one personal needs to speak, the presence of several people from your chapter is important. Also, it is nice to take a gift of native plant or native plant seed, along with an informational package) to give each of your commissioners. Speaking of Native Plant Month, please advertise all of your events in October on your Facebook page, website and in the FNPS calendar, then copy Andy on the details so he can promote it on the state level. Also, follow up by sending Andy photos of your proclamations and events.
Clearing the right-of-way for native plants…
Juliet Rynear, speaking as the chair of the conservation committee, mentioned that monitoring natives in the right-of-way does not mean “no mowing.” What needs to be developed is a prescription for mowing that first defines what plants are in the right-of-way, then when is it ok to mow, and when not to mow. Just like we have developed prescriptions for fire to sustain plant populations, we need to develop prescriptions for mowing for the DOT.
Mapping milkweed, make it your mission too…
Over at least the last year, perhaps longer, FNPS board member Scott Davis has been making it his mission to find and map Asclepias (milkweed) species throughout Florida, but he cannot do it alone. Most of us take photos while we’re on fieldtrips and we usually are drawn to Milkweeds. So, all we need to do is photograph the milkweed species, take a GPS reading of the location if possible, and note how many individual plants you see, then add the data to Scott’s Milkweed Atlas. If you do not have the link to the Atlas contact your Chapter representative.
Membership…the road to 4000
Currently the FNPS membership stands at 3700. Jonnie Spitler, membership chair and president of the Nature Coast Chapter, introduced a new membership postcard/membership card to be sent to all new members. The Nature Coast Chapter generously donated the money to have these cards printed. Jonnie says our goal should be to have 4000 members by January of 2017. If chapters average an additional two memberships per month in September, October, November, and December, we would meet that goal. Jonnie also said we should be pushing more sustaining memberships. Sustaining members are those the that give $10.00 a month through an automatic payment by credit card. She said chapters should be talking about membership at every meeting.
THE BOARD MEETING
After a tasty lunch of tacos and red rice, we reconvened for the board member. Being a bit full, I would have found it hard to stay awake if not for all the exciting agenda items:
FNPS Meets the Wild West….
The venue for the 2017 FNPS conference (May 17-21, 2017) was unveiled and approved by the board, and the winner is Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo. In a secluded location just south of US Hwy 60 on the Kissimmee River, Westgate River Ranch is centrally located between the Atlantic and Gulf beaches within Polk County, Florida. Lodging options include everything from rustic lodge suites with full or partial kitchens, to glamping (completely furnished air-conditioned tents) to RV and tent camping. There are also more expensive options, such as luxury teepees, cottages and cabins, but these are not part of the FNPS block or rooms. This venue was chosen for its availability in May, excellent lodging and food options, and its ability to accommodate our various space needs for meetings, vendors, plant sales and socials. While there are no nearby towns, stores or alternative lodging, it is surrounded by conservation lands and state parks for excellent fieldtrip opportunities. The lodging rates will be good for 3 days before and 3 days after the conference, so our members can take advantage of the venue’s other activities, such as airboat rides, fishing, horseback riding, hayrides, swamp buggy rides and more. Mark your calendars and dust off your cowboy boots.
Break out the champagne, the donor policy has passed…
You would think taking money would be a no-brainer: Someone offers it, you take it. Not so, especially for political candidates, environmental organizations, and people with a conscience. After a full year of committee involvement in writing and re-writing a donor policy, Devon Higginbotham, VP of Finance, presented a four-page policy that was unanimously approved by the board. In simple terms, the policy sets the level of approval (Executive Board vs. Full Board) by the type and amount of the donation. Donations come in the form or donors, grants, sponsors and bequests. The bottom line is we can solicit money from anyone, but board approval in required before the money, and any terms associated with it, are accepted and received. Andy, the ball is in your court now: find us some money!
Protecting our identity: Copyrighting the FMPS Logo…
Shirley Denton, communications chair, did some research into officially copywriting the FNPS logo. Although a copyright exists the moment a logo is created, registering a logo with the US Copyright Office puts the facts of the copyright on public record and may be beneficial in settling a case of copyright infringement, such as misuse of our logo by someone other than FNPS. The board voted to spend $170.00 to copyright a color and black and white version of our logo. Shirley also mentioned that we should be receiving releases from people who create logos, conference art or other such works for the society so we are free to use them in our publicity, website and other communications and printed products. It was also mentioned that chapters need to be reminded to stop using old versions of the logos and replace them with the most recent versions on the website.
THE COUNCIL OF CHAPTERS
Prior to the COC meeting, the representatives were sent an email of several topics and asked to name two that they would like to discuss in length. Of course, as usual, the COC’s time was cut short and we had to make our discussions quick. The two topics chosen were the FNPS Website and The Milkweed Project.
Website help coming...
The good news is that more chapters want to use their websites. The bad news is that some of those chapters have websites that need to be updated and many don’t know how to perform even the most basic tasks to add copy and images to their websites. After much discussion two solutions were offered:
1. It was explained that those chapters who have allowed their website to go dormant for quite a while may need to have updates installed. They were told to contact Paul Rebman and ask him to make sure their website has the latest software updates installed. If they are having password issues, they were advised to contact Shirley Denton.
2. To address the issue of how to use the website, Donna Bollenbach and Jan Allyn offered to hold a workshop (or workshops) with ten chapter reps at a time to give them hands on instruction in setting up, designing and maintaining their website. COC Director Dave Feagles felt we should not move forward with workshops without the involvement of Shirley Denton or Paul Rebman. Additional discussion questioned why the website was not more user friendly and it was suggested that we find a new host. Donna suggested while she agreed the software could be easier to use, if after attending a workshop if members still felt we need to pursue that avenue, we could discuss it. As a compromise, Richard suggested we form a committee to discuss the website issue. The final decision was to form the committee, postpone any workshops and discuss the issue again in a future meeting.
The Milkweed Project, to seed or not to seed…
In addition to the points made in the general assembly, some members mentioned that Scott was asking them to collect milkweed seedswhenpossible (with appropriate permissions). It was discussed what types of permissions are needed to collect seeds, the best way to bag a milkweed pod and Jeannie Brodhead stated that she will contact Scott to find out where he wanted the seeds deposited.