In case you missed it, the FNPS Board Meeting and Council of Chapters Meeting was on August 13 at the FFS Leadership Training Center in Haines City. If you want to know more about what the Society is doing on the state level to support chapters and further our mission, or if you want to make a meaningful contribution to the society, please consider attending one of the quarterly retreats. Here are some of the
highlights of what we discussed and accomplished. To read the complete summary, along with additional topics, click here.
Submitted by Donna Bollenbach
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.
You spoke, we listened: The New FNPS Conference Protocol:
|Photo by Vince Lamb|
The new conference protocol was revealed by the Conference Committee. Based on the input of FNPS members, FNPS conferences will be handled by a state committee and regional chapters, rather than individual chapter. Basically, one chapter will no longer be responsible for hosting the conference, but a state conference committee will take care of finding the venue, negotiating contracts (lodging, food, socials) and final scheduling. Since conferences will be planned by regions instead of individual chapters, several chapters in the region will be asked to take on one or two other tasks, such as registration, social activities, exhibit area, silent auction and program assistance. Chapters in and around the region may host field trips.
Landscaping or Education: Make a difference and have fun doing it!
The next big topic of discussion was a need for a chair and members for the FNPS Landscape Committee and Education Committee. In my opinion these committees are not only two of the most important to the mission of FNPS, but probably the most creative and fun. Many ideas for projects that these committees could develop on the state level, then introduce to the chapters for distribution were discussed, such as:
- Creating a “Good Neighbor” program to educate people who live adjacent to state parks and preserves so they are made aware of the problems with planting or disposing of invasive plants in or around a natural public land.
- Pick a native plant of the year and work all year to “inject” it into mainstream landscaping (in other words, create a demand and a market for it.)
- Create a native plant “starter pack” with plants, care instructions and other materials and to make it easy for people to pick and a purchase a set of plants for a “butterfly garden,” a “coastal area” or a “the edge of a pond.”
- Work with local garden centers to create a once-a-month native plant sale/event.
So, if you are interested in being a chair of either of these committees, please contact Juliet Rynear or Catherine Bowman today.
What do Craft Beers and Native Plants have in Common?
Richard Brownscombe mentioned that we should marketing native plants as the “craft beers” of landscaping. “Craft beers,” he stated, “have taken a big share of the beer market and have traditional beer retailers and distributors jumping on the bandwagon.” Craft beers did not do this by trying to be the same, but they achieved this status by being different, independent and innovative. They take the traditional beer ingredients and add down-to-earth flavors, such as pumpkin, spice, cocoa, fruit and nuts. They transformed beer from merely a happy hour drink to a social experience. People seem to feel better about themselves when they choose a craft beer from an independent brewery vs a mass produced product. We want to make them feel the same way about native plants. We want to people to feel good about buying natives from our independent native nurseries. One day, we want to be able to say: “Native plants have taken a big share of the landscaping market and have traditional distributors and retailers jumping on the bandwagon.”
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.
Membership…the road to 4000 members...
|The other side has a detachable membership card. |
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. We should be pushing for more sustaining memberships. Sustaining members are those the that give $10.00 a month through an automatic payment. Are you a sustaining member?
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.