2020 NTMN Planning Retreat – Goals
On a chilly January 11th morning (remember those brief snow flurries?) 25 NTMN committee chairs, directors, and board members met for a half-day retreat to take stock of the North Texas chapter. We discussed where we are making progress,where we have room for improvement, and how our work compares to the mission to develop a body of “well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas.”
From almost every metric, our chapter is meeting the overall goals of the Texas Master Naturalist program. NTMN has a vibrant membership, with strong skill sets and a high level of engagement. Evidence of the chapter’s success is evidenced in these key observations:
- in 2019 members provided 28,465 hours of volunteer service and received 3909 hours of advanced training
- NTMN is involved in 62 area projects
- over 400 volunteer opportunities and over 800 training opportunities were available to members last year
- the chapter is fiscally sound and consistently does well with its annual audits
- NTMN enjoys strong partnerships with numerous local, regional, and state organizations
- the chapter hosted a very successful TMN Annual Meeting, operating the silent auction and providing a wide range of field trips
- the chapter hosted a sold-out Urban Wildlife workshop with very positive reviews
- Including our new 2020 class, we have 375 active members.
These are very worthwhile achievements and it’s good to take some time for grateful reflection on what this chapter has accomplished.
Considering the progress the chapter has made on previous years’ goals, retreat participants settled on four areas of focus. Working with the board, specific action plans are being developed for each of these. We recognize that some are broad (enormous!) in scope and will require multi-year planning and ongoing effort. Retreat participants understood that many of these are administrative tasks and that most folks join on with NTMN to be out in the field, doing that core education, outreach and conservation work. Keeping that in mind, we were deliberate about what new initiatives we can realistically undertake and acknowledged the genuine challenges the chapter faces.
The four priorities identified for 2020, along with some of the anticipated approaches:
- Improving Outreach Efforts, especially through refining educational materials and use of speakers
- Developing trunk materials, themes, talking points and instruction
- Increasing requests for NTMN Speakers by publicizing availability and developing speaker training
- Partnering with corporations/other entities, e.g. on days of service, joint Master Gardener events
- Enhancing Member Engagement within the chapter
- Conducting a chapter interest inventory
- Implement smaller affinity groups to spur engagement with like-minded Master Naturalists, e.g. birders, native plants, insects
- Consider neighborhood focus for specific area projects
- Increasing Chapter Diversity through better partnerships with local organizations and outreach
- Develop a community involvement plan for outreach and education in underserved areas, identifying community needs and areas we can help
- Build relationships with existing organizations
- Consider board-level position dedicated to diversity efforts
- Improving Budgeting and Financial Processes to clarify processes and plan for funding opportunities
- Develop processes to improve spending approvals, to manage surplus funds, possibly including a large-scale project, and to communicate processes to leadership and membership
- Consider board-level finance director position, to focus on planning, raising income, managing expenses, and securing grants.
Our intent is to develop a method to measure our progress in each of these areas at the end of the year. All while keeping the many other NTMN initiatives moving forward, as this volunteer organization does so well.