Hello Wildlifers, and Happy Spring!
We hope you enjoyed the February 2016 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Seaside, Oregon. ORTWS has been “marking our territory” in this state for 50 years, and looks forward to 50 more. Thanks to all 242 of you that attended and helped make it a great success!
The Program with Abstracts is now available for download here.
Here is the play-by-play!
We kicked off Wednesday morning with several associated meetings organized by various agency work groups. With deference and respect, the Past President’s luncheon was brought back by popular demand, and at least 25 past presidents joined us. Additional presidents may have sneaked in without announcing their esteemed history. We also honored ORTWS history with a panel discussion from our past presidents during the Plenary session. We hope you all enjoyed hearing some of the history, memories and evolution of our chapter.
The sessions began on Wednesday afternoon with a new format of “Reports from the Field”. This format encouraged presentations that included not only research, but reports from the field, effective collaborations, lessons learned, field briefings, field skills and techniques as well. We capped all presentations to 20 minutes (previous years were 30 minutes). This new format helped our chapter recruit a wider array of topics of expertise and hopefully promoted a better venue for the sharing of professional skills.
We held our ever popular Student Mentor session to bring students, young professionals, and experienced wildlifers together, and followed it up with the traditional Welcome Reception. This year our DJ came with a photo booth, and from the flashes it seemed popular. We hope everyone enjoyed and utilized this fun new feature. The sessions continued all day Thursday and we had some really great topics covered. Special thanks to The NW Section who sponsored an entire afternoon symposium, “Managing one Species to Benefit Another: Science, Ethics, and Policy”.
The Business Meeting sported the results of our elections with a new board taking hold of the gavel! Financials were discussed, and you can see assorted Treasurer reports here. The awards banquet featured a PowerPoint presentation of trivia that took a lot of effort by our President-elect Heather Bernier (and some others); judging from the feedback so far that effort was worth it! Our fundraising efforts through the silent auction and raffle raised nearly $1900 that will go towards our grants program, and thanks to the foresight of boards of years past, our investment returns enabled ORTWS able to award four scholarships! We were also honored to present all four of our special recognition awards and the two speaker awards.
On Friday we had several options for attendees which included a fantastic workshop: Communicating Environmental Topics and two field trips: Ecola Beach Clean-up and Salamander Scavenger Hunt – more on these events to come.
This meeting would not have been possible without the volunteer efforts of many individuals. Thank you to everyone who made this meeting a success!!!
– Autumn Larkins (VP) and Vanessa Blackstone (Treasurer)
Check out the minutes from our April 30 Business Meeting.
Dear ORTWS Members,
Big thanks to those of you who participated in our legislative liaison survey! The survey was sent to over300 members and 47 of you replied or roughly 15% of the membership. The first and second questions were the most decisive, asking if you thought a legislative liaison was of value to ORTWS and if you support the retention of a liaison. 89% of you valued the services, and there was overwhelming support in keeping a legislative liaison (80% in favor). As a result, the Board decided to renew the contract with Stephen Kafoury through 2015 with some revised reporting responsibilities and a budget contingency clause. To make up the 2015 budget shortfall, the Board will be sending a fundraising letter request to each of you soon.
Question 3 asked if you thought we should support the legislative liaison position at the current level, lower, or higher. 42 percent of respondents answered this question. Approximately 25% of you said to maintain the current level of funding, 9 percent said higher and 31 percent said lower. We are constrained by our budget and this year we were able to maintain similar service at a lower cost.
Question 4 addressed the current ORTWS budget and asked for suggestions for how our chapter can raise funds to support the legislative liaison position. 26 people answered this question. There were lots of great suggestions:
- Several folks indicated they would be willing to pay higher membership dues. We will consider raising dues in the future. We raised membership dues from 10 to 15 dollars recently and feel that increasing dues again so soon isn’t in the best interest of the membership at this time.
- Targeted fundraising for legislative position was also suggested. The board will be initiating a letter writing campaign specifically to help fund the legislative position. There is already a place to make donations to ORTWS on our website.
- It was pointed out the administrative costs should be kept to a minimum. We agree! The 2014 spending report for the board has been posted to our website. From this report, you can see that administrative costs are less than 7 percent of total chapter expenses.
- Funding for scholarships is through a special fund and though in the past scholarships have been paid out of the general fund, this is no longer the case.
- Several folks recommended finding lower cost options for that annual meeting. We agree! We work hard to negotiate contracts for the annual meeting that keep food and lodging costs low for our members. Lodging is always within government‐allowable per diem rates. We utilize government per diem guidelines to develop our food budget which helps us determine what to charge for registration. Keeping costs down is definitely important!
Question 5 asked if there are subjects the membership feels we, as a chapter, should be preparing white papers or positions statements for. About half of the people who responded to the survey answered this question.
Of the folks that answered there were lots of good ideas put forth for white papers and/or position statements. It was pointed out that this should be separate from the legislative liaison position and potentially handled through the conservation affairs committee. It was pointed out that these should be science‐based. We agree! Our current board and committee members are already working very hard for the chapter and we encourage those of you with interest in preparing white papers and position statements to get involved! See links in this letter for folks to contact. Ideas included:
- Bighorn sheep
- Klamath basin
- Wildlife policy as it relates to wolves and cougars
- Management of public lands
- Forestry and wildlife
- Urban wildlife connectivity and fragmentation
- ESA/CWA and state legislation
We also asked if you would like to be on the legislative or conservation affairs committees, and only 18% answered with a “Yes”. To those that answered yes, thank you, we’d love to have you! Please contact Todd Mabee or Leslie Bliss‐Ketchum to get involved! The Board does all it can, but we need your help to accomplish long‐lasting positive change for wildlife in Oregon.
The last question asked for general feedback and we received some great comments, suggestions and questions and the Board wanted to take the opportunity to address some of these.
- Several of you wanted to know more about what the legislative liaison provides for ORTWS, so we will have Stephen come speak to the membership at our 2015 meeting. This will be included in the Annual Meeting schedule and all members will be invited. Until then, recent reports are available on the ORTWS website.
- Some inquired about the use of the mutual fund. This mutual fund was set up to fund scholarships and until now had only been allowed to grow. For the past several years the ORTWS had been funding scholarships out of the general fund instead using the mutual fund. This year, we will be funding scholarships with some of interest earned in 2014. In 2015 we will be able to offer a total of $3,000 in scholarships and will also be reinvesting $2,600 back into the mutual fund! A summary of 2014 and 2015 financials are available on the website.
- Just to clarify, all Board positions are elected by the membership. This may be confusing because the ballots have you cast a vote for president‐elect and vice president‐elect. This is because these positions are two‐year term with first year being the president‐elect or vice‐president elect and the second year these positions move into president and the vice‐president positions, respectively. The only time positions, except President, are appointed by the Board is if they are vacated prior to their term being completed. Our elections follow our bylaws which are available on the website here.
- Some of you commented on the website. After much trial and tribulation, the Board has finally found a website that is reliable, functional, and user‐friendly. This is a work in progress so your comments are appreciated. We have added the mission statement to the home page, and it is also on our about us page. Also we have been adding policy letters and other documents as we find them. If you have specific documents that should be on the website please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We have been working hard on improving our membership outreach. A big part of this effort is to become more organized and efficient so we can focus on other parts of the chapter, like workshops. In the past two years, we developed a membership letter, a more interactive website, and implemented a reminder and renewal system for membership. In saying that, if you have an idea for a workshop, then let your Board know. We have lots of resources for advertising, handling registration, finding facilities etc. Just bring us your idea and potential speakers and we can help make it happen.
Lastly, many of you took the opportunity to give us Kudos for good work, recognized our commitment, and reiterated the importance to support legislation involvement. Thank you.
The 2014 – 2015 ORTWS Board
Click on the following link to see the most recent ORTWS Board Meeting Minutes:January 9th Board Meeting Minutes
2014 financial report
Chapter membership software and National data
Legislative liaison survey and contract
Lead workshops and policy
2016 annual meeting
Nominations for board elections – more members need to put their names in
2015 Annual Meeting Planning Meeting
If you are curious where ORTWS put its funds in 2014, the spending report is now available here: 2014 Spending Report. With very careful management of monies, we ended the year $2,064.79 in the black! Yay! The treasurer was a bit concerned for awhile, but we made it! The Board is constantly looking for ways to improve our budgeting and ensure we provide the most benefit to our members and remain in line with our mission.
Coming up in 2015 we do need some Member Assistance! To maintain all our current services and to provide more on-the-ground support (like grants!), we would like to get some fundraisers going. If you might be interested in organizing something or have an idea, please contact Vee Blackstone! Some ideas the Boards was tossing around include a “Run for the Wild” style 5k or 10k and developing some custom ORTWS merchandise. These projects need a leader to gain traction!