Opening NightFriday was an informal social gathering in the evening by the entrance lobby. I did, as usual, hobnob with some other local chapter members. In particular, I had a long conversation with Ina Crawford of Sweetbay Chapter. It was as though the heavens were listening to my prayer as I was hoping for a very long time to connect with chapter member on the far west coast of Florida where things (including the weather) are a bit different from the rest of us in the peninsular area. Ina mentioned that her chapter is but 35 members strong but they still have monthly presentations and field trips. When asked if it was difficult for her to gather
|Ian Crawford, an observant, enthusiastic, |
and cheerful teacher
|A Great Idea|
Simple and to the Point
The Brochure is Alive & Well, Thank youSaturday was packed with presentations- including Richard Brownscombe of Broward County’s Coontie Chapter. Donna Bollenbach of Suncoast Chapter, Richard, the Chapter of Council Landscape 101 Committee, and many others, worked together to create a beautiful folded brochure on native landscaping. The first of six versions is for the West Coast Region (Pasco through Collier counties). This has been
|Richard Brownscombe presents the "nearly" final version of the |
native landscape brochure for the West Coast region
Craig Huegel has written an introduction in the brochure and there will be tips for native plant landscaping. There will be on-line references, such as our the FNPS website, that will motivate interested readers to further resources.
These brochures will cost FNPS about $0.30 each to print. Richard has recommended that the chapters sell the final product at $1 per brochure to pay for future printing. Andy Taylor (FNPS Director of Development) and Richard will seek out $20K in funding to do 60,000 copies statewide.
Data for Dollars
|Juliet Rynear is a lady |
on a fact-finding mission.
- FNPS Chapters were involved with 16 pieces of native plant local legislation that were ratified on the county level, with 15 others that are still outstanding.
- There were 91 outreach events with 2400 people attending, 33 education workshops, and 16 school-related activities (Pine Lilly chapter was mentioned as being most heavily invested in school programs).
Membership MattersJonnie Spitler from Nature Coast Chapter presented some additional data put together by Cammie Donaldson’s (FNPS Administration) team. In 2014-2015, the Villages Chapter got 113 members, however FNPS as a whole only gained 56 memberships in total.
Jonnie emphasized enthusiasm,
|Jonnie Spitler-an embodiment |
of the go-getter spirit.
Jonnie also emphasized in her presentation how important it is to have a fun meeting by engaging with people and encouraging happiness. She mentioned that even though FNPS can be science-driven, we should not forget the fun element in a meeting because that’s what will gain the most memberships from “common folks.”
In the future, Jonnie will be in closer communication with other chapters on membership. She will be giving away prizes for the chapters that have risen most in percentage or numbers. She will keep pushing and focusing on membership at the chapter level, and if the chapter does not have a membership point of contact, she will start reaching out to each chapter president.
|Andy Taylor and his undying passion |
for the political theater
Andy Taylor, FNPS Director of Development, did a presentation on elected officials and policy. He mentioned Google Alerts which can be found at google.com/alerts. Basically, you search for any name of your local or state elected official, or a subject, and google alerts will email you current news and articles about that subject. For members who are leery of clogging their email inboxes with multiple google alerts, they can set it up once a day (such as at the end of the day when things have quieted down) in a single lump sum notification.
Andy also gave the following tips when dealing with local and state officials:
- Let officials know that you support them (or vice versa) and that you would be happy to provide them more information on native plants. Invite them to an FNPS meeting to a chapter field trip.
- Keep the initial emails to politicians short (4 paragraphs or less) and establish yourself as an independent expert in this email, and offer resources for them to research our organization.
- Additionally, Andy noted that almost everything in an email to your policy maker in Florida is classified as a public record and therefore is traceable. He recommends to be careful in your word choice and the content of your email if you support or oppose policies- never bribe elected officials with votes or other favors. This may give developers reason to sue the city or county for a legal challenge in court which is counterproductive to our efforts.
- When policies are approved or rejected, state and local governments have notification requirements for these decisions to the general public. For more information, you can visit MyFloridaHouse.gov or FLSenate.gov. You can sign up to get email alerts when anything happens on a specific bill.
- If your chapter finds it hard to organize a group during working hours to visit government office, consider inviting the County or City Attorney to your chapter board meeting to present on the progress of a bill.
- Many chapters want to influence ordinances to include more natives. But as far as ordinances are concerned, Andy said that unless you have a specific expertise in writing them, it is best not to write your own. County and City attorneys are paid lots of money and no matter what you do, they will have to review for the ordinance for compliance with state law, and revise your work for proper format and preferences.
Parting Words of Wisdom
Posted by Donna Bollenbach