February 2014 Board Retreat

Haven't been to the Circle B? You're missing out on
some fabulous birding and tons of trails for hiking!
The 5 Ws, More or Less
On February 8th and 9th, 2014 your F.N.P.S. Board of Directors (a.k.a. "Fearless Leaders") congregated in Lakeland, Florida for a weekend of meetings, which were held at the Circle B Bar Reserve. The first day began with the usual: approval of minutes from the previous meeting and reports from the Executive Committee. We quickly navigated through the morning's business like a motorcyclist in a traffic jam. After a short break for lunch, we reconvened to tackle voting on Bylaw revisions and take part in a goal-focused workshop derived, to some degree, from the Strategic Plan that the Bristol Strategy Group submitted some time after our last retreat in November.

SurveyMonkey is a web-based service used
by a multitude of industries to ask questions
of a target audience and compile responses
in real time.
Bylaw Changes - Voting
Cindy Liberton took on the super-fun task of writing up potential changes to the FNPS Bylaws, bless her heart. Prior to a discussion of the content of those changes, we proceeded to come up with a schedule and plan for voting on them. When all was said and done, it was determined that the Board of Directors would/should be able to review and comment on the proposed revisions through the FNPS forum until February 26th, and would cast their votes (yay/nay/abstention) sometime between February 27th and March 6th. This would be an all or nothing kind of vote (i.e. the revisions will be voted on as a package). If the revisions pass, the general membership will be informed of them via the Sabal Minor by about March 7th (this could be a bit later for those who receive the Sabal Minor via snail mail). An additional email with advisory info about the vote will be sent out a handful of days later, just in case any members did not see the writeup in the Sabal Minor. Three weeks after the Sabal Minor announcement about bylaw voting, mail-in ballots will be sent to members without email addresses; everyone else will receive an email with a link to the SurveyMonkey voting site, on which voting will commence April 12th and conclude at midnight on April 19th. Mail-in ballots, postmarked no later than April 19th, will be tallied by representatives of the Council of Chapters by April 25th, the results of which will be shared first with the Board of Directors, then with the general membership.

Bristol for Dummies
To rewind for a minute, there were these consultants (the "Bristol Strategy Group") we paid to come boss us around for two weekends and ask a whole bunch of questions, then write a report about it that was somewhat difficult to interpret. Fortunately, several members of the Board, including Jan Allyn, Scott Davis, and Shirley Denton (apologies if I omitted anyone), took the liberty of interpreting the Bristol directives and using them, along with their knowledge of FNPS, to determine which five aspirational goals the organization needed the most help with, namely Landuse Planning, Field Trips/Active Programs, Educational Programs for Landscaping, Habitat Restoration, and Native Plant Advocacy. Scott presented an executive summary of all of that, then Jan took the helm, and divided the Board into five groups, one for each goal. The groups discussed the goals they were assigned and developed workplans and a list of resources needed to accomplish those goals, whereafter they suckered one person into presenting their group's findings to the rest of the Board (see images at left). Five presentations later, all of the Board members were allotted three votes, which they could place on either three different goal/group ideas or two on one and one on another. Jan secured the votes with scotch tape and, to the best of my memory, the meeting was adjourned for the day. Yippee!

Later that Evening
Most of us met for dinner at Harry's in downtown Lakeland, but a few of the cold-sensitive south Floridians could not handle the slight nip in the air on the outside patio where we were seated. I will not name these individuals, but will simply refer to them as "the wimpy bunch." So the wimpy bunch bailed and hit up an indoor barbecue joint catty-corner to Harry's. We all got home relatively late, and with "homework" - to read and review the proposed Bylaw changes so that we could have an intelligent conversation about them the following day, when they were scheduled to be formally presented.

Sunday Funday
Julie Becker
Bright and early the next day, the Council of Chapters (Chapter Reps) met back at the ol' Circle B. Julie Becker kept a tight grip on the reins and divided everyone into groups once more; this time, each group was tasked with working out Council specifics. While one group developed a schedule of meetings, including how/where they would take place (via webinar, conference call, live, etc), others were focused on topics like the criteria that Regional Representatives of the Council should meet, Standard Operating Procedures, the role of committees within the Council, and how the council would communicate with the general membership. This was all very productive, and a great way to achieve consensus about what might otherwise be construed as nit-picky details. 

When the Council meeting was over, the remainder of the Board of Directors filed in and Cindy Liberton took the floor. She went through the Bylaw changes and fielded comments and suggestions like a pro. Naturally, FNPS Board members are very shy and not even remotely opinionated, so hardly anyone had any input. HAHA. Despite the comments from the peanut gallery, the meeting was civil and effective for hammering out potential Bylaw kinks. 

As soon as the whistle blew, I slipped down my dinosaur, out of the gravel pit, and into the Reserve that had been calling my name since the previous morning. It gave me the boost I needed to drive for hours through cow pastures, yard sales and/or surrounded by aggressive, unlicensed drivers. And I do it all for you - and pay for my own gas to do it! Almost all of us do. So the next time you see a Board Member, give him or her a hug. We are all working hard to keep FNPS great, one meeting at a time. 

Respectfully submitted by Laurie Sheldon


Hobo Botanist said…
Thank You Laurie, a very nice report to the membership.
For members who wish to view the ongoing process of bylaw revisions, please feel free to visit: http://www.forum.fnps.org/index.php/topic,895.0.html
The Jolly Bloggers said…
Gladly, Steve! Thanks for sharing that link.

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