The year 2021 was the second year of our transformation to a state-level board with support of increased local chapters. We started the year with three chapters and finished it with eight, an incredible spurt of growth fueled by passionate local members and the Membership/Chapter Relations committee.
The State Board of Directors met recently for two days in November to develop a three-year strategic plan aimed at increasing education, strengthening our partnerships and our chapters, and creating some advocacy initiatives. We’ll be sharing more details of that in the months to come, including asking some of you to join us in the work.
As the year concludes, we provide a summary of where GNPS is now and some of what we look forward to next year. Our members continue to be our greatest asset; we thank you for your support in 2021 and hope that you will continue to be with us in 2022.
Chapters are key to our success and to our members’ growth. Chapters will lead local programs like regular meetings, workshops, Habitat Certification, plant rescue, site restoration, local propagation, and activities with local partners such as cities, counties, and like-minded groups.
- Members may currently affiliate with any of the following eight chapters: West Georgia; Coastal Plain; North Metro Atlanta; Intown Atlanta; North Georgia Mountains; Fringed Campion (Macon area); Augusta’s River Region; Athens-East Piedmont. A portion of your membership dues will be distributed to your affiliated chapter each year to support their local programs.
- The Redbud Project (Gainesville) decided to dissolve their chapter association with GNPS. If you are interested in helping us form a chapter in the Lake Lanier area or any new area, please email email@example.com.
We end the year with 1,466 memberships, a 27% increase over the beginning of 2021. Woo-hoo! Most of our members have chosen a chapter affiliation.
- We introduced a new online store this year to help members statewide have access to shirts and logo items. We envision this being our method of making the Plant of the Year shirts available going forward. We are happy with the quality of digital printing offered by this vendor, and anyone is able to custom order the style, color, and size of the shirt that they want. You can find the link to the store at the top of our website (look for the mini shopping cart).
- We’ve also recently added more content to our History page on the website. If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, including the history of the POY shirt, check it out.
- Stone Mountain Propagation Project (SMPP) has shifted focus to growing local ecotypes that are not readily available but deserve wider landscape use, as well as providing more plants for GNPS and other habitat restoration projects. In 2022, SMPP will grow 10,000 pollinator plant plugs for Georgia Audubon in support of a prairie restoration project at Panola Mountain State Park. The Coastal Plain Chapter also is stepping up propagation efforts both to support chapter plant sales and to grow species of concern for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
- Symposium: The 2021 Symposium was held virtually across two sessions on February 27 and 28 and the attendance was amazing: we were able to reach far more people than we ever have. GNPS partnered with Georgia Audubon for the event. For 2022, we will have the event on February 19 and 20, again in partnership with Georgia Audubon. The program will be titled: Healing our Habitat: At Home and In the Wild; six speakers will present five topics about how we can heal our native habitats in our own landscapes as well as in conservation efforts.
- Newsletters/Website Communications will remain at the state level for 2022, although local chapters may also have newsletters and individual websites.
- The scholarship program, began in 2020 to support the Native Plant Certificate program administered by the State Botanical Garden, awarded two funded annual scholarships in 2021. One was awarded to Piedmont resident Alexandra Kleinberg and one to Coastal Plain resident Kalyn Potts. These two young women, along with last year’s recipient, Julie Pope, have enrolled and are making progress toward their native plant certificates.
As of November 30, 2021, our total income was $43,147, with total expenses of $31,336. In 2021, membership and donations were our primary sources of income. Thank you for your support! Our reserves of just over $200K are safely invested in anticipation of future statewide growth and the support that our chapters may need.
Chapters received over $7,000 in support from dues rebates, funding for start-up costs, and plant sale net proceeds from donated plants.
The following new board members are joining in 2022: Karan Rawlins and James (Greg) Lewis. We wish to thank departing board member Kevin Burke for his service in 2021.
Thank you for being a member in 2021. We encourage you to get more active in your chapter; the old adage is still true: many hands make light work. In addition, fresh ideas and perspectives are essential to positive change while the experience of longtime members helps our new ones grow. We need you all.
Reach out to the board with any questions or to volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org.