President Tony Dolle called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m.
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, Utah
July 8, 2011
President Tony Dolle called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m.
Secretary Katie McKalip called the roll. Present were Dolle, Mike Walker, Mark Taylor, Bill Graham, McKalip, Lisa Densmore, Bill Hilts Jr., Mary Nickum, Jason Jenkins, Matt Miller, Ty Stockton, Mark Freeman, Brett Prettyman, Paul Queneau, Bruce Cochran, Randy Zellers, Bill Powell and Robin Giner. Kris Thoemke joined the meeting via conference call. Also in attendance were Ashley Schroeder, Paul Hansen and Peter Schroeder.
Moved (Stockton/seconded Hilts) to approve the January board meeting minutes. Motion carried.
Dolle referred to his president’s report and thanked the board members for their service to the organization. He expressed concern at membership numbers and stressed the necessity of continuing to address this issue.
Giner presented her executive director’s report. She briefly reviewed the financial particulars relating to the sale of the headquarters condo and the move to the new office in May. Member numbers continue to pose a challenge, with recruitment mailings planned for the near-term future.
Giner mentioned that sponsorship prospects are good. Safari Club International increased its support of the Norm Strung Youth Writing Contest to $3,000.
Brief discussion of other sponsor/support opportunities occurred.
Freeman asked about interest by advertisers. Giner referred to a list of supporters who have advertised to OWAA members included in the board packet. She solicited board input regarding where she might circulate the advertising opportunities packet.
Giner stated that headquarters’ PR efforts have been increased, with an average of four press releases being sent per month.
Finance — Thoemke initiated the discussion. Despite the headquarters condo sale and Giner’s cutting expenses whenever possible, finances remain problematic. Further cuts must be made in the short term to address these deficiencies (approximately $30,000). No cash reserve is currently available to bridge the forthcoming shortages.
Thoemke stressed the need for board members to step up and help address and resolve some of these problems. He underscored the need for both short- and long-term solutions.
Dolle referenced the ongoing discussions he’s had with Giner and Thoemke — and acknowledged the need to increase revenue through increased member numbers. Member services cannot be cut further, and additional budget cuts could necessitate staff reductions.
Giner said a 2012 EIC coordinator will not be hired, resulting in a savings of approximately $6,000. The elimination of a winter board meeting would save approximately $7,000.
Densmore asked for a summary of ideas made during the executive committee meeting so that the same ground is not covered twice. McKalip reviewed her meeting notes from the previous evening.
Dolle suggested setting some priorities for Giner to implement and giving her a deadline.
Nickum suggested bimonthly publishing of OU. McKalip seconded the notion, suggesting that a larger, feature-driven edition be published only every other month and a stripped down version be published in the off months. Discussion continued about eliminating the print edition of OU (member criticism is anticipated if this occurs) and posting more content online. Freeman emphasized that two connections members have with OWAA consist of the EIC contests and OU.
Powell referred to comments made at the last membership meeting regarding the print OU. He cited feedback bemoaning the loss of this forum for debate among members and for sharing ideas. He feels that the current content of OU is lacking this element.
Taylor does not favor decreasing the frequency or amount of content in the print OU. He wondered how many members read the electronic OU and whether staff resources spent producing it could be better allocated elsewhere. He mentioned reducing staff salaries or introducing furlough days as a viable means of cutting costs. He is wary of cutting member benefits and feels that would result in further member losses.
Prettyman returned to the issue of the print vs. electronic OU. He stressed the need to pay attention to digital offerings, acknowledging that while many older members prefer the print versions, younger and incoming communicators favor electronic materials. Discussion continued about ways to reduce costs associated with production of OU.
Miller said cuts to programs should not be made without consulting the membership, to avoid deepening this divide. Taylor agreed that the membership should be involved in the financial discussions post haste. General agreement on this point was expressed.
Densmore asserted that member-driven services are the most important thing that OWAA does. She listed the following proposed cuts:
Contests coordinator, $5,800; winter board meeting, $7,000; reduction in legal expenses, $2,500; OU publication costs, $2,800.
Implementing these cuts, she said, would result in a more manageable deficit (approximately $12,000) to address. She advised following up with supporters who have not yet reinstated. Prettyman seconded this approach and volunteered to help. So did McKalip.
Queneau suggested elimination of intern stipends and pursuing work-study options. Hilts suggested transitioning the Directory into an online resource to save approximately $8,000. (Giner replied that elimination of the print directory could not occur until 2012, as the 2011 directory already has been printed, but that low cost options are available to pursue this course in the future.) Giner stated that instituting a cut in staff salaries would save
Densmore and McKalip stressed that cost-cutting measures — particularly salary cuts — should be prioritized in order of importance and that, if salary reductions take place, staff should be informed that these cuts are temporary in nature and will be restored as soon as possible.
Dolle called a brief recess at 10:35 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 10:53 a.m.
Walker summarized the committee’s work. Giner said about 15 percent of members voted, which is typical. The possibility of transitioning to electronic voting was discussed; doing so would not necessarily entail a bylaws change.
Taylor said everything is in place for the 2011 conference program. The planning process had been revamped to involve section chairs and others and he concluded that this approach was successful to a degree. Taylor cited the efforts and support of Prettyman and Jessica Pollett in executing a strong program. Powell asked about the room-night guarantee; Giner said OWAA will be not liable for attrition costs.
Freeman suggested that the process of appointing the Contests Committee chair and chief judges be initiated at conference. He stressed the need for improved communications between judges, headquarters staff and the committee chair. Miller suggested designating co-chairs for this committee in the future. Freeman mentioned that some members complained about the PDF format required for entries. Taylor and McKalip commented favorably on the new electronic format for judges’ entries. The pros and cons of allowing the committee chair to enter contests were discussed (the chair is not currently barred from doing so).
Dolle related Committee Chair Peter Schroeder’s activities and priorities in chairing this committee. His efforts should assist in Giner’s grant-writing efforts.
Jenkins thanked Miller for his active involvement. Miller, who drafted a strategic plan for consideration by the committee, cited the need for involvement in the process by the entire board and the necessity of having a consultant lead the process, a problematic issue given OWAA’s current financial situation. He proposed looking at the “real” future of OWAA, assessing what we can achieve, considering tangible efforts that OWAA can undertake that offer high probability of success to avoid treading the same ground repeatedly. He emphasized the need for a structured process that establishes the goals of OWAA and enables the board to reach agreement regarding what those goals are and how to achieve them.
Dolle asked for their input regarding next steps. Jenkins agreed with Miller’s comment that a consultant needs to lead this process. Discussion ensued regarding the function of a strategic plan and the need to establish priorities. Taylor and McKalip asked headquarters staff to research options for leadership and facilitation of this process. The possibility of adopting the existing draft plan was discussed but rejected. McKalip suggested holding a committee meeting at headquarters and drawing on members living locally and regionally to reduce costs.
Dolle adjourned the meeting at noon for lunch. The meeting reconvened at 1:11 p.m.
AD HOC COMMITTEES
Blogger/Internet Category Working Group
OWAA Criteria Review: Miller specified two issues for discussion: (1) the revision of some of the categories for membership, including adding a category for bloggers and online journalists who are paid for their work, and (2) the revision of standards for the “lecturer” and “book” membership categories. Powell clarified that the process for amending the criteria for membership has been modified a few times during the past several years. The board currently has the ability to make changes in membership criteria and, if approved by a two-thirds board majority, such changes are effective immediately, unless overruled by a membership vote.
Moved (Thoemke/seconded Taylor) to approve and accept the changes proposed by the committee regarding the website content director, lecturer, book author and blogger/vlogger/online journalists membership criteria. Motion carried unanimously.
Miller acknowledged the existence of strong feelings regarding payment for work and raised the question of whether current standards are appropriate. Peter Schroeder commented that this issue has been rearing its head in many journalist organizations with which he’s involved.
Discussion continued. Schroeder offered the following criteria, which were discussed at length by the board, for consideration:
1. One-year minimum of creating content, which must allow individual response.
2. Periodic updates throughout the year (one per month) and/or the season (one per month).
3. Minimum 500 unique views per month.
4. Content must be “editorial” not “advertorial.”
Taylor proposed that a set of criteria based on this discussion be developed during conference and presented at both the general membership meeting and the July 11 board meeting for consideration and a board vote.
EIC Rules Revision
Committee Chair Graham summarized member complaints about the initial revision of the EIC contest rules and the factors that led the committee to recommend changes to the 2011 contests’ structure and rules. He presented three options: (1) to accept the new changes from the committee; (2) to institute further changes to the contest; or (3) to reject the changes.
Taylor and Freeman advocated in favor of retaining the newspaper page and section contest. Ashley Schroeder responded that insufficient entries have resulted in this contest being cancelled in the past and that, if the contest is retained, effort must be made to ensure adequate submissions.
Graham reminded the board that the initial goal of the revision was to streamline, not expand, the categories and contests.
Giner suggested that the proposed revision be presented to the membership at the general membership meeting, solicit comments and then revise accordingly at the July 11 board meeting, at which time the board would vote to approve, alter or reject. The board agreed to this course of action.
Dolle urged board members who have not contacted lapsed members/supporters to make the necessary calls to remind these individuals and entities to reengage in OWAA.
Goldenrod Writing Workshop
Giner said the 2011 Goldenrod workshop was cancelled due to inadequate participants. Suggestions were made regarding ways to increase interest and attendance, including changing the name of the event to the “Goldenrod Media Workshop” to broaden its appeal.
OWAA Student Chapters
Jenkins reported that the University of Missouri chapter has been officially established and that representatives from the new group are attending conference this year. McKalip suggested that a short list of schools be developed where student chapters could potentially be established and that the Missouri chapter be charged with formulating a set of guidelines for formation and governance of these chapters.
NEW BUSINESS OU
Print vs. Online:Giner stated that earlier consensus by the board indicated interest in proceeding with a 32-page black-and-white format for the quarterly version.
Quorum Requirements for Membership Meetings
Currently a quorum of 50 members must be achieved for a legal membership meeting to occur. Given lower-than average conference attendance and limited space at the 2012 conference, Dolle proposed asking the membership to vote on bylaws changes that would lower the quorum requirement to 25. The board agreed on this course of action.
Approve New Endowment Trustees
Lonnie Williamson’s term is expiring, and he will not be reappointed. Dolle presented background and biographical information about Bill Vanderford. Dolle nominated Vanderford as endowment trustee. Board voted in favor of the nomination.
Endowment Trust Report
Thoemke presented his report and summarized its highlights.
Taylor addressed the need to compile conference-related articles to share with sponsors, thereby demonstrating the value of their continued support of the event. Taylor had talked with Ron Bice, communications director for Wildlife Research Center Inc., about creation of a “digital clearinghouse” where writers can deposit their articles for compilation and presentation to conference supporters. The value of these materials was discussed.
Nickum and Hansen offered information on their backgrounds and qualifications. The candidates left the meeting room, and board members briefly discussed the candidates.
Dolle called a brief recess at 3:15 p.m. The meeting reconvened at 3:28 p.m.
Hansen was elected treasurer by the board.
Powell outlined certain resolutions requiring the treasurer’s involvement and signed approval.
Moved (Graham/seconded Nickum) to approve the two resolutions.
Proposed Bylaws Amendment – Endowment Trustees
Glenn Sapir proposed a change to the bylaws that would make current directors and officers (with the exception of the treasurer) ineligible to serve as trustees.
Powell offered some background on the establishment of the trustees and their purpose. Sapir’s proposal, in Powell’s view, is designed to preserve the level of independence originally envisioned when the trustees were established.
Moved (McKalip/seconded Freeman) to amend the bylaws as proposed by Sapir. Motion failed.
Copyright/Trademark Usage of Outdoors Unlimited
Powell related that headquarters received a request by a member to use the name “Outdoors Unlimited” as the title of a radio show. Powell offered an analysis of the ramifications of allowing this usage. Discussion followed.
Moved (Freeman/seconded Densmore) to deny the member’s request to use the “Outdoors Unlimited” trademark. Motion passed.
OWAA’s Stance on Fee for Use
Powell presented an analysis done by his associate, Mandy Miller, regarding commercial filming on federal lands. He stressed the importance of understanding what the law requires and the impetus behind the law’s passage. Concerns raised by Dave Carlson were discussed. Lengthy discussion followed; many board members offered their experiences and views.
The board encourages Carlson to pursue this issue with the OWAA membership through OU and other avenues but declined to take a formal stance on this issue at the present time.
Comped Registration for Members Speaking at Conference
Densmore and Taylor opened discussion. Freeman suggested offering comped registration but asking them to pay for their meals to avoid OWAA losing money.
Taylor suggested revisiting the topic with a goal of having a set policy in place before next summer’s conference, to be implemented at the discretion of the current conference chair.
Minority Member Recruitment
Graham has noticed over the years that OWAA’s membership lacks diversity. His current job with the Missouri Department of Conservation involves outreach to minorities and encouraging their involvement in the outdoors. He proposed convening an ad hoc committee to examine the issue and determine whether any action should be taken. He reported that Nickum and Densmore have agreed to serve on this committee and invited additional committee members to participate.
Letter of Support – National Museum for the History of the Forest Service
Graham offered background on the issue and how it came to his attention. He related how at the previous night’s executive committee meeting, concerns were raised about offering OWAA’s support for various undertakings and the possible conflicts that could result. Consequently, Graham withdrew his request and instead will submit a letter to the editor for publication in OU regarding the issue.
GOOD OF THE ORDER
Giner expressed her thanks to the board for the morning’s productive finance discussion. Taylor expressed his appreciation for Dolle’s service to the board as president. Board members loudly seconded. Stockton mentioned the difficulty of selecting a candidate as Outstanding Board Member and that this reflects positively on the caliber of the current board.
Adjournment: Moved (Jenkins/second Hilts) to adjourn. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 4:38 p.m.