The Board of Trustees of the Farm & Wilderness and Ninevah Foundations met virtually on Saturday, August 21st for our quarterly meeting. It was a productive meeting, full of interesting topics for us to consider, support, and/or approve.

First up was Frances’ Q2 Executive Director’s report. This fell into five topic areas:

Enrollment – We achieved our goal of a safe, happy, and fun summer! Survey results so far indicate a high degree of satisfaction with our camps. Racial and ethnic diversity decreased at our residential camps but increased at the Barn Day Camp. The greatest driver of this was COVID: our partnership organizations (SEIU 1199, the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation, and the VT Migrant Worker Program) were unable to send us as many campers as they usually do. Increasing diversity (including socioeconomic diversity) is an F&W priority. Everyone who requested campership received an award, and we offered $300,000 in camperships this summer.

Marketing – we are redesigning the website! I cannot tell you how excited I, personally, am by this project. It will be cleaner, optimized for mobile devices, and have better integration with our other systems such as photos, the merchandise store, and social media. Stay tuned!

Early priorities for 2021-2022

  • Obviously, enrollment is Frances’ and her staff’s top priority.
  • Hiring seasonal staff is a close second in terms of priorities, and F&W will invest more money and expertise into developing new pipelines for staff to attract folks with the skills and mindsets we need and which reflect the diversity of our campers, and continue to improve our training, supports, and compensation for seasonal staff.
  • Strengthening our camp programs, such as better integrating the farm, where we have a new Director, and identifying new possibilities.

Chris Moncrief and his team (Andrea Breen, Tulio Browning, Bean Lambert, and Demian Yoon) presented an exciting and deeply researched plan to redesign Tamarack Farm’s program starting in 2022. The program will include immersions into one of four specific skill areas and young people can attain a certificate at the end of the session. The redesign process—planning and implementation–of the TF program is the responsibility of staff, under Frances’ leadership. The Board supports this project wholeheartedly.

Our I&E committee clerk provided an update on Echoes of Peace, our project to change the IB name and to memorialize and contextualize the contributions to our programs given us by Wakio (Flying Cloud) Rassen’nes Cook. Trustees will be asked to approve the new name at our January meeting. In the meantime, interviews with members of the Cook family have taken place and we have reached out to the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. Please hold them in the Light as they are being hit hard by COVID, once again.

Our final topic was our own Board governance and oversight. The Board approved an expansion of the purview of the Nominating Committee, which will now take on many additional tasks that have been handled by other committees or by individuals. We look forward to strengthening our Board by the addition of people with non-profit management expertise from outside of F&W/Ninevah.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. The Board’s next meeting will be in October and it is always fun: we get to hear from the camp directors! In the meantime, mask up and stay safe!

— Kristi Webb
Clerk of the Board

 

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