Colorado Native Plant Society Board Meeting
April 25, 2020
Meeting via WebEx
Present: Amy, Ann, Anna, Chrissy, Denise, Deryn, Haley, Irene, Jim, Kathy, Kelly, Lenore,
Linda, Maggie, Mo, Pam, Tom

Board Meeting 4/25/2020, 10:00am – 2:00 pm

Irene called the meeting to order at 10:10 am

1. CONPS and the Coronavirus -20 mins How things have/are being handled, how things are moving forward Events through April and May have been canceled or postponed. Chapter meetings have been canceled or moved online. Field trips have been canceled until stay at home order has been lifted. On the 27th, we’ll be in limited contact with groups of 10 or less, but with 6’ of distancing and masks. Under those guidelines, we may be able to hold outdoor field trips. Lenore mentioned that it is difficult to lead a group or speak to a group at that distance and expressed caution. Ann remarked that in her experience in the Northern Chapter people tend to spread out. Deryn said Native Plant Masters are only allowing 5 people per trip for that reason. Every county is doing it a little differently.

Kathy said that in terms of workshops and field seminars they have to be very cautious with older attendees and the way people do tend to cluster together to look at one plant. Virtual options have been explored for workshops – different from more informal field trips run by the chapter. Lenore pointed out that we might have liability if the virus is transmitted during an official CoNPS event. This might be difficult to prove – the difference between legal and ethical liability. Irene suggested sending out a survey to the chapters to see how our members feel about this. Irene also mentioned that open space parks have never been busier – something to consider in terms of group size and carpooling. Tom brought up that the goals of field trips changes under these guidelines, and we should consider that we’re supposed to stick within 10 miles of home.
Irene suggested not scheduling any field trips through the end of May, encouraging people to interact online instead – sharing their own content and hashtagging CoNPS.

Denise shared her social media experience in last 3 weeks – not as easy, many of our members aren’t active on social media, and there’s no money for CoNPS in it. Denise suggested sending out a member-wide “how to” email to help members share content. Anna suggested a online meeting for the Facebook page admins; Deryn agreed. Denise will talk to Jen about unknown admins and organize a meeting for the Facebook page admins.

2. Plant Sale Update – 20 mins Denise/Ann
CoNPS has to make different agreements with each vendor. HPEC is successfully selling plants online, but still trying to figure out how to track sales to CoNPS members and give CoNPS a percentage. A plant sale through HPEC is iffy at this point. Harlequin’s hasn’t been offering gardening plants as of this point. Mikl has agreed to pay CoNPS 10% of the sales that come in through CoNPS. He’s paying the sales tax – this is a good deal for us. Denise is leaning toward simplifying as much as possible. Mo said that our cart system would automatically email the list of plants ordered to the vendor, so they can assemble the order before the customer picks them up. Irene recommended that we include “no refunds or exchanges”. Denise recommended “no substitutions”. Denise will send update email by the end of the week.

3. Member Survey Update – 10 mins Denise
Please see response executive summary. We received 302 responses out of 1075 members – 28% response rate. A majority of our members are older than 60 – like to receive information through e-news, Aquilegia, chapter emails. Western slope members still feel like there is too much emphasis on Front Range activities. Many members are in favor of 5% increase in dues – something we can discuss in the future. Thanks to Denise and Kathy for this survey – a lot of valuable information. We are serving our members well with a few tweaks to improve what we offer. We can definitely improve our service to Western Slope members through online programs. Maggie mentioned the Southeast chapter experience in engaging members – partnering with different organizations to expand reach.

Kathy recommended getting younger people involved in CoNPS activities, increasing our presence in schools. This could also be a potential revenue stream, and we could pay
instructors. Irene recommended that we involve the Education and Outreach committee. David was initially concerned about having the volunteer capacity as well as charging for programs. Kathy would like to explore different models for this. David is looking to recruit a new chair for that committee in the fall – we will pause on this until the fall.

4. Webinar/workshops update – 20 mins Kathy
Please see CoNPS Webinar Update. Main takeaways are that 6-hour online workshops (vs. in-person workshops) are too long, so we are now offering 2-3 hour webinars that are very valued by members. They offer a sense of normalcy, lifelong learning and escape. Plan to offer 2 webinars each in April and May offered mostly on Saturdays. We can reach members throughout the state, and we save costs. So far, both webinars in April were sold out with waiting lists. We have received complaints from people who were on waiting lists. We propose increasing participants to 40 instead of 35. Kathy proposed offering an afternoon webinar to accommodate people on waiting lists. Tom and Lenore said that Jennifer Ackerfield’s webinar was well-organized and informative. Deryn mentioned that increasing capacity per webinar can work, even over 100 participants, as long as you have a moderator to help run Q&A. Kathy also brought forward a proposal for a Special Speaker series – a presentation with well-known speakers, with a few minutes for questions at the end. This series also could offer cost savings for travel and lodging and could bring in substantial revenue for CoNPS. Kathy, Mo and Irene will meet to discuss logistics to make sure that programs are spaced out and that it fits into the existing budget. Denise would like to be included in this conversation. Maggie comments: Society for Ecological Restoration… good webinar model… Alexis (their coordinator told me that sometimes there are hundreds of people from all over the world. They just did a Wednesday Webinar series that was lovely in COVID times. It was an anchor all month for me. I think our members would unite over this… also, you could record webinars and sell the recording later so attendance doesn’t even have to be synchronous. If people have poor connectivity, the recording would download to be viewed offline. We can use Zoom for our next CoNPS meeting – Denise will initiate setting up the platform for the next meeting.

5. Garden Tours – 20 min Denise
In-person garden tours are scheduled for June 28th – we can make a decision on June 1st about restrictions necessary. 10 people only with masks and physical distancing. We are still working on virtual garden tours – footage hasn’t been that successful so far. Denise would like pre-recorded video, adding bumpers before and after footage with contact information of the garden owner. Video would also allow garden hosts to film gardens at different times. Denise does not want to put the virtual garden tour up on the website until she can be sure of the quality. Kelly also suggested that virtual garden tours could be run more like a webinar with still photos or slideshow. Denise liked that idea; she can incorporate photos into a PowerPoint beforehand.

6. OC member recruitment – 15 min Mo
David Julie resigned from the OC. Is there anyone on the board who would like to serve on the Operating Committee? We could take 1 or 2 new members. Irene will send out summary of OC responsibilities to the board contact list. The OC is responsible for making decisions/dealing with issues that a president would normally make, as well as supervising staff and payroll. You do not have to be a member of the board to serve on the OC.

7. Annual Conference Planning – 20 min

We don’t currently know what the situation with the pandemic will be in September, so we need to consider how we proceed for 2020. We have already paid for the American Mountaineering Center – cancellation policy is not addressed in contract. Denise will let us know about option to cancel. The caterer needs to be informed in writing 30 days ahead of time. Denise recommended planning for one track, shorter agenda better suited to webinar. Decision should be made sooner than August so that the conference can be promoted effectively. Irene mentioned that WA native plant society included both in-person and online options, addressing best and worst case scenarios. Summer Aquilegia goes out around the 1st of August – we would need our information by end of June. Planning committee and OC will meet to make decision on best way to move forward – Denise and Lenore will set up that meeting.

Kelly comments: Standard deadline for summer Aquilegia issue is June 15. I am willing to extend that deadline within reason. I think we should have a decision about the conference venue before publishing the information.

* Structure for planning annual conference 2-3 years out – Steve Olsen said that he was interested in holding the 2021 conference in La Junta. Maggie will talk with Steve about that possibility.
* 2020 board election during annual conference

8. Financial Update – 20 min –  Mo
We are currently breaking even, including paying our staff. Membership revenue is as good as it’s ever been, we are selling books and offering webinars. The whole ballgame is figuring out what we want to do moving forward.

9. CONPS iNaturalist Project – Denise/Maggie Gaddis- 10 mins

City Nature Challenge is this weekend through tomorrow – cataloging species around the world. Maggie is currently trying to get her chapter involved in the bioblitzes run by the city – this is something CoNPS can take the lead on. We don’t currently have any CoNPS-labeled project on iNaturalist – our expertise would improve plant identifications on the app. Maggie is recruiting other CoNPS chapters to apply for a Mission grant to share native plant propagation throughout the state. Irene mentioned that creating an iNaturalist project, as opposed to contributing single observations, is that we can set limits and boundaries, as well as obscure locations for rare plants as needed. Chrissy recommended that board members could begin populating a project with data this weekend through the City Nature Challenge. Maggie will add iNaturalist how-to resources into the agenda document.

Ann mentioned that CoNPS is also involved in the Colorado Budburst project that tracks phenology in gardens, parks, open spaces and natural areas. She recommended that we should promote only these two projects to members. Budburst takes a bit more work from participants. Ann is currently thinking of ways to engage users and members – Ann will talk with Kathy about offering a phenology workshop. The owner of Western Native Seed has offered wholesale rate of 50% on seeds for CoNPS members. Carrie Cimo in Boulder County is also looking to get volunteers involved in BudBurst in Boulder County.

Chrissy Alba’s iNaturalist ID: calba
Maggie Gaddis: ecocitycoloradosprings
Amy Yarger: amyyarger
Maggie’s YouTube (sciteachermg) Citizen Science playlist including iNat how-to videos:

Chrissy said that she is looking for 2 more people to help with Mission grant committee. Amy volunteered via email.

10. Merging Marr and Steinkamp grants – Mo

11. Update from Jen Bousselot – Denise
Book sales: $1500 worth of books shipped out before mid-March. She has one major large customer who will be opening up again. She may also help Denise with setting up the plant sales.

Giving Tuesday on May 5th organized specifically for coronavirus. Denise will be sending out a letter to membership about this opportunity.

12. Questions
1. Summer field trips? We will continue with webinars for the time being.
2. Possible “special speakers”: Kathy is looking for ideas. Maggie suggested Grain Pool.
3. Lenore asked if each chapter was using their own platforms for online meeting. Denise said meeting hosts can’t share licenses, so chapters should use the platform they prefer, and CoNPS will reimburse the chapters. Pam Sherman is a great resource. Reminder to all committee chairs: Please send in a committee summary to Aquilegia if you have not already done so.

Our next meeting is August 22, 2020.