CoNPS Board Meeting
Saturday, July 31, 2021
10 am – 1 pm (Zoom)

Present: Amy Yarger, Ann Grant, Anna Wilson, Audrey Spencer, Chrissy Alba, Denise Wilson, Deryn Davidson, Jim Pisarowicz, Kathy Okon, Kelly Ambler, Linda Smith, Lynn Riedel, Mo Ewing, Rahman Minhas, Tom Zeiner

Deryn called the meeting to order at 10:02 am.

1. Approval of April minutes (Amy, 5 min)
Chrissy moved to approve, Deryn seconded. Minutes approved.

2. Approval of 2020 Tax return (Denise, 10 min) Please see 990 tax return
The non-profit tax return required to be filed for CoNPS is the 990 Form. The Board is required to approve the tax return before I can e-file it.

The IRS requests lists of income and expenses which do not exactly match our Profit & Loss Statement (which has evolved over time to meet the needs and understanding of the Board); it requires a re-grouping of some expenses. So, the tax return has some supporting documents attached to the end, which help to catalog lists of items that the 990 form requires. The IRS is looking to make sure that this non-profit follows the regulations of a 501(c)(3), and refrains from several activities, such as lobbying, over-compensating key Directors and employees, and not having more than 33.33% of its income come from investments. Also, we are required to follow specific rules, such as having 66.67% of our income from programs directly related to our Mission (IRS calls this Program Service Income & Expenses), public financial transparency, and disclosing potential conflicts of interest.

My potential conflict of interest is that I am a CoNPS permanent part-time employee, but I also prepare the non-profit tax return under my own Sub-S corporation, Wilson Associates Inc, and am paid separately for that. My first degree and career was accounting & tax work, and I have been preparing tax returns for 43 years. I have done the CoNPS taxes for 8-9 years now, and this is the second non-profit that I have done taxes for. Another potential conflict of interest is that I run a plant ecology firm. However, I do not do any ecological work with CoNPS under my firm.

A couple of questions on this tax return that I had to answer, “NO” to were: a) Do we have a written whistle-blower policy, and 2) Do we have a written document retention and destruction policy? We should determine whether or not we want/need these policies. We could table this part to another meeting.

In the past we’ve qualified for a 990 EZ form – about 20 questions about the organization. We do have a whistleblower policy in the employee handbook, but not a document retention and destruction policy. We can be fined for not having documentation even older than 10 years. We should plan on keeping all records and financial documentation.

Ann moved and Jim seconded to approve the 2020 CoNPS tax return. All approved – motion passed.

3. Annual meeting plans (Denise, 30 min) Please see CoNPS 45th Annual Meeting
Silent Auction info in the e-news.doesn’t have dates – Denise will confirm with Sue Dingwell and then share with Linda and Kelly (for Aquilegia). Denise will also share changes to meeting with Kelly. We currently have six sites and may be able to double up/ cost share: Tom, Maggie, Audrey, Denise, Linda, Kelly, Mo.

No campsites are currently available at Trinidad State Park for both dates during the annual meeting. Trinidad State Park told Denise that each campsite could have 2 tents, but only 1 vehicle per site.

Four sponsors so far for $800; Denise is working on finding more. We need more silent auction items – each board member should find donated items for the auction.

Denise will add a note that attendees may be required to wear a mask indoors due to updated COVID conditions.

The meeting will be in the gym instead of the theater. We have all the parking we need and space for over 300 attendees. We will try hard to have livestream video of the session and to provide the recording to anyone who purchased a ticket afterwards. We need two digital projectors – Denise will be asking individual chapters (Denver, Boulder) to bring digital projectors to the meeting.

We can use more photos for the contest!

4. Volunteer appreciation during annual meeting (Denise & Kathy, 20 min)
Denise would like to acknowledge and thank CoNPS core volunteers for our 45th anniversary, and the annual meeting has a 30 minute slot for appreciation. CoNPS is a volunteer-run organization. Over 80 volunteers helped with plant sale and garden tours this year – we can’t run these events without them! Volunteer instructors also give us high quality programs. Maggie will set up a page on Google drive so that volunteers can download a picture of themselves, a name/chapter/a few lines about what they did – so that Denise can create a slideshow about our fabulous volunteers to be shown at the annual meeting. We could have these slides running continuously throughout the day, or during breaks (if so, we’ll need 3 separate digital projectors and screens).

The 30 minutes slot will be used to highlight and appreciate volunteers of specific programs. If the slideshow is too long, Denise will create a subset of slides to highlight specific volunteers awards who have contributed more. The slideshow can run in the background while Denise is talking, or Denise could narrate the slideshow. Certificates will be laid out in alphabetical order so people can pick them up. Denise will mail out certificates to those who aren’t able to attend.

Denise needs a list of volunteers from each chapter; currently CoNPS does not have a volunteer database and no way of tracking volunteer hours. DBG uses Volgistics to track and communicate with volunteers – could be expensive. Kathy has tracked how many presentations workshop/field seminar/webinar presenters have given from 2019-present (37 have given one – certificate). Volunteers who have given more, perhaps a small gift like a hand lens. There is a line item in the organizational budget for “recognition and awards”, but also money in the annual meeting budget. Mo suggested that the expense should come out of the annual meeting budget.

One concern is that we don’t have records for volunteers who contributed before Denise and Kathy were hired by CoNPS. We should say that we’re specifically recognizing volunteer service over a stated period, but a broad acknowledgement to all volunteers who have made CoNPS what it is. Denise will email all members/ chapter presidents to give them the opportunity to participate on the slide show – those who want to be acknowledged can participate. Denise will offer technical help to any volunteers who have difficulties. Denise will print up certificates to give to volunteers. Appreciation may spur more members to volunteer and also brings awareness of all the different programs CoNPS offers.

5. Debrief plant sale (Denise, 10 min) Please see CoNPS Plant Sale debrief
Many of our members really value our native plant sale, despite the challenges. For next year, we will buy an amount that allows for contingencies. We will allow customers to choose their own substitutions from a separate section. Next year we will not offer refunds. We will also make it clear that customers must pick up their orders on the day of the sale or they forfeit their order. Pickup date will be first weekend in June next year. We also need more time and more volunteers to assemble orders – Denise will arrange delivery for Thurs, so that Thurs and Fri are assembly days. Sorting and assembling orders will be based on when orders come in – Denise will figure out how this could work.

Lynn mentioned that Boulder has stopped ordering from Little Valley Wholesale Nursery since they can’t confirm whether they use neonics. Denise is working with Harlequin’s and HPEC as wholesale suppliers for next year’s sale, with LVWN as a backup.

6. CAEE award (Kathy, 10 min) Please see CAEE Award for Board Meeting Report
Kathy announced that CoNPS is receiving the 2021 Award of Excellence in Environmental Education for Outstanding Covid-19 Program Response and Adaptation. Our online presentations and webinars increased our reach and revenue, decreased costs and provided attendees with a way to learn and enjoy themselves during a stressful time. Excellent work, Kathy!

The award ceremony will be November 4th at the American Mountaineering Center. Ann asked how we can use this award to promote CoNPS more – Denise will make an announcement in social media.. Kelly will make a short announcement in this upcoming Aquilegia, with a longer article for the fall issue.

7. Webinar update (Kathy, 10 min) Please see 2021 Webinars to Date
We were pleased to have David Inouye speak about pollinators, wildflowers and climate change. Kate Hogan will be presenting Wildscaping 101 in September. In October, we’ll have John Giordanengo about native ecosystems and sustainable economy and Chrissy Alba about native trees and shrubs. Kathy bases topics from attendee feedback and member surveys.

8. Future of in-person workshops and seminars (Kathy, 10 min)
In June, Kathy got the ok from the OC to do in-person field seminars and workshops. One seminar scheduled for August was not run due to the extensive wildfire season. Kathy gives speakers a choice between online and virtual programs. However, with the prevalence of the Delta variant of COVID, we may be prevented from offering in-person programs during the fall and winter. Denise noted that in-person events may require vaccination, and in some cases, indoor masking for all attendees. Chrissy said that virtual events have been so successful that we should continue through the winter and then re-assess. Anna noted that in areas where internet accessibility is poor, that virtual events are not ideal, but she agreed that until the pandemic eases, we should stick with webinars.

Kathy does not currently record webinars so that people are motivated to pay for that content. Maggie asked how can we charge for recorded webinar, so that people can watch later. Perhaps attendees who pay can be sent the link afterwards. Kathy also noted that we do not own webinar content and that anyone who receives a link can share it with others. Mo added that all we need to do is ask the speaker for permission to distribute the presentation however we want and confirm slide credit. Maggie recommended that the Kathy and O.C. meet separately and make a decision on how to proceed.

9. Executive Director position update (Operating Committee, 20 min)
The hiring committee received 3 applications and 1 letter of interest for the part-time Executive Director position. We interviewed 2 candidates for the position – thank you to Chrissy and Amy to arranging rooms for in-person interviews. The hiring committee is close to making an offer and will meet after this board meeting to finalize. Kudos to Ann for leading this effort!

10. Chapter and Committee updates (30 min)
Southeast Chapter: Busy with planning annual meeting. iNaturalist committee will get back to meeting once school is back in season. The chapter is involved in creating the Kathleen Marriage native plant garden, funded by the Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants grant. We have also been involved with local bioblitzes. The Rock Ledge Ranch garden has been adopted by the Restoration Committee – perhaps move effort next year. Southeast is offering in-person meetings.

Denver Chapter: Denver is also offering hybrid meetings as of July; the chapter meetings have run every month. In-person attendance has been limited thus far (10 members, 3 leaders, presenters, 31 virtual). The chapter has offered 14 field trips, so Audrey is reaching out to people to schedule a few more trips for the season. The chapter has also built partnerships with other organizations, such as a horse rescue organization near Roxborough (Zuma’s Rescue Ranch). There may be opportunities for Field Studies or Restoration committees to get involved. The chapter also offered a plant swap and is planning for a seed swap in October. Rahman is also in communication with Denver Parks to figure out how to get native plants for park projects.

Northern Chapter: Northern Chapter has had a good series of field trips this summer, one joint trip with Boulder Chapter to visit a bison ranch outside of Pawnee Buttes. The chapter does have some challenges getting trip leaders, so they would like to work on developing that. The native plant beds at the River’s Edge Natural Area in Loveland look beautiful, but the chapter has been less successful with retaining phenology volunteers. The chapter is also partnering with other organizations on a seed swap this October.

Plateau Chapter: In August, the chapter will have its first in-person gathering at Ute garden at the county extension office. They are also planning a photo plant campout on the Uncompahgre Plateau. They’ve also done 4 or 5 field trips, including some at high altitude. Mary has been working with the Ute tribe to renovate native plant garden and to record stories about uses of these plants.

Boulder Chapter: The chapter had a community myrtle spurge pull with WRV and a great field trip to Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens in Lyons. The chapter has one more field trip this season. The chapter is looking for a new leader of the steering committee and is developing a list for meeting presentations for October 2021-April 2022. The chapter may be changing its meeting day to Wednesday evenings. A graduate student from CU, Lauren Brignam, has connected the chapter to some excellent speakers from CU.

We are not sure yet whether we will have some of our meetings in-person, some hybrid, or some only online. Our approach so far is to talk with each prospective speaker to see whether they have a preference. It sounds like the Boulder Rural Fire meeting room in Gunbarrel has the capacity to support hybrid meetings, but we need to learn more about that. One of our steering committee members may be reaching out to the Denver chapter committee with questions about how you have been able to accomplish hybrid meetings (technically). Our decision on how to hold meetings will also depend on local policies and protocols around Covid as they develop this late summer and fall – especially Boulder Rural Fire’s protocols.

Mission Grant Committee: The last CoNPS mission grant supports an herbarium cabinet for the Ute garden and the Strategic Seed Reserve through the Southern Rockies Seed Network. Deadline for fall funding is August 31st. These grant programs cultivate community relationships and extend our mission across the state!

Aquilegia: Kelly would like these updates to be included in Aquilegia! The next issue will be coming out very shortly. The team is short on some people due to health concerns.

Next board meeting is October 23rd from 10 am – 1 pm, zoom link to follow.
Amy will send out Doodle poll for 2022 meeting dates after October board meeting. We will evaluate whether we can have in-person meeting options for 2022, but will always have an online option for those who can’t make it.

Deryn adjourned the meeting at 12:11 pm

Chat during meeting – incorporate into minutes
10:17:58 From Maggie Gaddis she/her to Everyone : I have site 59
10:27:06 From Jim Pisarowicz to Everyone : Denise have a digital projector I can bring…Jim
10:35:17 From Audrey Spencer to Everyone : Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently implemented a new volunteer tracking system – Becky Mares is the Statewide Volunteer Coordinator – it might be worth contacting her about it
10:41:09 From Kelly to Everyone : I have site #56 (electric), as well as a tent-only site (not sure of the number). I am willing to give up either site.
10:43:45 From Maggie Gaddis she/her to Everyone : Here is the slideshow bones:
10:44:46 From Maggie Gaddis she/her to Everyone : I have a projector
10:45:04 From Maggie Gaddis she/her to Everyone : good for slideshow, not necessarily for presenters. It’s pretty basic
11:21:46 From Kelly to Everyone : I vote to hold off on scheduling in-person workshops until we see more data on the infectiousness of the COVID variants.
11:22:47 From Anna Wilson to Everyone : As one with horrible internet, I want in-person meetings. But can wait.
11:33:42 From Anna Wilson to Everyone : Isn’t there a way to make the recordings non-copyable/non-printable?
11:35:20 From Denise Wilson to Everyone : Yes, attendees are given a link to the CoNPS private YouTube. They can’t copy the program, but they CAN share the link
11:46:27 From Audrey Spencer to Everyone : Zuma’s Rescue Ranch:
11:46:39 From Denise Wilson to Everyone : Zuma’s Rescue Ranch 5pm, 7745 N Moore Rd, Littleton, CO 80125
11:48:39 From Rahman to Everyone : Gotta go! Thanks everyone!