Executive Director Update..Summer 2020
Executive Director Update:…Kasey Hovik
These are historic times with challenges which were unimagined by many of us just a few months ago. While we grieve the loss of life, the incredible stress and strain on our front-line medical providers, we must strive to find ways to manage and even improve in our organizations and in our personal lives. I couldn’t be prouder of how resilient and determined the staff and board of directors of Umpqua Watersheds has been since the Covid-19 emergency was declared. Our Board of Director meetings and monthly committee meetings have been online since March. Melanie MacKinnon, our Office Manager and Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld, our AmeriCorps member and myself have been working from home since March and have weekly check-ins to coordinate work on ongoing projects and day-to-day operations.
Melanie and Robyn, along with UW treasurer, Mark Eason, have been taking the lead to upgrade our accounting software, QuickBooks, as well as our new membership database, Bloomerang which will enable us to accomplish much more than ever before. We have utilized Zoom and other online meeting platforms to coordinate and collaborate on major projects.
We were disappointed that we had to cancel our 25th Anniversary Membership Banquet in April at Umpqua Community College. Gathering together with our members and supporters is such a boost to the organization. It gives us an opportunity to update everyone on what we are doing to move our mission forward, to recognize contributions of our amazing volunteers and to mingle with the faithful. The staff, board and volunteers always feel rejuvenated after spending time with “our clan”. As Kermit the Frog says, “It isn’t easy being green” but when we have the opportunity to spend quality time together, we all are left with a feeling of hope and determination to continue to work together to protect, preserve and celebrate our beloved Umpqua Watershed and beyond.
While we can’t meet together this year, the staff and board of directors of Umpqua Watersheds have been working hard to create a “Virtual 25th Anniversary Banquet” which will be a Facebook Live Event on June 16th at 7pm. We will also make the video of our presentations and that of our keynote speaker, Dominick DelaSalla available for people not on Facebook via a link on our website. We hope that all of you can invest an hour, grab some dinner and your favorite beverage and join us. We have put a lot of work into the program and I am sure you will enjoy seeing what we have to share.
We are very excited to announce the addition of Angela Dawn Jensen to our staff as our new Conservation/Legal Director (see Angela’s article in Conservation Corner). She will be working to fill the huge shoes of Joseph Patrick (Paddy) Quinn who led our Conservation efforts for the past decade. Nobody can replace the passion and the eloquence of Paddy but we know Angela will add so much to our organization. Thanks to a grant written by Melanie MacKinnon, we received $12,000 from the Burning Foundation to support this position. Angela will be writing comments and participating on several Google Groups with our environmental conservation partners on pending legislation and policy issues related to issues ranging from updating the Oregon Forest Practices Act, Wildfire mitigation to Aerial spraying. We also have some dedicated volunteers who will be working hard to provide ground-truthing data for Angela’s work. Through the combined effort of Janice Reid and Steve Cole, all of the Watershed analysis’ and all of the comments and letters from the last 25 years are now available online and available for Angela, and others, to use as they pursue every option to counter the increasing pressure to increase timber harvests on public lands.
Finally, I want to recognize the tremendous effort of Robyn to advance our Environmental Education initiatives, despite not being able to provide in class instruction because schools are closed. Almost immediately, she came up with the idea of creating a weekly online environmental instruction program called “Home Explorers”. Because of her efforts, children, not only in our community but also across the country have the opportunity to learn about and actively participate in environmental education. (see Robyn’s article) Robyn is driven to make a positive difference for our organization and for young people and she never disappoints. Our AmeriCorps program continues to be one of the jewels of the United Community AmeriCorps program and we couldn’t be prouder of our partners at UCAN and all of the young people who have chosen to travel to our little piece of paradise to serve in our community. I am very happy to announce that we have already chosen our next AmeriCorps member, Ryan Kincaid for the 2020-21 program year. She won’t be joining us until September but has agreed to work with Robyn over the summer to ensure a smooth transition.
In closing, please know that all of us at Umpqua Watersheds hope that you are safe and well. Please stay in touch with us during these difficult times and let us know if you need help. Our greatest strength as a country, state, community and as a small, nearly all-volunteer organization is to come together and help each other when times are tough. We are here for you and appreciate your support.