Headwaters Chapter Dues Proposal

bdnoticesThe dues proposal was passed by the HMN Board of Directors at their May 15, 2014, meeting. Our chapter administration will now be funded by $12 annual member dues. Read on for the back story of this proposal.

At their April 17, 2014, meeting, the HMN Board of Directors voted in favor of a proposal to institute annual membership dues. A vote to finalize this proposal will come up at the May 15, 2014, meeting after allowing time to receive reactions from our members.

From our Chapter President Tom Long:

After a long discussion at the April meeting, the Board of Headwaters Chapter proposed annual dues of $12.00. The Board tabled a final decision until the May 15 meeting at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Verona. At 11:30 a.m., just prior to our meeting, the Board invites members of Headwaters Chapter to personally share your opinions and ideas concerning dues and the budget. You may also contact any Board member by email or phone.

Making this decision is challenging for the Board but we believe that having adequate financial resources is a high yield investment in our energetic chapter. When Headwaters Chapter was born, there was “seed money” to pay start-up expenses – as our third class nears commencement, it is becoming clear that we need sustainable funding to support chapter activities and administrative expenses. Beyond our individual volunteer activities, Headwaters has developed into a community where teams work energetically on activities like the Shenandoah Mountain Wildflower Tournament and our focus project at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Our annual meeting and other social/celebratory events, enriching advanced training opportunities, and outreach to the community make us a vibrant and energetic organization serving Augusta and Rockingham counties and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro.

This growth, along with typical administrative expenses (rental for annual meeting, postage and post office box, printing, small gratuities for advanced training presenters, etc.) requires $300 to $500 per year. After learning more about dues in other Virginia Master Naturalist chapters and surveying our members, the Board felt a dollar a month was a reasonable member investment in our dynamic and growing program.

The key points of the dues proposal made under Article IV, G, 1 include:

  • Headwaters Chapter shall assess annual membership dues of $12.00 per year.
  • The training fee shall include the first year dues for new trainees/members.
  • A dues notice will be sent to members by email no later than September 15 of each year.

In anticipation of dues, the bylaws currently provide:

  • If dues are not paid by the annual meeting, then all privileges afforded a certified member, including voting, are rescinded until dues are paid.
  • Any member may request a dues waiver or reduction by submitting to the Treasurer a written statement (or email) explaining why the member should not or cannot pay the full dues. The Board, by majority vote, may grant a waiver on a case-by-case basis.
  • Honorary members shall not pay dues.
  • Monies raised by dues shall be used to pay for administrative expenses and for chapter projects. All expenditures must be approved by the Board.

Additionally, the Board of Directors endorses an amendment to Article IX, A of the bylaws change the fiscal year from the calendar year to July 1 through June 30 to align it with our training class schedule. Bylaws amendments will be voted on at the annual meeting.

piggy_bankd4517aIn an effort to encourage some dialogue on this issue, RoxAnna has offered her impassioned perspective on the value of the Master Naturalist experience here.

Get a gist of Adrie’s appeal to explore other options to dues in the High Yield Investment article in the May 2014 Headwaters Highlights.

Let us know what you think! Use the comment box enabled below … or come to the May board meeting, May 15, 11:30 AM @ Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 517 Lee Hwy, Verona … or contact a HMN board member before then.

It wasn’t until I helped on the training committee that I realized the fees paid by trainees actually pay all the expenses incurred by our local VMN program. There was a little seed money that started HMN but 2011 thru 2014 has operated on tuition fees. The committee wants trainees to get the best possible training and resource material available. Of course that requires some money and that’s where we’d like to see those fees used.

Fortunately our guest speakers for class and field trips do not charge, imagine what the course would cost if they did. Each speaker is given a small Thank You gift and card. The room at Bridgewater is renewed for each session, currently at no charge, but a donation is made. We hope to keep good will flowing. As our team of naturalists grows we need a larger facility for the annual meeting. The free ones leave us vulnerable to the weather- remember Gretchen’s bat presentation at Grand Caverns?! Buck Hill was wonderful but cost $150 about half the going rate. We are always looking for alternatives. Any suggestions? What about projects? The Wild Life Center looks great and most was donated but what’s next? Wouldn’t a little seed money help grow our projects?

Face it every organization has some basic administrative costs; P.O. box, printing, equipment [that projector will not last forever] those Thank You gifts and annual meeting expenses add up. When I signed up I didn’t know or think about dues. Now I have. After considering all the great camaraderie that has grown from learning and working with this group of volunteers $12 is a bargain.

– Judy Tammi, Cohort 2