President’s Article

We recently completed the WVFA “Summer Conference” at Canaan Valley Resort and by all measures this was a successful event.   Strong support at all our events, good meetings with current topics and great support from the Division of Forestry.  We were honored to have Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher for our awards luncheon on Saturday and extend our appreciation to Mr. Thrasher for his support of our industry.  Thank you also to all of our event coordinators, staff and directors for your involvement in making this meeting valuable to our membership.   The Association has already started the planning stages for our 2018 Summer Conference with several adjustments to provide more value to our membership.

Spending time reflecting on strengths and recognizing weaknesses can be a positive process for any organization.  I recently came across some notes from a WFVA meeting several years ago during Lannes Williamson’s term as president.   Times were difficult so we were dedicating time to reflect on the benefits of WVFA (strengths) and the challenges (weaknesses) at the time and what we could do to improve.

The first step in this process was to define/describe the purpose of the Association so that goals and activities reflect the purpose.  My notes indicate that we provide the following five items as our purpose: a) Advocate/spokesperson for the industry  b) Image of the Industry  c) Provide services to members (industry)  d) Public Education about the industry  e) Intermediary for the membership.

It is apparent from my notes that membership had been surveyed to provide input on the importance of activities of the Association and following is a list by ranking of most important items:  1) Legislative Activities  2)Public Outreach  3)Training/workshops  4)Education Program  5)Be the “Face of Forestry”  6) Issue Management  7)Awards & Recognition  8)Committees.   From this we developed a list of strengths which included:  a) Lobbying  b) Public Awareness (on-going communication program) c)Training  d)Meetings  e) “Political Clout”.  I would agree that the Association continues to perform well in these areas today as we have in the past.

Next, we examined our weaknesses and my notes provide the following list: 1) membership (not as strong as in past)  2) Planning/succession  3)Logger involvement  4)Reporting successes (informing membership)  5)Participation and 6) funding.  Let’s reflect on how these weaknesses have been addressed by the Association.  Starting with solid leadership from Lannes Williamson, Ed Kraynok and our Executive Director Frank Stewart the Association has addressed many of the weaknesses as noted.  Membership has been growing for the past three years at an average of 70+ new members a year.  The implementation of the Logger’s Council within the Association has greatly improved logger involvement in the Association.  Planning/Succession is ongoing as we are currently reviewing all committee chairpersons to provide a path to pass on tenured experience to the next leadership as needed.  Our efforts to improve communication through our quarterly magazine, eNewsletter, social media and communications program has been well received and has improved our reporting successes area of weakness.  Participation at our Summer Conference and recent board of director’s election has indicated that our membership is engaged and this is a very positive improvement.   The Association has a solid financial position thanks to an improving industry, growing membership and improved communications.

While it is exciting to report all these improvements much work remains to take our Association to the next level.