WHPA Strategic Plan, 2015-2020
Initiatives, Goals, and Action Steps

WHPA MISSION

In order to foster habitat conservation, watershed integrity, education and the enduring connection of people to the natural world, we acquire and provide access to lands along the Windmill Hill Ridgeline and nearby areas.

WHPA LONG-TERM VISION

The long-term vision of the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association is to have an interconnected network of natural and wilderness areas collectively stewarded by multiple conservation organizations connecting people to the land through education and recreation and which is sustainably balanced with the preservation of natural and wild habitat.

In order to further the mission and long-term vision of the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association, we have established the following Initiatives, Goals, and Action Steps for the next five years. This Strategic Plan will be implemented under the leadership of relevant committees and evaluated by the benchmarks listed.

(Committees of the WHPA Board of Trustees: Acquisitions, Development, Finance, Land Management, Outreach, Programs, Trails, Governance)

A. Initiative: Build an effective board to meet current and ongoing needs

Committee: Governance

Goals:
  1. Ensure a sustainable Board leadership structure. Conduct strategic and targeted recruiting of new board members
  2. Ensure effective leadership transitions, clearly define and support position responsibilities and tasks
  3. Ensure the efficacy of Working Committees’ structure and progress
  4. Develop board and leadership structure capable of managing 2000+ acres

 

Action Steps/Timeline:

  • Convene a leadership transition committee -- June and September 2015 and as required, provide recommendations to board
  • Consider the creation of a Governance committee (a committee combining some roles of extant committees that addresses organizational and operational issues)
  • Each year, conduct a board-needs assessment in preparation for annual recruiting / late Winter, early Spring
  • Create a list of leadership positions tasks, determine inefficient task areas and propose solutions that make those task areas more efficient (part time help, cross-training, efficient database management)
  • Continue to examine the potential for establishing an Executive Committee
  • Schedule a training workshop opportunity for Board members on the topic of highly functioning groups and board facilitation
  • Maintain / increase volunteers who can assist w/board activities

B. Initiative: Address endowment and finances

Committees: Finance, Outreach

Goals:

  1. Maximize return-on-investments through ongoing research and mission-aligned diversification of investments
  2. Develop long-term (5-10yrs) strategy for growing endowment                

 

Action Steps/Timeline:

  • Evaluate annual and lifetime membership models
  • Develop list of ways to grow endowment (e.g. dedicate portion of annual surplus to endowment, targeted fundraising for endowment)
    Include in quarterly report the investment of endowments
  • Engage with the Vermont Community Fund to offer Legacy Giving options
  • Encourage 100% participation of Board members in annual campaign

C. Initiative: Establish and clarify expectations regarding board and individual responsibility for fundraising
Committee: Development, all

Goals:
  1. Ensure the fiscal health of the organization that is necessary to achieve and advance our mission
  2. Define the human and financial resources required to address (a): determine the goals and needs of fundraising; determine the need for a paid/unpaid development person on the board

 

Action Steps/Timeline:

  1. Create and annual budget and action plan that reflects the current 5 year strategic plan initiatives
  2. Consider hiring a grant-writer on a consultant basis (or encourage Board member/members to apply for one grant every year)
  3. Engage with other land trusts to explore how fundraising challenges are addressed

D. Initiative: Maintain mindfulness of the context within which WHPA exists, to strengthen and advance mission
Committees: Development, Outreach, Programs

Goals:

  1. Develop and adhere to Board norms / group agreements
  2. Strengthen relationships with sister organizations and institutions
  3. Ensure the continuation and strength of education and outreach programs

 

Action Steps/Timeline:

  • Utilize board expertise to provide ‘mini-lessons’ / perspectives prior to or at board meetings
  • Host annual forum on topics of interest
  • Add one event that increases local public awareness of WHPA (or which increases WHPA’s awareness of the surrounding region)
  • Adapt / design more contemporary Education programs that involve   families
  • Partner with local / regional organizations

E. Initiative: Continue to acquire and provide access to lands of high conservation priority along, abutting, and near the Windmill Hill ridgeline
Committees: Acquisitions, Land Management, Trails

Goals:

  1. Research and acquire lands as deemed priority by board and/or sister organizations.
  2. Ensure effective and ongoing management of WHPA lands

 

Action Steps/Timeline:

  • Revisit and define WHPA Areas of Interest. -- October-November 2015, Spring 2016
  • Increase volunteer base and capacity
  • Examine the acquisition of important but disconnected lands
  • Establish ‘Friends of WHPA’ to specifically advance land stewardship
  • Focus on ridgeline-connecting and –widening parcels
  • Explore and develop partnerships with local / regional organizations
  • Continue to celebrate accomplishments

Roger explains side-hill drainage. © Sarah Waldo.

Volunteers keep Pinnacle’s 20 miles of trails safe and inviting for hikers.
Here Roger Haydock demonstrates how to improve side-hill drainage.
Observing left to right are Molly Wilson, Oliver Brody, and Rick Cowan.
Photo by Sarah Waldo.

Ridgeline View

A View of the Ridgeline

Nailing up the “Entering Pinnacle Association Land” sign at the grand-opening celebration of the Athens Dome acquisition at the Lake Property in Grafton

Nailing up the “Entering Pinnacle Association Land” sign at the
grand-opening celebration of the Athens Dome acquisition at the
Lake Property in Grafton

School Nature-Study Program

Student Outdoor Education. For a number of years the Pinnacle Association has worked with the Westminster schools to provide a nature-study program for all third and fourth graders. Beginning in the spring of 2013 a naturalist from The Nature Museum at Grafton has worked with the Association and the third- and fourth-grade teachers to implement the project whereby all classes in the two grades visit Pinnacle lands multiple times each year.

The naturalist, classroom teachers, and participating parents accompany the students. Everyone generally climbs to the summit – stopping for observation and discussion along the way – and picnics at the top. Specific study topics are determined by the standard school curriculum and have included ecosystems, Vermont local history, weather, erosion, and mapping. All students draw from nature, record their observations, and keep a journal documenting their investigation.