The board meeting concentrated on the details of the Expo. The board reviewed the program, logistics, assignments, speaker introductions, and Membership Meeting agenda. The upcoming meeting with the Montana Department of Agriculture was discussed. The meeting will be held on Friday, January 8th, 2010 after the close of the Expo. The goal of the meeting is to form a committee of interested members to bring a bill to the legislature in 2011 to restore licensing reciprocity with other states. The financials were reviewed and discussed. Lori noted that unless there were a very high number of walk-in registrations at the Expo, association revenues will fall short of requirements. The 2010 board meeting schedule was finalized.
It was reported that 11 booths remain unsold. Several additional booths must be sold along with several more registrations in order for us to break even. The additional costs associated with bringing the Expo to Missoula were reviewed, as were the efforts to keep costs to a minimum. The board discussed the submission of their drafts for the annual reports. The Breakfast of Champions was finalized with 8 table topics and moderators. Board Expo assignments were discussed, and will be detailed at the January meeting prior to the Expo. The board was asked to go to the membership to try to find some volunteers for the Expo. Draft talking points for the upcoming out-of-state licensing issue meeting with the Montana Department of Agriculture were presented and reviewed. It was noted that Susan Smith, board secretary will be leaving the board. A search for a new secretary will begin immediately with the hope of filling the position before the January board meeting. The PLANET Day of Service was discussed. The board will be looking for a project in the Billings area.
It was reported that 69 booths were booked and 22 were available at the time of the meeting. The board discussed their concerns over not having a facility for large equipment vendors this year and a focus to bring them back in 2011 in Billings. The board will be calling past exhibitors that are not yet signed up to invite them to exhibit in Missoula. Lori is doing one final attendee mailing in early December. Expo financials and break-even numbers will be reviewed after the Early Registration deadline on the next board call. The board continues to be hopeful that Bitterroot and Missoula folks who have long awaited the Expo’s return to Missoula will attend. The Best of Montana Landscape and Container Planting award judges were chosen. Breakfast of Champion moderators were named. The board will begin inviting moderators to participate. The board was notified that a couple of Expo speakers will be in town prior to or following the Expo and would appreciate some time being shown the area. A meeting was scheduled at the end of the Expo with the Montana Department of Agriculture to discuss the out-of-state licensing issue. Draft talking points will be developed for the December board call for finalization prior to the meeting. Board members volunteered to manage the three Native Plant Seminars being developed for February 19th in Billings, Bozeman, and Great Falls.
The finances were reported in good order. It was noted that the executive director has kept expenses down. Booth sales were reviewed, noting 63 booths sold to date. Board members will be contacting organizations that have not yet reserved booth space. Lori presented a draft list of Breakfast of Champion topics based on suggestions received through Expo evaluations and a running list developed by the board. Andy will refine the list and make recommendations for table moderators. The board meeting at the Expo was planned. The Member of the Year award was discussed and a recipient was decided upon. The new out of state licensing issue was discussed and the board reviewed communications from the Montana Department of Agriculture. Lori is to work with the MDOA to set up a working meeting. A brief update by the Regional Recycling Committee was discussed. A report will be made for the Expo. It was reported that the CPP forensics work was completed and the CPP list has been updated with all available information. Two potential new board members will be included on a ballot in the November Leaflet newsletter. After further discussion, it was decided that Life Membership awards will be made by the board at the December board meeting.
The final Fall Tour schedule and activities were discussed, including the new information that Governor Schweitzer will be hosting all of the participants of the Fall Tour in his conference room prior to the Clayton Berg tree planting ceremony at the state capitol. The board decided that future pre-Fall Tour board meetings would be planned as late as possible on the day prior to the Fall Tour in order for board members to lose the least amount of work time and hold an effective and efficient meeting. Finances were reported in good order. Membership was reported as steady even in the midst of the economic downturn. The 2010 Montana Green Expo in Missoula was discussed. Booth sales are continuing to come in. The board will take an active role in communicating to companies not yet signed up. It was decided that the final post card mailing to make potential attendees aware of the Expo will be done in December, closer to the Expo dates. A limited number of parking spots will be purchased for Expo exhibitors, speakers, and attendees. Education Committee Chair Jennifer Weiss reported that Mary Burrows of MSU may be offering a 1-day seminar in March for the Nursery industry. The board decided to try to form a committee of past board presidents and the current board president to address the awarding of Life Memberships. The board nomination process was discussed. A ballot will be distributed and voting will take place prior to the Expo. The new board members will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting.
Education Committee Chair Jennifer Weiss and Executive Director Lori Curtis worked with Missoula County Extension and MSU to finalize plans for the future of the IPM Certification Program. The program will continue as initially designed with the original four parts through this year. To receive MNLA IPM Certification, one must take all four parts and pass a test. Part 3 will be given at the Fall Tour in August and Part 4 will be given at the January Expo. Missed class material will soon be available through MSU online and free for downloading. Hard copies will still be available from MNLA for a production fee of $12. Part 4 will also be included in the 2010 Expo program. MNLA will apply for grant money to create an IPM webpage. After the conclusion of the initial 4-part series, we will combine the MNLA IPM Certification program with MSU’s which requires 12 credits for certification. Advertising rates were discussed. The ED compared MNLA rates with similar organizations and determined that while our current non-member rates are comparable to other horticultural associations, our member rates are significantly lower. Based on economic conditions, it was decided not to increase rates at this time. Membership was reported as steady. The Fall Tour planning has been finalized and a flyer will be distributed to members. Lori conducted an event walk-thru at the University of Montana Event Center and a Host training at the Doubletree Edgewater Missoula in Missoula and is pleased with the preparations for both facilities.
Finances were reviewed and reported as steady. Accounts Receivable includes funds to be collected by July 1 on booths sold through Priority Booking, and Membership Dues due trough June 30, 2009. Annual renewal of the Executive Director’s contract was discussed. All board members supported the annual renewal. The current membership renewal numbers are typical for this time of year. Thirty-six members have agreed to receive their next-year renewals by e-mail. It was agreed that board members still need to pursue new members and that the new member packet is a useful tool for doing so. The PLANET Day of Service was reported as a successful event. Jennifer Weiss had 12 volunteers at the Bozeman Library site where they did a spring clean-up project.
Two local Bozeman television stations as well as the Chronicle featured MNLA’s volunteer work at the Kevin Mundy Memorial Bridge. The board reviewed a scholarship application and a recipient will be announced in July. MNLA signed on to a NLAE letter supporting the endorsement of H.R. 2222, the “Green Communities Act”, which gives our industry an opportunity to convey the value of landscaping, trees, and plants beyond just aesthetics and allows us to show monetary value of ecosystem protection and other services.
The board discussed the MNLA/MSU Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Certification Program. The education committee chair and the executive director will work with MSU to further define the program and address issues such as making up missed program classes possibly through on-line course participation. Initially offered at no cost to members, MNLA has incurred costs for the program. The board will conduct a program review, make decisions about its implementation, and communicate to the MNLA membership. The possibility of discounts for 5 or more CPP testtakers from the same organization was discussed. A final recommendation will be made at the June board meeting. The financials were reviewed noting expected membership renewal revenues and better performance in May. The focus remains on keeping administrative and Expo costs down while providing quality programs for the membership. The board voted to make a minor adjustment to Expo registration fees to cover the rising costs of food and facilities. Speakers and keynotes for the 2010 Montana Green Expo are booked with the exception of two slots for speakers from the University of Montana. The issue of our inability to have large equipment exhibitors in the Missoula facility was discussed. Because exhibiting outdoors has not been an appealing option to the equipment vendors, the board agreed to offer a discount to those booking more than one booth. Lori will also look into the possibility of providing visibility for equipment vendors at the Fall Tour. Two projects have been planned for the PLANET Day of Service; the Gallatin Valley Land Trust Kevin Mundy Memorial Bridge/Trail project, and the Bozeman Library spring spruce-up project. Board members Andy and Jennifer will lead these two projects.
The FYE 2008 & February 2008 financials were reviewed and approved. A grant has been applied for through the Department of Agriculture. If received, the grant money will be put toward efforts in educating people in the industry and community at large regarding native and drought tolerant plants and xeriscaping. An Expo registration rate adjustment was discussed as part of the board’s responsibility to the membership to keep the association solvent. The board will review proposed adjustments and finalize the 2010 rates at the April board meeting. Lori reported that thirteen new members have been added since January 1, 2009; eight from the membership drive. Lori will publish at each board meeting, a list of the new members geographically. The board is focusing on building the membership back up in the Missoula area. All four keynotes and all but 5 track speakers for the 2010 Montana Green Expo are committed, as well as the banquet entertainment. Lori reported that the annual spring promotion of the planting catalogs is in the mail to our general membership. The Planet Day of Service possibilities were reviewed, with a final decision expected by the end of the month.
The board finalized their schedule of announcing Expo presenters, and finalized the schedule of booth staffing during the Expo. The annual banquet agenda and award presentations were finalized, and the Annual Membership Meeting agenda was reviewed and finalized. Moderators were assigned for the Breakfast of Champion topics. All final details for the Expo were reviewed. The financials were reported through December, noting a lower expectation in Expo participation and attendance – and therefore revenues – due to the general economic downturn. Membership renewal revenues are also down slightly reflecting the slowed economy. A new operating budget for FY 2009 will be presented for review in February. Patricia Denke, Pest Management Program Manager, and Michele Mettler, Nursery and Quarantine Specialist from the Department of Agriculture attended the board meeting as guests to present updated information to the board.