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Young Naturalists’ Club of BC Strategic Plan 2010-15

Inspiring children naturally


INTRODUCTION This document identifies key strategic directions and actions that over the five year period 2010-2015 will ensure the organization develops in a way that secures its long-term viability and effectiveness, providing flexibility for the periodic re-setting of priorities, and for development of business and financial plans, and other associated pieces critical to long-term success.

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OUR EVOLUTION In the decade since the YNC was established, in 2000, the society has evolved from a program of Nature Vancouver (formerly the Vancouver Natural History Society) into a federally registered charity with its own constitution, board, staff, an extensive province-wide member and volunteer-base, and a suite of programs aimed at 5-14 year olds. These programs include both Nature Clubs for Families and Nature Clubs for Schools and are supported by the award-winning quarterly magazine NatureWILD, year-round local Explorer Days, Action Awards and online resources such as the Virtual Clubhouse. The YNC is affiliated with BC Nature (the Federation of BC Naturalists) and is committed to supporting the objectives of BC Nature. YNC’s achievements have been recognized by a series of provincial and national awards to co-founder and President, Daphne Solecki. The future holds opportunities for YNC, along with challenges and risks, particularly in the areas of finances, which require the organization to adapt and innovate so that it effectively builds on its current member, volunteer and program base. Recent compelling evidence of a disconnect between children and nature, scientific research demonstrating that many aspects of childhood development are enhanced by free time exploring nature, government education and environment policy that closely aligns with YNC’s mission and objectives, and a broad acceptance and increased understanding of climate change bringing the environment back to the top of political, social and even cultural agendae for British Columbians. These are all key factors that are shaping the future context in which the organization will operate.

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OUR VISION Inspiring Children Naturally The YNC will inspire ecological literacy in children of British Columbia, to help them make better-informed decisions, through early-age experiences with nature in the outdoors, and be widely recognized as a leader in enabling British Columbian children to achieve their full potential derived from exposure to nature. This vision will have been achieved when YNC can demonstrate compelling evidence of its widespread acceptance by others as being: • A strong, respected non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring nature literacy among British Columbia’s children and youth; • A professional organization that offers members and participants satisfying, enjoyable, and effective programs; • A recognized source of credible, quality outreach and education programs for delivery to individuals, families, schools and the wider public; • A motivator of young people to embrace nature-related education, career and the environmental movement; • An organization that consistently meets the expectations of its members, donors, and supporters.

OUR MISSION The purpose of the Young Naturalists Club of British Columbia (YNC), embedded within our Constitution, is to encourage and assist young people to develop a love of nature, and a feeling of respect and responsibility for the unique ecosystems, flora and fauna of British Columbia.

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The mission will be achieved by: • Maintaining a broad base of dedicated volunteers and loyal members through provision of support services, strategic communications, events, and member recognition awards


• Working collaboratively with partners and complementing the activities of others engaged in related nature outreach and education activities • Conducting education, outreach and training activities that are focused on YNC’s strengths • Maintaining a strong governance structure which includes the active participation of the Board and advisory groups

OUR VALUES These reflect widely-held beliefs among people associated with the YNC. These beliefs constitute the essence of our organizational culture, and provide motivation, stability, and strategic direction: • Nature Enhances Learning and Health - first hand outdoor experience with nature is an effective way to educate and broaden childhood well-being, and enhance child development, and time regularly spent in nature provides health benefits to all ages; • Inter-generational Responsibility - parents and educators want the best learning environment for their children, want children to be well informed about the natural world, which will lead to better-informed decision-making later in life; • Respect for Nature – the YNC strives for a better understanding of natural history through human respect for nature, which has values beyond its immediate or practical value to humans. The study of nature is fascinating in itself, and the YNC will share the joy and intrigue of working with nature with others, to enrich their lives; • Willingness to act on behalf of nature – YNC encourages children and families to take part in stewardship activities and other action to protect the natural environment; • Commitment to People – the YNC is committed to the honest, transparent, and respectful treatment of all individuals, across all cultures, including staff, volunteers, members, funders, partners, and the wider public. YNC believes that informed children and their families have important roles to play in developing an environmentallyliterate and concerned public.

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PARTICULAR STRENGTHS, OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES The following factors are of key relevance to the YNC’s ability to fulfill its vision and mission. Strengths: • A solid vision, mission and clearly-defined niche; • An established network of dedicated volunteers and leaders province-wide; • YNC delivers satisfying and enjoyable programs that attract new and sustain existing members and volunteers; • Recognition by local natural history and educator communities, provincial government and Canada as a viable and well-respected organization; • Capable and committed staff providing strength and continuity to a decade of organizational programs; • NatureWILD is a highly respected, award-winning publication; • Successful partnerships with BC Nature, schools and other groups, from which to build on; • Active Board of Directors who participate directly in organization programs and administration; • Previous fundraising success.

Opportunities: • Lack of other programs filling this governmentacknowledged need in British Columbia; unique programming components that fit with provincial government policy; • Scientifically demonstrated health benefits;

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• Very large and growing base of children and families to influence; • Large, multi-cultural communities close to nature; • Use new media as a communication platform to encourage and inspire outdoor exploration and action; • Synergistic initiatives that are building the constituency for YNC’s vision and mission which, in partnership with YNC can raise YNC’s profile and program delivery (e.g. the Child in Nature Alliance platform to project YNC’s message); • Established programs that can be rolled out with new collaborating/partner groups and in different regions of British Columbia. Challenges: • A Board with limited experience of governance and business planning; • Staff time is limited by inadequate funding. Limited staff capacity to develop key areas such as website, nurturing leaders, growing programs; • Poor success with, and exposure to key foundations; little corporate fundraising experience; • Limited resources to support marketing and media relations; • Membership business model – current membership doesn’t cover core costs of magazine production. No specific business plan to cover core costs; • Limited resources to support marketing and media relations; • Lack of public awareness of the organization; • Need to develop the funding and supporter base for programs regionally and provincially; • Need to increase membership base; • Need to increase donor base.

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STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS FOR 2010-2015 This Strategic Plan provides the organization with general guidance for its evolution over the next five years. YNC’s business, expenditure and fund-raising plans flow from the Strategic Plan, and specify how the Strategic Plan is implemented over an annual cycle. A strategic planning process conducted in 2009 identified a suite of organizational areas for attention and development, to enhance YNC’s capacity and effectiveness, prioritized in the following order: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Fundraising and Resources Vision and Planning Programs and Campaigns Board Public Communications and Alliances Members, volunteers, leaders Staff Budgeting, accounting and reporting

The following five strategic directions are the major areas where YNC will concentrate its efforts to address these eight priorities and enhance organizational capability and program delivery. Progress in these strategic directions will be measured directly against the objectives laid out under each strategic direction.

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Strategic Direction: Establish and maintain organizational financial security Goal: Develop a diverse plan for fundraising and development with specific goals that are reviewed quarterly, in which revenue from membership & fee-for-service, donations and grants are approximately equal. Objectives: 1. Develop a cost-effective membership business model. 2. Establish government funding for programs aligned with educational, environmental and health policies. 3. Develop a model for corporate support that enables medium-term unrestricted funding commitments. 4. Develop an individual donor strategy with a long-term horizon. 5. Develop, test and evaluate fundraising event concepts and paid services. 6. Embed a culture of fundraising in organization at all levels of engagement from volunteers to staff and board. Desired Outcomes: • A diversified and more balanced approach to fund-raising with reduced reliance on grants; • A longer-term focus to fund-raising with a 3-5 year horizon; • An increase in multi-year unrestricted funding • A positive culture of fundraising within the organization

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Strategic Direction: Maintain and develop effective programs and campaigns consistent with the organization’s mission Goal: To develop, deliver, manage and evaluate programs and campaigns strategically Objectives: 1. Build on the current number of YNC clubs across the province, and expand successful local programs to other regions of the province. 2. Expand the circulation of NatureWILD, adapt the publication to the needs of members and schools, and develop YNC’s web-based resources for members and schools in tandem. 3. Build on the Nature Clubs in Schools initiative to engage more students and to enable more schools to successfully start and maintain nature clubs. 4. Work with appropriate levels of government to ensure YNC programs augment and/or assist contributions to sciencebased curricula, social responsibility and health. 5. Encourage multi-cultural involvement and diversity in YNC’s nature and volunteer programs.

Desired Outcomes: • An increase in the number of children and their families exploring and learning about BC’s wild species and spaces through engagement in YNC programs; • Broader uptake of YNC programs through British Columbia’s schools system and greater recognition of YNC program strengths.

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Strategic Direction: Build membership and partnerships to increase core support, influence, and raise organizational profile Goal: To build a more visible YNC presence and partnership network across British Columbia Objectives: 1. Develop and implement an integrated marketing, communications, and media relations program. 2. Maintain and develop high quality communications materials, including publications, printed and electronic newsletters, and web site. 3. Increase activities that lead to enhanced public awareness. 4. Provide quality membership recruitment, support, and services. 5. Increase overall membership and participation in YNC’s programs, in proportion to the population distribution of British Columbians as a whole. 6. Engage more nature mentors from a variety of community sources (naturalist clubs, outdoor enthusiasts, professionals) to support YNC clubs and members. 7. Develop programs that will help attract new members and program participants, such as a YNC Ambassadors program. 8. Develop agreements of cooperation and collaboration with other organizations, including BC Nature, local natural history groups, and national and international groups concerned with promoting environmental education among children and youth. Desired Outcomes: • YNC’s core support is strengthened through individual and family memberships, and through bi- and multi-lateral partnerships involving its programs; 12

• The name and purpose of YNC is recognized by the public, other community groups, funders and government throughout BC.


Strategic Direction: Ensure that children are supported in their natural history and environmental interests beyond YNC. Goal: Provide opportunities for children to continue their involvement in natural history and environmental learning and activities through teen-age years to adulthood Objectives: 1. Increase the number of past YNC members participating in environmental action projects, acting as nature mentors themselves, or joining adult nature clubs (or equivalent groups). 2. Track and report on progress of YNC graduates, including over the previous decade. 3. Partner with BC Nature to create a teen-age group (modelled on RSPB Phoenix program). Desired Outcomes: • A new generation of naturalists and ecological thinkers in British Columbia; • More opportunities are provided for both a) youth to stay involved with the YNC, and b) YNC graduates to continue further education in the environmental sector, and/or become connected with institutions and organizations operating environmental programs; • The organization is better able to demonstrate its achievements towards it Vision and Mission.

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Strategic Direction: Strengthen governance to increase organizational strength and capacity

Goal: Provide strategic guidance for successful management and development of YNC Objectives: 1. Maintain a strong and effective Board that guides policy development and provides strategic direction to the organization, including to senior staff. 2. Ensure that professional budgeting, accounting, reporting policies continue to be applied, and adopt procedures that allow for appropriate risk management, including reducing vulnerability to external changes by maintaining diversified revenue sources. 3. Continue to maintain professional personnel management procedures that attract and maintain motivated, high quality staff. 4. Review staff demands, development and performance annually, and as resources allow, develop and introduce staff capacity in programming, marketing, personnel management, and other key areas. Desired Outcomes: • The staff and volunteer positions available within YNC are well defined and transferable, not dependent on financial and personnel circumstances; • Management and administrative tasks are executed by clearly indicated team member(s) in a strategic, timely fashion; • Development of staff, board, and volunteer leaders is supported.

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Acknowledgements A debt of gratitude is due to all the participants in the YNC strategic planning process which was undertaken during the height (or should we say bottom) of the economic downturn. Thank you to the 2009-2010 YNC Board of Directors: Daphne Solecki (President), George Bangham (Vice President), Amardeep Balaggan (Treasurer),Ruth Foster, Laura Estrada, Ian McKeachie, Eva Nagy, Gail Ross, and with a special nod to Pete Davidson, Ron Butler and Bob Peart who championed the work. Thank you also to Susanne StewartPatterson of Community Links Consulting, for helping the board and staff negotiate the strategic planning waters with humour and skill. And thanks go to Kristine Webber, Executive Director, Jennifer Swanston, Club Coordinator, and Monica Belko, NatureWILD Artistic Director, the part-time staff with the full-time commitment, for their insightful contributions.

Questions about this document should be directed to Kristine Webber at info@ync.ca

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Graphic Design: Earthwise|Design

Young Naturalists’ Club of BC Inspiring children naturally

1620 Mt. Seymour Rd. North Vancouver, BC V7G 2R9 phone: 604.987.3057 email: info@ync.ca BC Society S-50849 Federal Charity 84961 1926 RR0001

visit us at www.ync.ca


YNC Strategic Plan 2010-2015