Chairman’s Letter: Friendships Old and New
By Ed Samek
Spring 2014 Friends of Acadia Journal
It’s an exciting time to be involved with Friends of Acadia. Here we are, in the busy early stages of new projects to protect Acadia’s unique natural resources and the Acadia visitor experience, at the forefront of efforts to advocate for more sustainable federal funding for parks, and deeply involved in dozens of community partnerships planning to celebrate with the park its 100th birthday in 2016, just two short years away.
All this is happening while FOA continues our effort and support of our long term, important projects such as the maintenance and upkeep of the carriage roads and trail network plus the ongoing support of the environmentally friendly Island Explorer bus system.
At a recent meeting of the Friends of Acadia Board of Directors, we heard from retiring Deputy Superintendent Len Bobinchock that the dedication and impact of Acadia’s friends in the private sector have given him and Superintendent Sheridan Steele confidence to tackle projects that might not have been possible in other parks. Len has been a remarkable asset for Acadia for more than 25 years, and we will surely miss his patience, his deep concern for Acadia’s wellbeing, and his tremendous institutional knowledge. Len, we wish you a very happy retirement—you’ve earned it!
It is no new news that the “secret sauce” of almost every organization and team is the people involved. Fortunately, Acadia National Park is able to attract many talented staff members, and the special nature of this place inspires many to stay for an extended tenure. Likewise, Friends of Acadia, too, attracts the best and enjoys very low turnover among its staff and has notable devotion from board members. This allows Friends of Acadia to tackle long-term projects and continually improve its operations–including its project planning and implementation, governance and fundraising efficiency–from year to year.
While this experience and institutional knowledge have been a huge asset at Friends of Acadia, we also benefit greatly from the fresh perspective and ideas that new members bring. Our board discussions encourage a wide range of ideas and opinions. From a board perspective, I can tell you that the new directors that FOA has welcomed over the last few months (see page 23) have added to the existing vitality and excitement around our board table at recent meetings. At the same time, several existing board members have stepped up to new leadership roles, becoming officers or committee chairs. In an age when our increasingly busy world seems to demand more out of all of us every day, every hour and minute, I am very proud of the commitment and engagement that our volunteer board members are offering through their service to Acadia.
We are also incredibly fortunate to have a strong network of “alumni” who remain active with Friends of Acadia even after rotating off the board of directors. Some become Honorary Trustees, willing to help the organization with key relationships, fundraising, or policy development through committee work. Others choose to forego meetings for more volunteer time out working on the trails and carriage roads (who can blame them?).
Earlier this spring, FOA emailed an Advocacy Alert urging members to be in touch with Congress on some key funding bills; we were delighted, but not surprised, that the very first response in the form of a passionate and personal letter to all four members of Maine’s delegation, came from one of our former board members.
Friends of Acadia continues to thrive on this essential blend of our historic roots and new ideas for the future. It is important that this be reflected across our board, staff, volunteers and membership. Whether their relationship with the organization is measured in decades or months, all share a deep love for Acadia and desire to give back. I hope that as you scan down the names at the front of this magazine of our board members and honorary trustees, you will consider each of us a resource should you wish to learn more about FOA’s work and how you can become more involved. It is a pleasure to serve Acadia, this organization, and you—our members. Together, we are accomplishing great things. Thank you!