Chairman’s Letter: Who are we? And How and Why we do what we do!
By Ed Samek
Summer 2015 Friends of Acadia Journal
With the 2016 Acadia Centennial fast approaching, we’ve been hearing a lot about the farsighted individuals who created this park from scratch, drawing on their great love for this remarkable place, their huge drive and energy to make it happen, and their significant personal wealth. Many, many people contributed to the young park, but the names Eliot and Dorr and Rockefeller loom large in our minds. For decades the young park demanded relatively little of the federal government because these and other individuals were so committed to its development and upkeep. In fact, Acadia is the only National Park created exclusively and solely with land donated by private individuals.
However, it wasn’t long after Acadia’s 50th anniversary that funding for trail maintenance, carriage road upkeep, and similar essential work began to run short. The old guard had passed on and, while many Acadia- area residents and visitors had the love and the drive to protect this place, a new model was needed to direct private dollars to this public treasure. It took a new group of farsighted individuals to find the way to continue the amazing legacy of public/private partnership that had given us all the gift of Acadia, and to craft the tool through which all of us who love this place can be for Acadia what Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Dorr, and Mr. Eliot and others once were. That tool is Friends of Acadia.
Who are we?
We are TEAM FOA. We are all of you who love and appreciate Acadia! Friends of Acadia is comprised of many passionate individuals who pool their effort and resources to help protect and preserve Acadia National Park and the surrounding areas for the enjoyment of both the visitors of today and those of future generations.
Friends of Acadia can also be described as a world-class group of paid professionals supported and aided by a collection— an assemblage, if you like—of people who voluntarily donate their time, skill, and, yes, some of their money to provide the vision, leadership, horsepower (i.e., human effort), time, and financial resources to create, support, and champion efforts in partnership with the amazing Acadia National Park staff, other partners, or our own employees and volunteers to help protect and preserve this beloved and special place—Acadia National Park and the surrounding area— with a focus on the visitor experience and the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources.
How do we do what we do?
We are an independent organization working particularly closely with our primary partner, Acadia National Park, and also with other partners if that will help us to meet objectives more quickly, effectively, or efficiently. Sometimes park management comes to us with a need that cannot be achieved without FOA’s involvement, input, or fundraising. Sometimes we bring forth ideas that we work on together with the park, or on our own. We do not replace the federal government nor its obligation to Acadia National Park, and one of our jobs is to remind the government of that obligation.
Our approach can be well described as seeing a need, threat, or opportunity; then working to better understand the issue and discover and create possible solutions; then working with ANP staff to get the job done or help get it done.
We have adopted best-practice management tools with the FOA board and staff to a) conduct a strategic/situational analysis, and b) develop a focused strategic plan that includes program, staffing (paid and volunteer), and financial requirements.
The resources to do all this come from our members, volunteers, and supporters, working together.
Why do we do what we do?
The short answer is, love and passion. We are united in our love and passion for Acadia National Park. Love for the timeless beauty, the peaceful serenity, the healthy opportunities for hiking, biking, walking, climbing, contemplating, refreshing, and more.
Love for the opportunity the park offers to nurture relationships—with our families, our friends, and even ourselves—that deepen with each footfall or iron rung grabbed or whirr of a bike’s tire; with contemplation of a scenic view, sighting of a bald eagle or peregrine falcon, smelling a warm zephyr of pine scent, being overcome with the sound of the wind in the trees, or with silence, or with a brilliantly starry night sky that reminds us of our insignificance while enabling us to experience the sky as humans did when they first looked up.
Thank You for the role you play on TEAM FOA!
Our work is so unquestionably the work of a team, and everyone on the team counts and is so very important.
With you, and with the entire TEAM FOA, Friends of Acadia will continue its long history of importance, significance, and relevance to the preservation and protection of the beauty, health, and inspirational qualities that are Acadia National Park.
I know that “without you, there is no us.” Whether you are a volunteer, a donor, or other supporter, those achievements would not have happened without support from you and those like you. This is the time of year that Friends of Acadia reaches out to all members to ask them to renew their membership for another year. I hope that each of you who are a member will do so. I hope that those of you who are not yet members but enjoy this magazine and enjoy the park and will consider joining this year.
Thank you for sharing your love and appreciation for Acadia National Park.