In April, I submitted my resignation to the Center for Northern Woodlands Education board after a great deal of soul-searching and examination of options. Since joining the staff in January 2010, I’ve divided my time between the office in Corinth, Vermont, and my home upstate in Derby; the challenge of maintaining that schedule was the major factor in my decision. It has been an honor for me to have been associated with an organization that affects so many people and so many woodlands.
Transitions like this produce mixed emotions. One aspect that feels good is the fact that Northern Woodlands is on solid footing. Organizational consultants will point out that the transition period following a founder’s departure is often filled with turmoil, but thanks to the hard work and goodwill of everyone involved, we’ve had smooth sailing. I’m pleased that in my tenure, two long-standing publishing projects – the New York edition of The Place You Call Home and the recently released More Than A Woodlot – came to fruition. Staff members and a new web consultant have upgraded much of our website’s infrastructure and positioned us to make the site a greater resource for our readers. We established the half-time position of assistant editor to strengthen our capabilities with both print and online media. And with thanks to a number of generous donors, we created the Northern Woodlands Research and Reporting Fund that will support the editorial team in taking on special projects that a slim operating budget would not otherwise permit.
What feels less positive is the realization that I’ll be ending the phone conversations and connections with readers who made contributions and who kindly took my calls of thanks. Whether in California, Texas, North Carolina, New York City, or closer to home in New England, our readers have stories to share about the land and wildlife they care for. I’ll miss these stories, and the meetings that I’ve had with readers at the various venues and conferences I attended to promote the organization. Within minutes of establishing the Northern Woodlands connection with a visitor to our exhibit booth, a stranger became a friend – we belonged to the same tribe. Those brief encounters always offered a meaningful boost.
Transitions may present difficulties, but they also offer an organization the opportunity to fine-tune its infrastructure to meet an ever-changing landscape; this can be especially important for organizations in the publishing and non-profit worlds. Like a rare plant, Northern Woodlands fills a special niche that thousands of you value and support. That’s the vital foundation of our work. I can report that the Board of Directors is fully engaged in guiding the transition and that a remarkably talented staff is geared up to carry on operations in full-speed mode and to keep the alchemy bubbling.