General News: Officer Reports

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At the annual national convention, League officers provide reports to attendees about issues ranging from finances and membership to long-term strategic planning. When the coronavirus pandemic forced the League to cancel the 2020 convention, leaders committed to sharing their perspectives with members using other means, including "Outdoor America."

Report of the Executive Board Chair, Jodi Arndt Labs

Jodi Arndt Labs

Usually at this time of the year I am welcoming our members to the national convention. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to cancel the convention. That meant I had to forego the excitement of looking forward to working with our members to shape the vision for the future. After all, the attendance and participation of our members are critical as we shape the vision of the League. Although we are not meeting in person this July, know that we are going to engage our members on League priorities during the coming year.

The Executive Board has focused on how we can seize the opportunities that have been presented to us. We continue to build off the success of the Clean Water Challenge. With the addition of two SOS coordinators, we trained more stream monitors and engaged more chapters and new partners. We also increased our social media presence on water quality issues. The League is more visible in the conservation arena as a direct result, and we have re-established our position as a leader on clean water issues.

The Executive Board devoted resources to support chapters in the R3 initiative (Recruit, Reactivate, Retain), which is a national effort to boost participation in fishing, hunting and shooting sports. It makes sense for Ikes to support the R3 initiative for purposes of increasing the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as this raises money for conservation. It is even more important to recognize the opportunity it presents to us as a conservation and outdoor recreation organization.

We are well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity to advance the League’s interests. After all, we have chapters across the country that provide shooting sport and fishing opportunities. Chapters can develop programs that fit their particular membership. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Chapters can take it beyond hunting and fishing and use the ideas behind the R3 initiative to promote and bring new audiences into outdoor recreational activities such as camping, kayaking, and bird watching. The goal should be to bring new participants into the outdoors so they can develop and gain an appreciation of the conservation issues we are all passionate about.

Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic opened new doors to potential audiences. As folks were confined to their homes, they were looking for new things to do, particularly outdoors. I have heard from several chapters who were receiving new membership inquiries from such individuals and I suspect that is the case for a number of our chapters. We need to seize that opportunity.

We also have been working hard to identify ways to improve communications with our members and engage more chapters and members in League activities, including examining ways we can increase participation at the convention. The Executive Board will be presenting bylaw revisions to the national directors for approval. The revisions will allow us to restructure the convention format to allow more members to attend and participate. We will be looking to reduce the amount of time that one needs to be present to conduct business, as well as open up opportunities for chapters and members to learn and share ideas. Keep an eye out for details over the coming months.

Take care and I hope to see you at next year’s convention, if not sooner.

Report of the National President, Kelly J. Kistner

Kelly Kistner

What an interesting last few months for the Izaak Walton League! First, I will greatly miss all my Ike family at this year’s national convention. But, for the safety and wellbeing of all our members who usually attend, it was a relief that the Executive Board and Maryland Division (this year’s host) were proactive in deciding to cancel the convention. If you have not heard, due to the cancellation, all our current officers and Executive Board members will be extended for another year of volunteer service.

One thing to keep in mind is that all our officers and staff are here to assist you with getting back to business in a safe manner. Currently, we are soliciting information from chapters that have resumed some normal operations asking how they accomplished the task. National staff have been working safely from home and alternating at the office to get the League’s business accomplished. I take my hat off to all the hard work that the staff and Executive Board have done—and continue to do—to assist chapters with questions. Remember that we are here for you!

Have you looked at the changes that have occurred on the national website? If not, check out the new content. Are you struggling setting up teleconferences? Look to the “Chapter Resources” tab on the home page for tips. We have held a few teleconferences so far this year and they have been well received. This is encouraging for the direction we are moving. I continue to network with a wide variety of chapters on Facebook and see how they are getting back to business safely.

I am looking forward to another year as president and will do my best to help us get through our current situation. The League is not only grassroots, bottom to top, but also information needs to travel both ways. We are always here to listen to your suggestions and concerns, no matter what the issue. As we near the 100th anniversary of the League, we need to look to the future and how we, as an organization, can remain strong and continue with our causes.

Until we see each other again, stay safe and wash your hands.

Report of the National Vice President, Vicki Arnold

Vicki Arnold

I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you today. Under normal conditions, I would be presenting my national vice president report to you at the July national convention. As I am sure is true for many of our members, I wish that were the case.

While chapters and divisions have had to make some modifications to how they communicate with each other, how they hold meetings or work on conservation projects, I think you will find there are many things that have not changed.

As a member of the League Executive Board, I can tell you the work of the Executive Board has continued as usual. Since many of our meetings are held via phone conference throughout the year, we were not required to make any modifications to those meetings.

Our work for 2020 began in December 2019 when the Executive Board reviewed and approved the 2020 budget proposal. Since the beginning of 2020, we have held phone conferences as needed to discuss a variety of items that could affect the success of the League’s mission.

In addition to my Executive Board responsibilities, I also participate in a monthly officer’s call with Scott Kovarovics, IWLA’s executive director. Items reviewed on those calls have included the League bylaws, with the focus of that review being the structure of the national convention, and new formats for keeping members informed on issues of importance to the mission and vision of the League. As a result of that discussion, quarterly conference calls hosted by Kelly Kistner, national president, and Jodi Labs, Executive Board chair, are now scheduled.

The first call, which was held in May, allowed chapter leaders across the country the opportunity to discuss their concerns regarding membership issues and the temporary closure of their chapters. These calls are a perfect opportunity for you to share ideas, ask specific questions to a group of your peers and to stay informed. I strongly encourage you to participate in these calls and share your thoughts. Watch your email for information regarding future quarterly conference calls.

While we may have taken some time away from our chapters this past spring, the conservation efforts in Iowa and throughout the Midwest did not shut down. Many of our chapters found ways to continue to engage their members and their communities.

Iowa, like other divisions, has seen an increased interest in our message and our programs during the past several months. Individuals and organizations have reached out to us asking for information on our water testing programs, our hiking trails and our outdoor shooting sports. Individuals are showing an increased interest in the environment around them so I believe the League’s message is as strong as ever.

I want to thank you for your effort in sharing our message with those around you. Continue to stay safe and enjoy the outdoors whenever you can.

Report of the National Treasurer, Scott Meyer

Scott Meyer

The financial information in this report is based on audited reports for 2019.

Total revenue is up just over one-half of one percent, with individual contributions and government grants higher than budgeted. Total expenses are below budget due to position vacancies and cost management by staff.

Budget Actual Change
Total Support and Revenue 2,619,200 2,634,013 .6%
Transfer 226,948 0 0
Total Expenses 2,737,199 2,578,895 (5.8%)

Investments were up 14.5% up at the end of 2019 and were down 10.6% on May 27, 2020. The IWLA continues to follow a conservative investment strategy that will fluctuate with the markets. Merrill Lynch, which manages the League’s investments, has advised that market performance is highly variable due to the coronavirus pandemic and the presidential election in 2020. The totals reported below include the permanently restricted (meaning the balance cannot be spent) IWLA Trust, which has a current balance of $1,075,971.50.

Merrill Lynch 2017 2018 2019 June 2020
Cash/Money Market 83,760 70,768 123,310 22,836
Investments 2,276,850 2,112,173 2,429,994 2,260,682
Total 2,360,610 2,182,942 2,553,304 2,283,518

The audit is complete as of this report. The IWLA has once again received a “clean” audit. The auditors recommended we look at our procurement processes and we have already engaged with them to assist us with procurement policies.

A Final Word from Executive Director, Scott Kovarovics

Scott Kovarovics

Like many of our national leaders, I will miss seeing League members at the annual convention. Canceling the convention was the right thing to do—as I pen this in late June, large indoor gatherings are still banned in Maryland, travel is challenging and protecting the health of our members remains paramount.

It is still disappointing to me not to have the convention. Although putting on a convention is a lot of work for staff, being with members from across the country is reinvigorating, fun and inspirational. If you are a regular attendee, I know you share these feelings. If you have never attended, I couldn’t encourage you more strongly to attend in the future.

2020 has been unprecedented on so many levels. Yet, we see the resilience of the American people and the commitment of League members, chapters, leaders and staff to achieve our mission in spite of the challenges we face. Until next year, take care.

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