Looking back on the year, I cannot help but have some pride of the conservation community for all that we have accomplished. And it has been a year of so much growth for Heartland Conservation Alliance.
This past year, our Board doubled in size and talent, growing from three in our first year to nine today. We added a full-time staff member and hosted a paid summer intern, growing our team from one in our first year to five today. Our annual operating expense leaped considerably as we secured several new contracts and grants, growing from $30,000 our first year to $600,000 today. And beginning in the New Year, I have accepted the position of Executive Director to lead ourorganization as we step into our fifth year. However, growth for the sake of being bigger isn’t worth anything. Rather our growth has been to build a strong and solid base for future conservation. Our stewardship training program will expand into a new community next year, we will hold our first conservation easement, we will begin restoring vacant lots and we will again provide leadership as the Ambassador for the Middle Blue Rivers Urban Water Partnership. All of this matters because natural areas, open space, and habitat always remain important to our community and future generations. Natural areas make our water cleaner, give us places to play, protect life and property, provide sanctuary and preserve our cultural heritage. We believe in the power of partners and we collaborate with a network of public and private organizations and agencies that share these goals, values, and objectives. We build support through public outreach and education. Our commitment to place and people remains steadfast. For the values and commitment we held prior to the challenging time we face today, are the very same values that motivate us now. For more than five years, with your ample support, we are steadily putting regional conservation plans into action. Through your generosity, we have accomplished so much this year, and looking ahead, we pledge to work hard, remain vigilant and stay true to the values that define us. Your support means so much. Remember Heartland Conservation Alliance in your year-end giving and visit ourwebsite here where you can simply and confidentially donate. Also, be sure to take part in our partnership survey to help us improve our organization so we can continue to be a greater asset to you. Best wishes for the holiday season. Jill Erickson Executive Director and Co-Founder