It Takes a Village (of dedicated, passionate helpers)
As many of you know, the National Bison Association (NBA) is currently undergoing a significant organizational transition, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 20 years. With the departure of longtime Executive Director Dave Carter, as well as its Director of Development, Eloise Mongillo, in May, the NBA has been working double-time to keep the ship upright and moving in the right direction while we fill out the NBA staff and continue our important work.
Despite the many challenges that have sprung up in the bison business since May, we are forging ahead at full speed. These hurdles include, but are not limited to, the United States Congress mandating that the USDA facilitate listening sessions about whether bison should become an amenable species, ongoing drought in buffalo country, the publishing of groundbreaking bison genetic research, and the NBA’s ambitious outreach activities targeting consumers and producers this summer. There has not been a lull in our work.
Our success in recent months can be attributed to the tireless efforts of the current NBA staff and our dedicated volunteers. Everyone has had to take on new and different duties while we search for an additional full-time employee to round out the team. We hope our continued efforts to keep moving forward are evident to the NBA membership and our colleagues.
Being a national organization, we often get puzzled looks when NBA members and others ask about our staffing, and we explain that we have the equivalent of two full-time employees. The NBA being a nonprofit, collaboration and doing work outside your job description comes with the territory, but our staff has taken that arrangement to a new level. As such, I wanted to take a chance to recognize these efforts, particularly those of our bookkeeper, Barb Dowdy, and our Director of Communications, Karen Conley, for assisting me with keeping things afloat. Barb works part-time as our bookkeeper, Karen works under an NBA contract to essentially write and edit Bison World magazine, and I, as executive director, am full-time. Barb and Karen have been tasked with new duties that I no longer have time to do as executive director, and they have both taken on these new tasks with aplomb. I thank them for their dedication and performance in these challenging times.
I also want to recognize the efforts of our many volunteers, from our board of directors to our committee chairs and members. NBA President, Chad Kremer, is a prime example and definition of a great leader and volunteer, working tirelessly and making himself available to any given NBA project. NBA Region II Director, Moritz Espy, attended the recent summer conference of the Montana Bison Association to update the group on NBA and industry activity. NBA Secretary/Treasurer, Kevin Leier, hosted the NBA’s inaugural Regenerative Ranching Workshop that same weekend. Newly appointed Commercial Market Committee Chair, Dick Gehring, has taken personal time and expense to attend the aforementioned amenable listening session and advise on the matter.
If you come across any of these folks, please take a moment to shake their hand and say thanks for your efforts because these can be thankless jobs that are vital to maintaining a healthy and growing herd. It truly does take a village! A village of dedicated, hardworking, passionate individuals, to be exact.
And there is light at the end of this tunnel. I have received over 50 applications for the Program Manager position that we hope to start on August 1st. The NBA is performing very well financially, membership is growing and we’re managing to keep up with our many projects and activities. Thank you, Karen and Barb, our many volunteers, and the NBA membership for weathering the storm while offering us your grace and patience as we see this through.
There are some great things on the horizon for the NBA and the bison, and we’re well on our way to seeing them through!