Mohonk Preserve Strategic Plan: Vision 2020 and Beyond
Through a series of workshops beginning in autumn 2017, Mohonk Preserve undertook a participatory strategic planning process which included board, staff and external stakeholders. The following plan is a result of this collaborative effort to identify the strategic intention, principles, and realization goals that will guide Mohonk Preserve through 2020 and beyond.
Mohonk Preserve will foster conservation, deepen connections, be inclusive, and nurture resilience to fulfill our mission to protect the Shawangunk Mountains region and inspire people to care for, enjoy and explore their natural world.
The Preserve will focus our work on the following four principles:
We will advance land protection, science-based land management, environmental monitoring and research, and place-based education and interpretation to foster a strong conservation ethic and ensure our natural lands help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
We will deepen people’s connection to the Preserve and emphasize the importance of conservation through a wide variety of recreational, educational and cultural experiences in nature for our members, visitors and the broader community.
We will pursue cultural competency and inform our decisions, policies and programs with the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, dismantle barriers to become an organization more representative of our changing community, and nurture a welcoming environment for all people.
We will invest in our organization to become a more supportive and resilient workplace, balance resources and opportunities, and align capacity so that one of our most valued assets — our excellent staff — can succeed and thrive.
We will research and document information about the natural environment of the Shawangunk Ridge, provide access to the scientific information we produce, promote connections to a variety of research user groups, and further engage the general public through citizen science.
- Engage in natural history study of the Shawangunk Ridge and its forests, fields, watershed, and cliff communities
- Promote science-based land management initiatives
- Provide information for the public about conservation efforts at Mohonk Preserve
- Engage in citizen science and public programs to connect with a wide audience
- Reach out to and engage with diverse communities through citizen science programs and volunteer activities
- Provide research and mentorship opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds through internships
- Review our methods and protocols to improve rigor while maximizing efficiency
- Actively pursue financial support for personnel and equipment from a diverse set of opportunities
We will deepen our learning continuum for all ages with special emphasis on curriculum development, sharing conservation science stories, engagement of underserved audiences, and creating new internship opportunities, resulting in new and authentic partnerships within diverse communities.
- Interpret conservation science stories for students and the general public through the lens of climate change curricula, an exhibit and a mobile app
- Develop early program opportunities in the Foothills with the Brook Farm House serving as an education program facility
- Create models for entry-level employment of our middle and high school students, including internships and seasonal work
- Create new partnerships to enhance programming for underserved audiences through outreach, school and public programs
- Enhance visitation by underrepresented communities by subsidizing facility use fees, promoting library pass program, and exploring other avenues
- Focus staff capacity on top initiatives
- Manage external demands through improved processes, such as the review process for events and proposals, which empower staff to prioritize decisions
We will work diligently to protect the Preserve’s lands for future generations, meeting or exceeding the standards of an accredited land trust. We will support strategic, criteria-based growth of conserved lands through donation, acquisition or other conservation tools.
- Identify, monitor and protect the lands held in trust by the Preserve
- Update baseline documentation reports to meet best management standards
- Implement tools to track property management plan results, volunteer accomplishments, scientific investigations and reporting, and map the unique attributes of each conservation area
- Undertake innovative projects which will conserve land, generate sustainable revenue, and endow long-term protection of lands
- Embrace projects that enhance regional connectivity
- Engage adjoining property owners and partners to identify and prioritize lands for protection
- Update educational materials to better inform target audiences of the conservation tools to protect regional lands
- Communicate annually with our easement holders to ensure conservation values are cordially maintained
- Build staff capacity by seeking additional support to further endow the Land Protection program and provide a permanent funding source for protecting our conserved land in perpetuity
We will steward the Preserve’s protected lands guided by science and natural- area management best practices. We will maintain the facilities, carriage roads, trails, and vistas that provide opportunities to explore the Preserve. We will engage our constituency with knowledge, inspiration and professionalism.
- Create an updated, comprehensive management plan for maintaining Preserve lands
- Plan for and implement a strategic new agricultural and grassland management plan for the Mohonk Preserve Foothills
- Implement the Mohonk Preserve Foothills Project to welcome members, visitors and community residents to this new Preserve experience
- Continue training of trailhead assistants and rangers to enhance the visitor experience
- Achieve accreditation by the Mountain Rescue Association to continue the rangers’ leadership in vertical rescue
- Evaluate outdoor recreation opportunities to reflect evolving community interests and needs
- Update trail maps and wayfinding tools to include new lands and trails
- Evaluate each Preserve entry point to enhance visitor experience, education and inclusion
- Connect with community organizations through volunteerism and seek opportunities to reach diverse audiences
- Engage underrepresented members of the community, particularly people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of all abilities
We will plan, direct, and coordinate services and resources that support staff, members and programs to advance the organization’s impact.
- Utilize technology to deliver an enhanced member & visitor experience that meets current and evolving expectations
- Create a staff-driven Diversity and Inclusion Task Force
- Train full staff in equity and inclusion with an emphasis on implicit bias
- Encourage and support diverse affinity groups
- Prioritize opportunities based on mission-impact
- Foster staff resilience to create a supportive workplace environment
- Set the pace and volume of initiatives to ensure quality outcomes
- Invest in capacity to meet growing technology demands
- Enhance employee job satisfaction, skills and workplace productivity through more focused training, team-building and recognition to support the employee experience
- Improve human resources and administrative capacity to deliver new initiatives that enhance the workplace culture
We will communicate broadly and inclusively to encourage people of all ages, abilities and cultures to experience and support Mohonk Preserve and our conservation mission.
- Publicize Preserve conservation science and stewardship initiatives and other opportunities for public participation
- Participate in community events and invite community participation in Preserve events
- Promote, encourage and attract broader participation in the Preserve
- Expand multi-lingual communications via our website, social media and marketing
- Foster and facilitate active and transparent communication among staff at all levels
We will connect with people who share our values of conservation, research, education, recreation, and equitable access to nature, and find meaningful ways for them to engage and invest in our mission.
- Strengthen bonds with our volunteers through meaningful projects that advance our conservation mission
- Deepen our conservation mission message, particularly within the climbing community
- Forge deep and authentic connections with our donors that honor their long-lasting commitment to the organization
- Enhance our relationships with our members, providing relevant information and meaningful opportunities for greater engagement and support
- Create opportunities through purposeful events and activities for people to come together to celebrate their connection to the Preserve
- Reduce socio-economic barriers to use
- Embrace inclusion to build broad-based community support
- Increase financial resources to drive organizational sustainability
- Restructure the Preserve’s membership model at all levels to increase efficiency and annual giving potential, and to better support the mission of the Preserve
- Acknowledge the importance of our volunteers and expand opportunities for their engagement in all areas of our work
Over the next few years, Mohonk Preserve will focus our efforts on two key priority initiatives, which embody the Preserve’s strategic principles. Their completion will be a key indicator of mission alignment and strategic success.
Mohonk Preserve Foothills
During 2018 through 2021, the Preserve will be deeply engaged in creating our first new trailheads in 25 years on the site of the largest acquisition in our history – the 836-acre Mohonk Preserve Foothills. This multi-faceted project will engage and impact every program and department at the Preserve as we create infrastructure, establish programs and provide recreational opportunities in the Foothills.
After completing an extensive planning and approval process, the Preserve is poised to break ground on the Testimonial Gateway Trailhead, which will provide safe, managed access to the Mohonk Preserve Foothills for education, research and outdoor recreation for people of all ages and abilities. This will be followed by the creation of trailheads at Lower Duck Pond Road and the Humpo Marsh area. These new entry points, along with additional amenities throughout the property, set in motion an ambitious plan to improve access and enhance visitor experience.
With the Mohonk Preserve Foothills, we have a transformative opportunity to unite the valley and the ridge, and bring the Preserve to more people through expanded and inclusive experiences on gentle, accessible terrain. From a leisurely stroll through the Pin Oak Allee to a bike ride along the Foothills’ River-to-Ridge Trail Loop, visitors will enjoy new ways to get into nature at Mohonk Preserve.
Constituent Data & Commerce Integration Initiative
In 2018, the Preserve launched a Constituent Data and Commerce Integration Initiative to determine our needs for organization-wide automation and integration of constituent data and commerce systems, prioritize those needs, and determine an implementation process and budget.
In positive news, the Preserve has seen the number of contributions and memberships processed per year increase steadily since 2008; however the number of staff and types of technology used to process these transactions has not increased. Additionally, the Preserve has several internal databases that are not integrated, creating double and triple entry. Externally, our members and visitors aren’t able to access self-serve kiosks or enjoy the advantages of digital membership cards.
We are currently engaged in the assessment phase of this multi-year effort, working with consultants who will provide us with both technology and process recommendations that will improve both customer service and staff capacity.
Next steps will include an implementation phase, where software is selected after a rigorous evaluation process and brought online, hardware and infrastructure are updated to meet efficiency standards, internal business processes are aligned to new capabilities, and staff and volunteers are trained and supported on the new systems. The result will be heightened levels of efficiency, data integrity and visitor/member service.
To download a PDF version of Mohonk Preserve’s strategic plan, please click here.
Photo by Gerald Liddelow