Sunrise at Jekyll Island, March 7, 2021. Photo by Eric Bowles

 

Despite Covid, A Year of Accomplishments

 

Eric Bowles
GNPA President

Wow, what a year! In the past 12 months, we’ve all had to adjust to massive changes related to Covid-19. But during that time, GNPA has adapted and made changes, so I’d like to update everyone on just how much we have accomplished.

The GNPA webinar program was launched in May 2020 to help provide information and outreach to our members. Since then, we’ve conducted nearly 50 webinars by a wide range of speakers from across the country. Most of those have been recorded, and we now have 36 programs available to members at anytime on the GNPA Member website. Thanks to all the speakers, chapter leaders and Lee Friedman for creating this webinar program while we could not meet in person.

The GNPA Newsletter and related Blog program were also launched last May. Tom Wilson helped kick off a communications strategy for GNPA that includes the newsletters, website, blog, video and social media. We are very lucky to have some great support from members, including Ken Dunwoody as newsletter editor, Armetrice Cabine, Cindi Kurczewski and Brian Lucy working on our Blog, Brian and Jamie Andersen tackling newsletter production, Alfie Wace and Lowell Sims managing our Facebook page, Lee Friedman handling our YouTube programs, and Chris Dekle continuing to work on the website and technology platforms. There have been many other members participating in these programs as well – too many to name here.  The result of these efforts has been the publication of six newsletters annually, more than 50 blog posts a year, and the addition of valuable fresh content on a regular basis to our members and the public via our website.

In the past year GNPA membership has declined slightly, but remains strong. Currently we have 639 individual members of GNPA, spread out through eight chapters around the state. Plus, we are continuing to attract more photographers with 30 new members in the past 90 days, despite the fact that we can’t meet in person or conduct our normal Meetup activities. Stewart Woodard has been the go-to person for our entire membership, managing the database and member renewals. Stewart has worked endless hours to clean up bad data, resolve renewal and access problems, and resolve a host of other issues. John Criminger has now volunteered to take over Stewart’s role heading the Membership Committee.

Our Conservation Committee remains very active in support of conservation programs and community partners. This year, the committee made it possible for members to contribute more than 1,000 photos to the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia DNR, which will help promote wildlife, conservation, the environment and parks across Georgia. In addition, GNPA members contributed over 800 images to other conservation partners and organizations in the state.

In spite of the Covid limitations, we are still making photos. Our members have created some great images, and we’ve seen those photos in a number of contests. In fact, GNPA members have submitted over 1,500 images in a range of competitions and gallery exhibits this year. The quality of work by GNPA members continues to improve and impress, while it highlights the natural beauty of Georgia and our adjoining states.

Financially, GNPA is in good shape. Due to Covid, we had to cancel the Expo and field trips, which contribute to the revenue we use to run the organization. That lost revenue was partially offset by the suspension of rental fees associated with chapter meetings, a reduction in insurance premiums, a reduction in chapter speaker fees, and conservative management of expenses. Collectively, we had a surplus of $4,565 for the calendar year. We continue to maintain adequate liquidity with cash reserves and adequate cash balances.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Board members, Chapter Coordinators and volunteers of GNPA. This is an all-volunteer organization, so we can only operate by having a large number of members who are willing to contribute their time and expertise. We try to run the organization professionally and efficiently to make good use of each person’s time. Our general approach is to include multiple people in each GNPA activity to help share the work and to make sure it remains fun.

We already have some great plans in place for next year and beyond. GNPA has a new contract for the 2022 Expo at Jekyll Island on April 7-10.  The keynote speaker will be renowned photographer Arthur Morris, who is also planning a multi-day workshop for GNPA members following the conference.

In lieu of our annual member meeting at the Expo, we’d like you to join us next month to celebrate the past year, provide some updates, and welcome the new GNPA Board members and officers. Please mark your calendar for a virtual GNPA Annual Meeting, scheduled for April 7, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. on Zoom. I hope to see you there.

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