From the President

From the President

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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From the President

From the President

Photo by Eric Bowles

Get Involved in GNPA

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to put 2020 behind me. GNPA has had a pretty good year, but it certainly had its challenges. We’re looking forward to better times in 2021 and beyond. As a result of cancelling the Expo and chapter meetings, GNPA revenue is down for 2020. But we were able to successfully trim insurance, rent and other charges, so we had a small surplus for the year. Our financial position is solid and we are moving forward.

Meanwhile, we’re starting to work on the annual election of officers and board members for GNPA.  This process is how we select the leaders to represent you and guide the strategy of GNPA. If you have an interest in becoming more involved, be sure to let us know. We’re especially looking for people with experience on other boards, or with relevant professional skills. We are lucky to have a lot of very talented business people involved in GNPA, and those professional backgrounds are very helpful.

We also need to help rotate some of the chapter coordinators out of their current role and into other positions within the organization. The chapter coordinator, co-coordinator and other leaders of our local chapters are critical to our member experience. Of course, the job of chapter coordinator is a lot easier when we have a team of people working together, and it’s another good way for members to get involved. We always are looking for people to help with membership, lead or coordinate field trips, plan chapter meetings and support communication (Meetup scheduling, email reminders, announcements, etc.). Many hands make light work, and it’s member involvement that makes our chapters successful and prevents great volunteers from feeling burned out. Please contact your chapter coordinator if you are willing to help out.

Finally, we have made the decision to cancel the Expo 2021 due to the ongoing risks associated with Covid-19. We have confirmed the dates and signed a contrast to hold the 2022 Expo at Jekyll Island on April 7-10, 2022. We hope it will be a more traditional Expo with some much needed in-person events. We do have a team of members working on a possible Virtual Expo later in 2021, and if you are interested in helping plan this concept, please let me know. We would like to have some input from members who have attended virtual conferences in the past. We are still planning to hold the Smokies event in November, 2021.

Thanks again for your continued support of GNPA.

 

 

 

 

From the President

From the President

Photo by Eric Bowles

Getting Out Again

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

We’ve just completed a very successful Smokies Weekend field trip. Thanks to Mike Thornton, Tricia Raffensperger and all the trip leaders and competition leaders who made this weekend such a terrific experience. While things have changed due to Covid, it was great to be outside again and have a chance to photograph some familiar locations.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee was exceptionally crowded – and that has been the case for months. We’re all looking for ways to get out and make photographs in nature, but recently that has often limited our travel to locations that are within driving distance. Fortunately, the Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway match that description for most of us.

There is no doubt things have changed. Across the country, conferences are largely on hold for now as we avoid large groups and meetings. Our Smokies event certainly had to adapt, and it felt different without the camaraderie of our large group meetings and photo competition. Travel to field locations was done in our individual vehicles – possibly with one other person – in order to maintain social distance and limit contact. But it was sure great being in the park and enjoying nature and photography. A lot of memories, stories and photos were created.

We’re going to use this experience to help us decide on a plan for the annual GNPA Expo in 2021. Many similar conferences are evolving into virtual events now. One of the big attractions of Jekyll Island as a conference site is that it provides so many photo opportunities. We could create an event that takes place mainly in the field, in order to limit gatherings. We could also consider a hybrid event, with field activities and virtual programming via Zoom. We’ll be asking for your input via survey later this month.

Before I close, I’d like to recognize the members who have joined our Communications team to help with the online blogs and newsletter. We now have more than 40 articles on the GNPA Blog, which can be accessed on our website. In addition, we have created the GNPA Newsletter, which offers additional content and feature articles which then become part of that website archive. Blog posts are updated on an ongoing basis, while the newsletter is produced every-other month. Our team – consisting of Tom Wilson, Ken Dunwoody, Armetrice Cabine, Cindi Kurczewski and Jamie Anderson – are responsible for coordinating the overall effort, selecting and assigning content, editing and posting the articles, and finding great photos to support those articles. Please join me in thanking them for all of their work on the newsletter and the blog. Make sure you check out those articles on our website, or when the GNPA newsletter hits your inbox.

Thanks for your continued support of GNPA.

 

From the President

From the President

See What’s New for GNPA

 

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

It’s been about six months since Covid-19 forced our organization to shut down chapter meetings and most in-person events. During that time, we’ve been working to reinvent GNPA in ways that will help it thrive in this new world.   

First, we’re updating and improving the GNPA website. When you visit our website (www.GNPA.org), you’ll find a new home page featuring some terrific images from GNPA members. You’ll also discover a new Blog page, which offers the ability to view current and archived posts from our blogs and newsletters. To make it even more useful, you can search this content by topic or keyword.

In place of chapter meetings, we’ve launched a webinar program using the Zoom platform. At this point we’ve delivered more than a dozen webinars, and those recordings are posted on the Member Home page. One great aspect of this approach is that it allows our members to virtually attend meetings from any chapter in the state, so you never have to miss an interesting speaker or topic. If you can’t watch the live webinar, you can always catch the recorded version at your convenience.  

Meanwhile, we see a lot of members who are eager to get outside and make photographs with other members. Jamie Anderson’s Jekyll Island astrophotography program sold out in just four days and had a waiting list. The Fall Smokies event (November 5-8) already has 50 people registered, but don’t worry, there is plenty of space available. The program has been revised this year to support social distancing and safe travel. Even more trips and programs are in the works, with the emphasis on regional travel. 

Don’t miss these opportunities. To register for events, sign up for webinars, listen to recordings or find out about other member activities, just click on the Member Login on the top right corner of the GNPA home page. After you log in, you’ll see your Member Home page with a list of member-only activities and programs at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for your continued support of GNPA.

— Eric Bowles

From the President – Welcome to Your Newsletter

From the President – Welcome to Your Newsletter

 

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

We are delighted to share with you the first issue of the GNPA newsletter. This is something we have wanted to provide our membership for a long time. The newsletter is intended to deliver valuable, practical information about photography, GNPA and your membership. And, of course, good photos.

 

We’ve had a great team, headed by Tom Wilson, working to build the GNPA Communications platform. This newsletter is the first big step.  We’re very lucky that Ken Dunwoody has agreed to be the editor of the publication. Ken has a wealth of experience as the editor of a number of outdoors-related magazines. The team also includes Brian Lucy, Stewart Woodard, Chris Dekle and Alfie Wace, all of whom have contributed articles and expertise. Brian is taking on the heavy lifting of leading the development of the newsletter format, layout and design. Our newsletter will feature plenty of member content, so thanks to all of our early contributors. Likewise, thanks to these team members for the hard work required to produce this first edition, and develop a platform for the future.

Raise your hand if you’re going to EXPO next year!

We were extremely disappointed, of course, that the 2020 GNPA Expo was cancelled. In light of Covid-19 and the threat of illness, we really had no choice. But it’s a shame, because Alfie Wace had done a terrific job in building the Expo program at Jekyll Island, and other GNPA members and speakers had put a great deal of effort into the preparations. We had a record number of registrants, a full schedule of sold-out workshops, and a great lineup of speakers. On the bright side, we’re rescheduling that Expo so that it can be held at Jekyll Island next year, and we can deliver the great program we planned – and more.  The new Expo dates are March 25-28, 2021. While this weekend does conflict with Passover and Palm Sunday, the other options all had serious conflicts or booking issues. Villas by the Sea will remain our host venue.

 

Coastal Chapter Social Distancing Manager

In addition to the Expo, Covid-19 has led to the cancellation of all in-person chapter meetings, at least through May, as well as field trips. However, we are beginning to ramp up a new webinar program that gives us the ability to offer both webinars and virtual chapter meetings. A couple of our chapters are testing these concepts in May, and we hope to develop a program for ongoing webinars that can supplement the chapter meetings. We’re planning to record and archive our webinars, so members will be able to access them later if they can’t attend the live event.

 

The GNPA Smokies event is still scheduled for this fall, with some minor modifications to support social distancing. The dates are November 5-8, 2020, so put it on your calendar now. Registration will open in a few of months, with Mike Thornton and Tricia Raffensperger leading that event.

In the meantime, stay safe and make your health the top priority. We’ll return to a new normal soon, and hopefully that will involve plenty of photography. Until then, if there is anything you need, don’t forget our good friends at Hunt’s Photo.

Enjoy the newsletter.

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

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