Following a period of unprecedented growth, the ACRES Board of Directors chose to focus the 2018-2019 Strategic Plan on evaluation. This time of reflecting together allowed us to prepare for continued growth. Here’s what we found, and how we’ve responded.
ACRES founders spelled out, in a details half-page statement, how our mission would be achieved. Today, with 60 years of history, the ACRES mission statement has been refreshed to clarify the essentials of our original mission.
New, clarified statement: ACRES Land Trust owns and protects natural and working lands, inspiring people to value, appreciate, and support these places, for the benefit of all – today and forever.
Words matter. A few worth pondering:
“Owns” tells how we protect land. ACRES holds the deed to ensure permanent protection. We will never sell or transfer land we promise to protect.
“Working lands” clarifies that, in addition to natural places, ACRES protects land such as farmland and timber stands. (“working lands” is not widely understood; your help getting the word out will make a difference.)
“For the benefit of all” sums up why we protect land and why protecting land works. Vital natural places are critical to the wellbeing of all communities: the lives of humans, plants and animals are linked. Diverse motivations for protecting natural places and working lands come together, achieving more than we can measure.
“Today” is an essential prompt to take action. Without your participation right now, natural places existing today have little chance to thrive forever.
ACRES is responsible for caring for more places. Recent growth brought our total protected land from 5,000 acres in 2014 to over 7,000 by 2019. In five years, ACRES total land owned grew 40 percent.
In response to our lands’ growing demands, and making use of Patricia Barrett’s bequest to our land management endowment established by her late husband, Jim Barrett, a founder of ACRES, we added a second full-time position.
In addition, to further bolster land management efforts (especially efficiency in tackling non-native invasive plants), ACRES purchased during this five year period our first-ever heavy equipment: a skid steer, a forestry mulcher, a trailer, and a new heavier-capacity truck to haul it all. This equipment brings a tremendous shift in capacity to our work. With your support, ACRES is renewed by these efforts: we are helping our lands heal at a much faster pace.
ACRES’ service area was expanded into Cass County, IN, and narrowed to the first counties into Ohio and Michigan.
ACRES serves a 27-county area.
Because ACRES is a marriage of land and the people who value it, we have reorganized into two main division: Land Management and Advancement. We protect land, and we serve people who help protect it.
To achieve this focus, ACRES integrated two areas into Advancement: fund development and communications and marketing/outreach; and ACRES added a new advancement support position. This shift firmly roots all outreach activities in philanthropy: supporting people in their service to the land.
Following decades of declining participation in member voting, and observation of nonprofit trends, the ACRES Board of Directors voted to amend our bylaws and articles of incorporation, switching from a member-governed to a board-governed organization.
As the epicenter of a 7,000-acre (and growing) nonprofit serving people in 27 counties, the ACRES office is a hub of activity. After six decades of making do, ACRES is ready to create a modest campus – a headquarters for our work. Giving our work the space it deserves will further clarify our forever promise: ACRES is here to stay, and these lands aren’t going to protect themselves.
We are building a new barn for field work; remodeling the Dustin home for office accessibility, customer service and function; and creating an accessible trail with a Cedar Creek overlook to invite more people to appreciate and enjoy nature’s majesty. Plans also include space to welcome land lovers to gatherings – a real home for the folks who are making this work possible, and for those who will join us.