Last fall, the Directors of the Boards of Mount Pisgah Arboretum and Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah approved the following joint resolution:
Resolved, Mount Pisgah Arboretum (Arboretum) and Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah (Friends) share common history and a desire to nurture and restore our connection to nature. Realizing this vision will depend on broader community engagement, greater resources and evolving collaborations. Therefore, the Boards of the Arboretum and the Friends (“Boards”) have resolved to work toward uniting the two entities into one organization over the next two years. The Boards encourage sustained community support for both groups as we combine our strengths, talents and commitment in service to a growing community and an extraordinary natural landscape.
For many years, people involved with the Arboretum and the Friends have had conversations about “reuniting” the two organizations. In 2021, all the stars aligned to formally begin the process. “Over the years, the missions of both organizations have evolved in similar directions,” says Arboretum Board Chair Karen Anderson. “From several important perspectives, our progress has converged to the point where the Arboretum and the Friends serve the public good in parallel ways and share many of the same goals. Also, the current stability of both organizations makes 2022 an ideal year to merge the two into one legal entity. And what better way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Buford Park!”
Friends Board President Steve Moore feels there are two key reasons for the two organizations to merge into a single nonprofit. “This smart decision will help us expand and enhance the public’s appreciation and knowledge of the greater Mount Pisgah ecosystem,” says Moore. “It also allows us to maximize the potential of our financial resources and the varied talents and experiences of our combined staff and volunteer networks.” The official name of the new organization has not been announced.
“Ultimately,” Moore added, “everyone involved is working to nurture and restore our connection to nature. We all share the goal of protecting and sustaining the flora and fauna of this precious landscape. Karen Anderson and I, and the members of both boards agree that we can better serve the broader community of the Eugene-Springfield-Pleasant Hill region by serving as a unified voice for the greater Mount Pisgah area.” Over the next year or so, both of the current Boards will merge into a single Board of Directors.
Janelle McCoy, the current Executive Director of The Friends, is confident that the reunion process will proceed smoothly. “We anticipate the most technical steps in the reunion process, for example gathering under a single tax ID number, will be completed in a little over a year.” McCoy explained that “other aspects of the process, such as completing a new strategic plan, branding and combining back-office systems, will likely take another year or so.”
Arboretum Executive Director Brad van Appel agreed, adding that “on a day-to-day basis, we foresee no sudden or significant changes to the current work load or programming of either entity. We do anticipate the new nonprofit to be able eventually to offer even more nature education, and community events, and to provide greater care for trails and natural areas.”
Brad van Appel went on to say that “while the Arboretum and the Friends have a shared history with similar missions, they have had independent roles. Reuniting will shift some responsibilities and clarify others. Looking ahead, the combined staff will adapt to a new organizational culture while they coordinate work plans and identify shared priorities.”
“We’re confident that reuniting the organizations will result in extra resources,” says Karen Anderson. “Such resources will help fund any new staff positions that may become necessary. For instance, additional staffing for areas in development, volunteer coordination, education, and park stewardship will likely be more feasible in the future.”
Anderson added, “We sincerely encourage all donors, large and small, to continue supporting both organizations in any way they can. We look forward to announcing to all our donor networks when they can begin supporting the new combined nonprofit 501(c)3.”
While the structure and enhanced staff responsibilities of the larger, reunited organization are still to be determined, there are no plans to eliminate any of the current staff positions. The organization will be led by a combined Board of Directors and co-managed by its current Executive Directors throughout the transition. All members of the reunited organization will be able to combine the benefits currently offered by both groups. There are no plans to increase the cost of membership at this time.
Donate to the Reunion Fund
The Reunion process will incur additional expenditures outside of normal operating costs for both organizations. As of January, 2022, the organizations have raised 20% of the funds anticipated to complete this process over the next two years. Please consider supporting an exciting new future for Mount Pisgah.