Written by Amanda Mahaffey and Colleen Robinson
In December, Guild staff convened from all corners of the country for a two-day retreat designed to build staff cohesion and create the space for important, team-building conversations needed to set us up for success in 2020 and beyond. From Maine and New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota, we descended on the Loveland office to all meet face-to-face for the first time. We enjoyed some goofy fun and a lot of hard work together.
We began with the Guild tradition of an introduction circle. We lined up in order of tenure on staff at the Guild and worked our way around the circle, sharing our stories of how we each connected with the Guild. It was clear that the “spark” that inspires our members also inspired our staff to join the Guild team. The work of the Guild is different from that of many environmental NGOs. Our ecological focus in boots-on-the-ground management attracted many of our staff to the Guild. This introduction circle also revealed the timeline of growth in the Guild. A few years ago, nearly all staff were based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Today, we have teams in the Southwest, Intermountain West, and Southeast, and regional staff in the Pacific West, Lake States, and Northeast. Many of our staff are fire-trained, which reflects the current national need to restore fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, including millions of acres of forest stewarded by Guild members and our colleagues at work across the landscape.
It was an intense couple of days with an ambitious agenda and each staff member taking the lead on a topic with the group. The opportunity to speak our successes, challenges, goals, constraints, and ideas with incredibly creative and talented minds all in one room was powerful. Strategies came forward that were previously unseen. New perspectives laid the groundwork for improved systems and better understanding and communication within our programs. Prioritizing goals in context for our 25th anniversary year and beyond got a stronger-than-ever start collaboratively. We also fit in some social time cooking meals at the Air BnB, chatting with local Guild members and partners at a local brewhouse, and walking on the trails near the office. Overall, we felt energized by taking the time to meet in person and share the “spark” that fires us up in our work for the Forest Stewards Guild.
We look forward to a productive year of engaging with our members, partners, and fellow forest stewards in 2020! This is the Guild’s 25th anniversary, and we celebrate everything and everyone who makes us who we are, collectively.