Written by Colleen Robinson
Recently, we intentionally touched base with members through a Guild member survey. Thank you to everyone who shared thoughts, ideas, and offers to contribute. The survey responses are rich, informative, engaging, and we are so grateful. One of our Guild principals is about remaining humble. We want you to know that we hear you, we learn from you, and we all have an amazing community where we can keep asking our questions and making a difference. Collaboration and community remain strong in the Guild. A snapshot of the wealth of responses follows, and we hope you find it interesting and encouraging.
Our top goals for the survey were to:
- Find out if what we offer and how we offer it to members is desirable and helpful.
- Explore what is missing, from our members’ perspectives, regarding the experience of membership in the Guild or the work the Guild does.
- Prioritize next steps with input from members on what is most important.
- Recruit support and assistance for getting more good work done collaboratively within this community, in win-win scenarios.
What we learned…
Our survey respondents:
The Survey went out to all members and was completed by 144 respondents, 78% of whom were professional members. 29 states and every region were represented. Most respondents were mid to late career and respondents were evenly distributed among membership age classes.
Not surprisingly, in our unique and learning community, when asked about the top three most valuable things about the Guild, 81 percent of respondents said, “Being part of an organization that shares my values.” Over 70% of respondents indicated the next two important values were “Connection to like-minded stewards” and “Learning opportunities” (see chart below).
Meeting Member’s Needs
We asked about the top four ways the Guild can serve members better. Respondents focused on regional in-person events (71%), technical trainings (44%), information resources (39%), online events (37%), and efforts to increase diversity in forestry and conservation (32%). It is worth noting that national meetings were only in the top four things we can do to serve members better for 16% of respondents and policy for 29% of respondents.
Communicating with Members
In general respondents felt our e-newsletter (86%, monthly) and magazine (73%, twice per year) are sent at a good frequency. Most respondents had no opinion about social media posts.
Most respondents were interested in quarterly (26%) or semi-annual (37%) regional conference calls. Similarly, most respondents were interested in monthly (36%) or quarterly (46%) webinars and annual (30%) or semi-annual (49%) in-person field events. Interest in attending meetings is inspired by the agenda and content (79%) followed by distance (62%) and relevance to day-to-day work (42%).
When asked what are the top four most pressing stewardship topics that you would like to learn more about, discuss, and work on, respondents focused primarily on climate smart forestry (75%) followed by perceptions of forestry in the general public (52%), carbon forestry (50%), invasive species response (41%) and building a diverse and inclusive stewardship community (40%).
Again, this is just a snapshot of what you shared. We received many thoughtful free-form comments and great ideas that we are considering along with the quantitative results. We also feel that answers in the minority hold great value, even though we didn’t report them in this summary. And although we don’t encourage “silos” in our work, we are paying attention to any regional nuance we find in the survey patterns of responses. We intend to continue learning and sharing from your responses as we go. Together, we will continue to expand our view, our perspectives, and our positive impact as we cultivate our best work in putting the forests first.
Already, Guild staff are busy connecting with members who want to and can help now, to improve our strategies and address the needs and topics you help us identify or confirm. Examples include planning for more opportunities to gather in each region, expanding active student involvement at the organizational level, and exploring how we can more effectively support a healthier future for forests not just directly, but through the impact of our stories and demonstrations. Our members’ abundant offers to help will make all of this more possible.
Thank you for all you do, and stay tuned!