“One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.”
— John Maxwell
Partner is a word often used to describe relationships between government agencies and associations such as GLTPA. I wonder though, if the meaning of the word is truly understood or if it is simply a buzz word like “sustainability.” Thinking back a few months about the marketing work being done by the “Real Hardwood Promotion Coalition,” the research showed that while many people use the word “sustainable”, they do not know what it means.
For this article two definitions of the word “Partner” are presented. The following definitions come from “Dictionary.com” as follows: 1-a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor; sharer; associate. 2. Law. A person associated with another as a principle or a contributor of capitol in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits.
Both definitions can apply to the relationship between government agencies and associations. Citizens pay tax dollars which in turn, are used to fund public agencies. Associations represent groups of like-minded taxpayers whose cumulative thoughts are represented proactively in a coordinated manner ensuring the interests of its members are presented in a variety of settings. This is the main reason why loggers, log truckers and forest industry folks would be well served by participating as members of associations. Strength does come in numbers. For example, there is one nationwide/ international organization with over one million members. The funding from these million members has afforded this organization to be involved in natural resource issues to the point they have great influence and have gone as far as to organize an agency briefing on the agencies budget structure. Several state-run departments use tools developed by this organization for location of endangered species and the like.
The point is this; being partners is the best way to maximize positive outcome. The moment we work alongside one another coordinated as partners is when the association gets all your influence, and you get all the associations influence. The association gets all your networking and you, as a member, get all the associations networking. In other words, new avenues are opened to one another. Not because it is earned or deserved, but because a partnership has been forged. “Partnership” is great word and if we are to achieve great things, solid partnerships used to the fullest extent must be formed. A true partnership holds nothing back from its partners. The same should be true when organization are stated as being partners with government agencies. Consider this; apart from personnel issues, do government agencies share all their information, develop plans and strategies, or inform their partners of what they are thinking about before action is taken? From my experience they do not, and the partnership is immediately questioned by the association as being one of false pretense.
On the flip side, perhaps the agency is rating its partnership based on what it thinks the association can offer in terms of benefit to the agency. Clearly a million-member organization offers much more to the agency/organization partnership than local organizations. This fact is abundantly clear by the involvement between the million-member organization and state and federal agencies. It is a fact that is not going unnoticed and puts in question motives of the agencies regarding control of the nation’s resources along with conservation and use of those resources. In many ways it appears as though there may be a movement toward privatization of the nation’s natural resources, and it is no secret money is key to this influence. Do you think there are options for involvement based on a budget of one million members at a minimum of $50.00 per member annually? Truth be told, I for one am a bit jealous and would love to see the forest industry in the same position as the million-member organization. Is there a good reason why the forest industry should not be in a better position with greater influence? As was made clear during the entire period of the pandemic with the shortage of certain types of paper, society is dependent on trees, sustainable forest management and the forest industry for its comfortable existence.
Perhaps industry is still so busy playing defense regarding perceived unacceptable past management practices, that it has not yet switched its focus entirely to the benefits it brings society with healthy managed forests. Regardless, excuses are abundant, and the evidence is clear that industry itself, starting with nonmember loggers and log truckers, is not supportive of their own industry. How is this known you ask? The Wisconsin logger training database alone contains 17,749 individual records which is primarily loggers with the balance being log truckers, foresters and a handful others who earn their income from forest management. Keep in mind this database does not include Michigan or Minnesota however, of the 1,000 GLTPA members on record approximately 700 are loggers and truckers. That leaves 17,049 who do not support their industry. Still wonder why industry does not have a higher level of influence.
In addition, I can assure you the million-member organization receives a healthy sum of funding through endowments and philanthropic gifts of money. To the best of my knowledge GLTPA, nor FISTA, or the ST. John Education Fund (except for the first donation to start the fund) has ever received such a gift to ensure the long-term viability of forest industry representation. After checking into an endowment, they are somewhat expensive to set up and the question at hand is, would it be used if available? It may be a good way to leave a legacy and give back to an association and industry which continues to provide substantial representation for the cause of healthy forests and access to them.
So how can the level of influence be enhanced? As shown by results of a major organization, influence comes at a cost with a massive membership playing a key role in paying the price. For GLTPA to reach a higher level of influence within in the organization and provide more support for others who follow the same ethical principles, funding needs to increase. The first step is to gauge whether members are satisfied with their current representation or if they would like their level of influence increased. The challenge is this; by the time this article is printed every GLTPA logger and log trucker member will be mailed a new member application. Since loggers and log truckers are in the first three steps of forest management (1. Trees 2. The management plan, 3. Harvesting/hauling) your level of contentment will be gauged by your participation in gaining new members. If you want your level of influence increased, sign up a new member. If you do not want your level of influence increased do nothing. It is just that simple. In other words, do what has always been done and get what has always been got. On the other hand, if a change is needed, then make a change. Either way we all live with the results.
For the first time ever American loggers and log truckers who are a big part of the forest industry, are now recognized at the national level in the recent COVID relief package passed by Congress in December. This achievement was made possible by a coordinated effort between members of American Loggers Council (including GLTPA) and countless hours of aggressive communications with legislators by association representatives who relentlessly did their work so loggers and log truckers could continue doing theirs. If it was done once it can be done again. With more influence, goals can be achieved quicker, more effectively and with a greater degree of success than before.
While the member challenge is being implemented, GLTPA board and staff continue investigating other avenues with which to generate association income which in turn will provide additional member benefits. If there is interest an endowment will be put in place. Marketing the benefits of GLTPA will increased as well. As many of you know GLTPA/FISTA and the St. John Education Fund have done an outstanding job partnering with Discover Media Works to promote the forest industry. One would think that should have garnered interest in becoming part of GLTPA. That has not been the case and it is time to implement the PDCA approach. In case you are wondering PDCA is Plan, DO, Check and Adjust. Call this an adjustment and you as members are part of it.
It would be an understatement to say 2020 has been a challenging year but we believe, and history shows, every challenge provides opportunity. With the benefits this industry provides to society there is no reason in the world organizations like GLTPA should not have a more significant level of influence.
On a final note, I want to thank outgoing GLTPA President Sparky Enstrom for his leadership over the last two years and congratulate Matt Jensen, Whitetail Logging for being elected President for 2021 and 2022. Sparky held the bar high for himself to be engaged and attended dozens of meetings during his term as president. I know Sparky feels very appreciative that he works for an organization which allowed him the time necessary to do the job according to his high standard of involvement. As I write jokingly, Sparky loved writing his monthly articles despite the fact Covid threw a monkey wrench in the standard schedule of Presidential articles. Until formation of the Timber Professionals Cooperative came along and the discussion of retuning the Green Bay for the Logging Expo emerged, finding other topics to write about was a bit challenging. All I can say is you did it Sparky!! Congratulations!
As a sign of things to come Matt wasted no time in submitting his first article which provided great hope to Mindy, GLTPA Communications Coordinator, that her job might be a little less stressful in that she may not have to send as many reminders to get his articles. She now has only me to deal with! As most of you know Matt, he is a get-it done kind of guy and is very well versed in the political arena and I look forward to working with him during his term as President.
Until next month,