By Scott Woodbury
Terry Sebben and I attended the national Wild Ones board meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum on August 14th, 1999. The U.W. Arboretum is much like Shaw Arboretum. Both have well-developed restored tallgrass prairies, both are dedicated to environmental education, and both will soon have a new visitor center and wildflower gardens which demonstrate native gardening and plant communities. (Whitmire Wildflower Garden has been open for 7 years, whereas the U.W. Arboretum wildflower garden will open in spring 2000.) The setting for the meeting was in a large classroom overlooking Curtis Prairie. It was difficult to keep from staring out the windows, over the oldest restored prairie in the nation, to look at soaring hawks and swaying cordgrass.
President’s Report, Bret Rappaport: The new national 800 number is 877-394- 9453 (FYI-WILD). Bret gave us an update on a new coalition from Chicago called Chicago Wilderness. It comprises 90 organizations including the Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago Park District, Wild Ones and many more. They have the goal of preserving wilderness throughout the Illinois area and their voice is published through a new glossy magazine of the same name.
Membership Report, Donna VanBuken: She reported a 25% reduction in membership since last year and reminded the chapters to mail out notices to the membership whose dues are lapsed.
Education Report, Nancy Aiton: Nancy is in charge of the Seeds for Education Grant (i.e. Laurie Otto Fund). It currently has a $12,000 endowment. She moved to vote to dedicate $1.00 from each membership to go into the Seeds for Education Fund. Wild Ones has 2,200 members, which means that about $2,200 will go into the fund annually. We should advise anybody who is teaching environmental education in our area that grant money is available. Scott Woodbury has grant applications. In 1998, $2,000 was given, including $400 to a school woodland and prairie project in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, $400 to a school prairie project in Ann Arbor, Michigan, $200 to an urban prairie project in Detroit, Michigan and $200 to a nature trail project in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Website Report, Mark Charles: There currently are WWW pages for each of the Wild Ones chapters. The St. Louis chapter simply has contact people and phone numbers. There is potential for adding new articles, gardening resources, and schedules. We could send our newsletter to Mark quarterly to be included in our chapter page. Visit the site at www.for-wild.com.
Journal Report, Joy Buslaff: The DecemberJanuary issue if the Wild Ones Journal will be replaced with a revised Wild Ones Handbook.
In addition to the Board member reports, there were three issues discussed. They are as follows.
Issue 1, By-law change: Currently, there are 24 chapters and 9 at-large national board members (that is 33 voting board members, counting the president of each chapter). A quorum of 50% attendance is needed to have a valid vote. So far in the history of Wild Ones, not a single quorum has occurred until this August meeting. The proposal is to have a 15-member national board with a 4-year term to make voting easier. They will be selected from a nominating committee of 3-4 people. The selection will be based on wide geographical diversity. This by-law change will be voted upon by the membership via ballot in an upcoming journal issue.
Issue 2, Membership Recruitment: Most new members come from personal contact with local chapters, not from sophisticated marketing schemes. Also, publicity helps when located at libraries, bookstores, election sites, newsletters, etc. It has been suggested that the chapters create a publicity chair.
Issue 3, Weed Laws: At a Weed Ordinance Seminar in Glendale, Wisconsin, Bret Rappaport and Laurie Otto spoke to representatives of 30 local communities. Glendale was the only one not to send anybody. They decided that:
1. What is needed to promote nature-friendly gardening is a diverse committee of people who essentially replace old weed ordinances with regular meetings to discuss citations face to face with all parties involved.
2. Old ordinances still on the books, and not likely to come down from the books any time soon, don’t necessarily mean much against legitimate natural landscapes. Quiet sidestepping of weed laws seems to work better than attacking the law directly. In other words, it is important to educate and inform neighbors, local politicians, and weed cops about natural landscaping and to make your landscape look intentional with fences, borders, or a Wild Ones sign. Also, using the two presidential proclamations that are printed in the Wild Ones web site helps to validate natural landscaping.
3. The biggest problem is that no U. S. city has adopted a good and usable weed law. One is needed in order to set a precedent for future laws.
The keynote speaker at the end of the meeting was Darrel Morrison, a landscape architect from the University of Georgia. He designed the outdoor landscape at the Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Texas, and is currently working on the new wildflower garden at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.