2020 Annual Meeting Report

We had a record turnout for our Annual Meeting at Nipper Sanctuary in Loami on February 1, 2020. 44 people came out and enjoyed six different chilis and soups, not to mention great home-made cup cakes. It was quite cold, but that didn’t stop peer pressure from getting a tour going.

Overall of Annual Meeting
Friends of the Sangamon Valley annual meeting at Nipper Wildlife Preserve in Loami.

The business meeting portion was short and predictable, nothing wrong with that. After taking nominations from the floor (there were none), several board members were re-elected to two-year terms. Welcome back Bob Barewin, Angi Davis, Charlene Falco, Peggy Goetsch, John Justice, George Sinclair, and Jim Struebing. Plus, Mike Kennedy, whose been lurking at our last several board meetings, has joined us for his first term.

Vern LaGesse gave his annual report. He introduced the board members and reminded folks that being on the board is a real way to make a difference and participate in the group. He remembered George Rose, the difference he made, and how we will miss him.

He recounted our workdays: 47 this year; with the Tuesday and Thursday days (the “retiree” workdays) being particularly popular. It’s how we get most of our work done and Vern emphatically said, “Our volunteers make FOSV what we are.” He said we can be proud of our stewardship effort; and that no one else is doing this at the same scale in our area. Our workdays have included many days at Audubon’s Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, 5 days at the Wolf, 3 days at Gudmunson, 1 each at Knuppel, Robinson and Nipper, and 1 day at the Lael wetlands, along with a fire day. Vern called out Greg Feeny and Joel Johnson for special recognition on the massive amount of work they have devoted to the bike trails and the special landscaping flair Joel has brought to their efforts.

He talked about our work done in partnerships: with CWLP on their property, which is especially making a difference now that neighbors are understanding our goal. Working with the city’s Lake Services crew has helped productivity. They have a Bobcat with a rotary blade which works very quickly and takes care of the lower quality areas, so volunteers can spend time in higher quality areas, being more precise in which plants they remove. The Soil and Water Conservation District is another fruitful partnership.

We continue to offer training to volunteers, including workshops for chainsaw use, fire management, and herbicide application. We continue our mushroom growing workshop, making use of some of the wood we cut during our workdays.

The Sangamon River cleanup continues. We didn’t do the water cleanup this year due to a scare over blue green algae, so instead, we worked the shores with 20 volunteers. Vern remarked on the gradual attitude change among people who live next to the river and that we are gradually seeing less trash being thrown out in these areas.

Our Members-only tour of the Gudmundson property brought out a good size crowd in the spring to see this interesting tract on bluffs above the river. The sunset tours at Nipper have proven to be very popular and were well attended.

Vern thanked our tour leaders, Kevin Veara, Chris Young, and Joe Bartletti, during our newest annual event, Prairie Days, which generally happens the first Saturday in June at Nipper. The bird banding folks from Lincoln Land Community College have been a popular draw and they are learning quite a bit about Nipper with their annual efforts. Birds that they have banded two years ago have been recaptured in the same spots.

Ross Padgett, our intern is still with us, and we are pleased to have Krystle Adams with us, currently our part-time preserve manager, and being groomed as Vern’s replacement.

We have a growing Legacy program; several people have left us property in their estate, with some stipulating the time of restoration they would like to see, with the Nipper and Wolf projects serving as their inspiration. Vern dropped the big question: Can we keep the organization going long enough to receive these gifts and accomplish the restorations? Krystle and our strong volunteer network gives us hope.

Vern thanked the board members again, we broke for a lunch and a splendid time was had by all. See you next year, and hopefully soon- er!

Nipper winter tour
Vern LaGesse leads a wintery cold tour of Nipper during the Annual Meeting. Good thing the chili was hot. Photo by Steve Warmowski.

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