Your Elbert County Ag Alliance Board of Directors has been busy this fall and we have a lot to share with you!
You may be wondering what we’ve been up to since you have joined. Building a non-profit from the ground up can be a daunting task, but we are feeling very successful and have made some great progress over the last year. Our website is up and looking pretty good. Take a look! https://elbertcountyagalliance.org/
We’ve also been developing a members-only site that has some great features for our members to learn, grow, and support each other. We hope to have it LIVE in early 2020.
One of our most challenging and rewarding tasks this year has been to create internal systems for better efficiency in all that we do, including better communication with our members. We look forward to continuing to improve and grow the organization for the next year and welcome your ideas or suggestions. Most of all, we encourage you to get involved to help mold this organization into what you, as members, want and need most.
Many of you have expressed interest in agritourism, whether that’s incorporating it into to what you are already doing or creating a specific agritourism venue. There is a lot of potential for this in our community. So here is what we have been working on:
CRAFT Agritourism Workshop
This Fall, we applied for and were awarded, the very competitive Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Workshop. This workshop is for key stakeholders in our community who are willing to work toward the creation of agritourism opportunities and collaborations. We are partnering with the Elbert County, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Elizabeth Park and Recreation (EPR) and the Pines & Plains Library District. The grant-funded CRAFT Workshop is the first step in supporting you with agritourism business opportunities. The Workshop will be held on April 18th. Please contact Diane Cribley right away if you are interested in participating or have questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are collaborating with the El Paso County (CSU) Extension for a full-day agritourism class. This will be open to anyone in El Paso and Elbert Counties who has an interest in learning more about what it takes to have a successful agritourism business. The cost will be $50-$75. This class will likely be held between mid-March and early April. If there is enough interest from our members, the class can be tailored to what you are most interested in learning.
The future Homestead Education Center
We continue to work toward a physical home for the ECAA. We are partnering with Elizabeth Park and Recreation and they are in negotiations for one of two properties. Regardless of which property they acquire, we will have a location to build our Homestead Education Center and to run the ECAA. In the meantime, we are building relationships with a number of people and organizations who share our values and vision to provide a wide range of activities, education, and opportunities for our members and our community.
Teaching and Learning Opportunities
One of the things that was very important to our founding members, was to create opportunities to teach and share our knowledge with others, while also creating an income. We have been invited to begin a program of education this coming year, using the Casey Jones Pavilion. Classes will be wide ranging – fiber arts, growing, cooking/baking/food preservation, animal husbandry, building things, creating art, ranch and farm skills… If you are interested in teaching any classes, please contact Diane at email@example.com. If you have never offered classes before, the idea can be intimidating. It needn’t be. You will be fully supported by Elizabeth Park and Recreation (EPR). They will handle scheduling, advertising, registration and any other support that you may need. At our February membership meeting, Mike Barney, Director of EPR will do a short presentation on the ins and outs of teaching a class. Our very own Annie Lopez, one of the founding members of ECAA, will also be available to support you when you have questions about how to prepare for teaching your class.
Help the ECAA Grow
Your volunteer Board of Directors has put in a tremendous amount of time and energy into building an organization and creating programs that will benefit you and others in our communities. We hope that you will consider supporting us in a variety of ways:
- Renew your membership. We are late in getting our renewal notices out, but expect them to arrive soon. Membership fees are needed to cover basic and start-up expenses so that we can enhance your membership benefits.
- Consider donating to our Homestead Education Center (HEC) Building Fund. While we will be applying for a number of grants and will be seeking partners and sponsors for the HEC, we also need a certain level of cash in the bank. Many grants require a certain percentage of matching funds, and partners and sponsors expect a financially sound organization.
- Help to build our organization by taking on some of the responsibilities. We need your help. That includes your perspectives and ideas.
- Consider running for the Board of Directors. We benefit from a wide range of expertise and a willingness to dedicate time and energy. The most important traits though, are enthusiasm, a willingness to follow through with commitments, and a spirit of collaboration and mutual support for each other.
- Join or lead a Committee. Our ability to grow and thrive depends on passionate people who are willing to donate their time to lead and develop our goals and programs. There are many opportunities to have a major impact on the ECAA and our presence in our community. We have Education, Fundraising, Event Planning, HEC Development and Membership committees. If you’re interested in joining or leading one of these committees, please contact Diane Cribley or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Help spread the word! What makes this group exceptional is the wide variety of skills and knowledge that each of you has to share with each other. Encourage your friends, neighbors, and community members to join us in building our community.
Let’s get together! The Board of Directors spent the last several months working on organizational infrastructure and developing plans for future growth. With the start of the new year, we look forward to resuming our monthly member meetings and getting everyone involved.
We have decided to alternate Saturdays and Sundays so that all of our members have an opportunity to attend. Meetings are the first Saturday of each even month and the first Sunday of each odd month. The first member meeting of 2020 will take place on February 1st. You can see a complete schedule and find more information on the website events page.
Family Game Time!
Join us on January 19 from Noon to 4pm at the Elbert Mercantile Building for a social event, in partnership with the Elbert Women’s Club and the Elbert Booster Club. It will be a great opportunity to meet other members and get excited for what the new year will bring. For more info, visit the events page on our website or follow the event on our Facebook page for the latest details and updates.
Thank you for your support! We are so excited for what waits for the ECAA in 2020 and can’t wait to partner with you as we continue to grow.
The Elberty County Ag Alliance Board of Directors:
Diane Cribley (Chair), Tonya Roche (Chair-Elect), Wendy Walp (Secretary), Beth Haymond (Treasurer), Shannon Lofland (Member-at-Large), Tamara Cribley (Member-at-Large)