We spent some time recently to update our nonprofit GuideStar profile, in order to give our donors greater visibility into our finances and operation. As part of the journey from “Bronze” to “Silver” and, ultimately, to our “Gold” seal of transparency, we had to address the following questions. I thought that these would be good to repeat here, as they provide significant insight into our organization’s goals for the next three years.

With this, we hope it helps you make the decision to support us and our mission.

Without further ado…

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

From 2020-2023, we have agreed to explore the following:

  • Work with Monroe County on further trail improvements/resurfacing critical areas.
  • Increase fundraising to underpin master plan projects at Rochester Junction and Mendon Station Park (including getting back to grant writing where relevant grants become available to us).
  • Improve core utility infrastructure at Rochester Junction, including electric, water, and security.
  • Revive Earth Day activities with the Scouts on the Trail and our properties.
  • Find a railroad car for the Mendon Station Park tracks; restore boxcar and flatcar at Rochester Junction, and improve messaging in our Trail kiosks.
  • Continue to explore Land Trust Alliance (LTA) accreditation; review LTA Standards & Practices with all board members.
  • Reinvigorate our newsletter activities, at least through increased blogging on our web site, and hopefully with email newsletters if not print.
  • Increase our volunteer base.
  • Renew our work to visit and inspect land trust properties on an annual basis, with all board members.
  • Explore ways to have volunteers assist with grooming portions of the Lehigh Valley Trail for cross country skiing.

What are the organization’s key strategies for making this happen?

Fundamentally, we sat down and wrote these goals out at the end of our 2020 annual meeting. We are adding a project manager/fundraiser to our volunteer corps, who can help us reprioritize these things on an ongoing basis, and take steps toward getting there. Many of these projects are in various stages of progress already.

Some of them involve Boy Scout involvement, and we have refreshed our relationship with the Scouts to make this more likely to happen. COVID restrictions are somewhat of an impediment as of early 2021, but we know things will improve as the months roll on.

What are the organization’s capabilities for doing this?

We already have a strong relationship with Monroe County for improvements to the Lehigh Valley Trail, especially with the new County Parks leadership that took over in 2020. We feel we have a fruitful dialog, and there is general agreement on the value of the work that we have planned.

We recently took ownership of our web site and domain after a few years of it not being under our control, and we launched an all-new web site in early 2021. This site includes a vastly stronger outreach capability, with a strong social media presence and a variety of ways for people to reach out to us, and to build stronger relationships with our community. This will be a powerful platform for invigorating awareness, donations, and volunteering.

How will they know if they are making progress?

We have quarterly board meetings, and now that we, as of the end of 2020, have our goals enumerated in a three-year plan, we will collaborate to review our impediments and progress four times per year on all the above issues. We will also flex with the surrounding community, to adapt to their needs, as Mother Nature is a complicated beast, and invasive species, windstorms, and other natural phenomena play a large role in how we prioritize what we do.

What have they accomplished so far and what’s next?

Since our inception, we have become stewards of 160 acres of open spaces, and continue to renew our 5-year contracts with Monroe County to maintain the Lehigh Valley Trail.

But of the goals stated above, we are already seeing increased fundraising levels that will help us with the maintenance of displayed railroad equipment at Rochester Junction; we are already engaged with Monroe County on electrical and water improvements at Rochester Junction; and we are seeing more people in the community step up to offer volunteer services; and we have formally begun restorative work on our Lehigh Valley boxcar at Rochester Junction. Last but not least, our new web site has created vastly greater visibility to our land trust duties, and serves as a handy reference platform for reviewing them on a regular basis.