Photo Credit: Jeff Buxbaum
Late last year, we reached out to more than 4,000 Fells enthusiasts to gather feedback via an online survey. We asked you to share with us what you think we should be working on and how we can improve in our efforts to protect and enjoy the Fells.
We were thrilled to receive feedback from more than 500 Fells supporters, and appreciate the thoughtful responses to our questions.
Now, we’re using the survey responses, as well as input from interviews with members, donors, volunteers, elected officials, and partners, to plan Friends of the Fells programs and initiatives for 2021 and beyond in a Strategic Plan to be released this spring.
We’re eager to complete our planning and share it with you soon. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you some of the key takeaways from the survey.
Your Top Priorities
When we asked you what our priorities should be, the three most popular were:
- Engage communities in hands-on stewardship activities in the Fells;
- Work with DCR to improve compliance with the rules intended to protect natural resources and improve visitor experiences in the Fells;
- Engage people in under-resourced and diverse communities to increase their knowledge of and comfort in using the Fells.
A very modest percent of our survey respondents volunteer with us. Only 13% volunteer annually or more often, which means we need to get busy cultivating more volunteer leaders and enhance our efforts to recruit, support, and celebrate volunteers who want to help.
We are not a diverse community. Survey respondents are mostly white (90%), and mostly over the age of 30 (94%). It’s clear that we need to focus more of our attention on diversity, equity, and inclusion so our organization is more reflective of and supports the diverse communities that can benefit from what the Fells has to offer. Our Strategic Plan will have more to say on this topic.
One key theme ran through many of your comments. There’s a hunger to be part of a community of people who share an appreciation for the Fells and come together to enjoy and protect it. To me, this may be the most important advice of all, since building a stronger Fells community will result in a more impactful Friends of the Fells, and thus better protection and care for it.
Over the coming months, I look forward to a brighter, “pandemic-recovery” future where we invite more diversity into our organization, meet up in the Fells, and work side by side to make it a better place for nature and people to thrive. I hope to see you there!
Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation