NAAEE STRATEGIC PLANNING ACTIVITIES
Updated March 2002
CONTENTS OF THIS SUMMARY
I. Year 2000: Mission, Vision, Constituency And Focus Statements
II. 2001 Review of Association Long Range Plan
III. NAAEE Governance And Organizational Needs Assessment
IV. August 2001 Retreat Outcomes: Recommended Steps In Organizational
I. YEAR 2000: MISSION, VISION, CONSTITUENCY AND
Through facilitated Board discussions 1999 - 2000, the Board reviewed mission, vision,
core constituency and focus, membership structure and dues, commissions and
committees. In the December 2000 meeting, the Board had agreed to draft language for:
a mission statement
a vision statement
a core constituency
a change in Board governance size and member nomination criteria
NAAEE – promoting a healthy, sustainable environment through education.
The mission of the North American Association for Environmental Education is to
provide environmental educators with quality resources, training, publications and
networking opportunities to enable them to effectively educate people about the
environment. Further, NAAEE will advocate for environmental education, and provide
information and strategies that encourage citizens to work individually and collectively to
achieve a balance between quality of life and a quality environment.
We believe in the power of education. Through it, we aim to empower all people to live
more sustainably by enjoying a high quality of life while respecting the Earth=s finite
We are the collective voice promoting environmental education.
We seek to cooperate with like-minded organizations and stakeholders working for
transformation and change and to establish common ground with others.
We impact from the local to the global and our reach is broad and diverse.
We accomplish our goals through setting high standards and by providing access to
professional development opportunities, resources, and leading-edge technologies.
We maintain a forum for the exchange of ideas and we promote environmental
education to governments, funders, educational institutions, nongovernmental
organizations and the public.
We are solutions-oriented and innovative with the future in mind.
NAAEE’s primary constituency is individual members. Individuals from all nations are
welcomed into membership and have the same benefits and responsibilities.
Develop educational resources and offer training for individual environmental
Offer an annual national education conference, and strive to make that conference
useful to individuals from the diverse disciplines and various venues reflected in the
Serve as a clearinghouse to collect, synthesize, interpret and distribute EE
information and research.
Provide for members a quality, substantive periodic publication with practice-
Develop a members-only web site that facilitates members’ access to EE
information relative to their professional positions.
Promote and facilitate networking among members.
Begin exploration of a national certification program for EE professionals.
Provide professional development opportunities for staff and members to increase
cultural competency (maturity) with NAAEE and the field.
Guidelines for Excellence
Make available, promote, and update Guidelines for Excellence. Adapt if necessary,
and promote their use in conformal settings. Provide training on how to use
Guidelines and explain the rigorous process that was followed to produce the
Explore the feasibility of developing a mechanism for reviewing EE materials
developed from any source, on a national scale, by applying the guidelines to those
materials. Conduct a study to determine if a national review process would be an
accepted service to environmental education and a revenue source for NAAEE.
National Representation, Information and Advocacy
Provide information to members on national legislative issues and on important
developments in the EE field at the national level.
Serve as an advocate for environmental educators to policy makers at the national
Identify opportunities for environmental educators to contribute to and benefit from
national programs and projects.
Plan an active role in the EE-Links Steering Committee and funnel information to
members from the Environmental Education Partnership (a fledgling organization
coordinated by the US Office of Education).
NAAEE Board Governance
At the April 2001 Board meeting, the Board approved a change in the association by-
laws to reduce the size of the Board to fourteen, including four officers, the Past-
President, three members appointed to increase the Board’s expertise in addressing the
interests of people of color, and six at-large elected members who broadly represent the
constituency of the association.
II. 2001 REVIEW OF ASSOCIATION LONG RANGE PLAN
In early 2001 the NAAEE Board reviewed the association’s Long Range Plan and
affirmed our highest priorities: The 1997 Plan addressed seven themes, A – G. In 2001,
items D and E were less highly valued by the 2001 Board primarily because they had to
do with older programs and were dropped from the priority themes.
2001 Association Planning Priorities:
A. Provide leadership in the field of environmental education
B. Create a climate for inclusiveness and cultural cross-fertilization
C. Support environmental education professionals, including: a cutting edge annual
conference, a high quality publications program, opportunities for professional
development, and support for partners to strengthen environmental education
activities at the local and national levels.
F. Initiate and undertake high quality environmental education projects
G. Achieve a sound administrative, fiscal and program structure
1. Provide resources and professional development to a diverse membership; and
2. Set standards and effectively advocating for quality environmental education
III. NAAEE GOVERNANCE AND ORGANIZATIONAL
NEEDS ASSESSMENT. Elaine Andrews, NAAEE President, 2001
In 1999, NAAEE’s first Executive Director, Ed McCrea, left NAAEE. Joan Haley,
Deputy Director, managed the association while the Board chose a new Executive
Director, Bonnie Shelton. At the same time the Association was undergoing a transition
from a fiscal and administrative structure designed for managing a large national
facilitation grant to a structure focused on managing a membership association. The
change in leadership and financial condition of the Association led to a short-term
financial crisis and departure of the new Executive Director. It was in this context that
Elaine Andrews, NAAEE President 2001, analyzed association needs, particularly from
the point of view of the responsibilities of the NAAEE Board.
The following recommendations were developed based on Ms. Andrew’s
extensive knowledge of the Association and detailed review of nonprofit organization
literature and instruction. Primary sources for the review were the National Center for
Nonprofit Boards and the NonProfit Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin.
Elaine has been a NAAEE member for more than 20 years; served on the Board from
1990 – 96; chaired the membership committee for 6 years; served on the program
committee for the 1990 national conference; authored an NAAEE publication about adult
education; organized annual conference presentations, events and symposia; and
participated in many other association events.
NAAEE ASSOCIATION NEEDS
A clear, understandable structure that members can understand and interact with
and that provides a clear avenue for board decision-making regarding policy and
Association/Board agreement on basic categories of work, that reflects NAAEE=s
mission, vision, focus and constituency
An Association business plan which outlines the objectives of the organization and
how they will be achieved.
State-of-the-art management systems applicable to nonprofits for:
Bookkeeping and audit system
Membership data management
Staff hiring, accountability and personnel policies
An Association structure that facilitates the networking and partnership needs of
people working in environmental education.
A management strategy for preserving financial resources including:
Financial policies on investments, financial controls, audits, reports and
Board review of financial statements and reports on a periodic basis.
Board to ensure an annual financial audit and an OMB A-133 audit.
Development of safeguards to ensure that the organization can meet grant or
donor provisions or restrictions.
Strategies to provide accountability to members and donors.
NAAEE BOARD DEVELOPMENT NEEDS
Training in board process and efficient function. Goals include:
Board ability to function as a team or group and to understand member role in
fulfilling organization expectations, duties, and responsibilities
Meetings and discussion guided by mission and values
Board attention to important trends in the field and member concerns
Application of problem solving procedures when examining issues
Clear organizational priorities for each year, anticipating the need for action on
urgent or critical issues and taking responsibility for taking action on important
Communication of decisions to members and other stakeholders
Monitoring the impact of decisions on members and stakeholders
Board processes for program assessment and monitoring, to assure that the Board:
Defines the program need
Articulates the purpose for NAAEE involvement in meeting a need
Outlines intended accomplishments
Monitors accomplishments and impacts
IV. AUGUST 2001 RETREAT OUTCOMES: RECOMMENDED
STEPS IN ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
With funding from U.S. EPA Office of Environmental Education, the NAAEE
Board hired nonprofit organization development consultant, Maureen Robinson, to
provide the Board with basic education about nonprofit boards and facilitate Board
discussion about crucial governance and organizational issues. The most pressing issue
that the Board faced was a significant lapse in financial record keeping and management
resulting in discovery of substantial outstanding debts that had not been identified by the
previous administration. Surprise debts coupled with the loss of the Executive Director
and two staff members, and a lack of a financial plan or new sources of income created
an emergency management status in February 2001.
Ms. Robinson met with the Board in April and August of 2002 to determine
immediate short-term steps and to help the Board plan for the next two years. To put a
plan into action, Ms. Robinson summarized our work as follows. While Board work on
these topics has moved forward, it was important to alert NAAEE members to Board
decisions and provide opportunities for members to assist with and influence changes in
NAAEE members were asked to review and respond to the list of short term
objectives and related actions through a public participation event at the 2001 national
conference in Little Rock and through requests for comments appearing in NAAEE’s
Communicator, EENews (electronic news service) and the NAAEE website. Members
were provided with objectives and target activities and asked to provide advice about
activities and where expertise to accomplish the objectives might be found. The NAAEE
Board will incorporate member recommendations into Year Two actions.
A. NAAEE short-term objectives
The Board reaffirmed that NAAEE is the national voice for environmental educators and
must take the lead in articulating the value of environmental education to a wide range of
audiences. To accomplish this the Board identified four objectives:
Strengthen NAAEE’s financial capacity
Lead in the professional development of environmental educators
Strengthen NAAEE’s working relationship with allied organizations
Create an effective organizational structure
B. Critical activities
1. Maximize the financial results of the Boston conference. This task is separate from
planning for program content and local arrangements.
2. Accreditation and certification provide a strong focus for NAAEE. The association
has short-term opportunities that possess long-term positive implications.
3. Putting staff leadership in place needs attention. The Board needs to think through
the kind of talent it needs, the resources it has to acquire that talent and how it will
management the process. It also needs to consider how it will help facilitate the
transition from being primarily a volunteer led organization to one that capitalizes
equally and appropriately on its board and staff assets.
C. Action Plan
The Board recommended the following action steps. Details for accomplishing each step
are in development by Board committees or staff.
1. Strengthen NAAEE’s financial capacity
a) Maximize financial results of Boston conference
b) Develop strategy for new member recruitment and retention
c) Create sustainable financing for EELink
2. Lead in the professional development of environmental educators
a) Collaborate with NCATE in accreditation for teachers in environmental
b) Create certification program for nonformal environmental educators
c) Produce annually the premier conference in environmental education
d) Extend and leverage the use of the Guidelines for Excellence, other policy
3. Strengthen NAAEE’s working relationships with allied organizations
a) Build an alliance that develops strategy and a plan of action for increasing
awareness and value of environmental education
b) Expand the definition of environmental education to involve more diverse
organizations and audiences
4. Create an effective organizational structure
a) Plan for recruitment of new executive director
b) Clarify the relationship with affiliate organizations to determine mutual benefit
c) Assess and strengthen committee structure
d) Improve member services
e) Review Board structure and terms of office
f) Increase staff resources in development and marketing