BIC Awarded Accreditation
Block Island Conservancy Awarded Accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
OUR ROAD TO ACCREDITATION
BY DEREK VAN LENT, ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE
The Block Island Conservancy is about to embark on a path toward recognition as an accredited land trust by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. This will be a journey of self-improvement for our organization at times strenuous and arduous but in the end very rewarding. We will be joining many other conservation organizations that have made the commitment to improve their efficiency and business practices to insure their success and the longevity of their work. In January of 2005 the BIC Board of Directors approved a resolution to adopt, and to manage BIC in alignment with, the 2004 Land Trust Standards and Practices as defined by the Land Trust Alliance. Since then we have added new policies and revised some old ones to be more in compliance with these standards and practices. In 2007 the Land Trust Accreditation Commission began the accreditation program to give community institutions the seal of approval that they were following national quality standards for protecting natural places and working lands forever. They are an independent commission within the Land Trust Alliance and do not share staff or board members. Dr. Sharon Goldsmith, an international accreditation consultant, states that “accreditation measures an organization against consensus based standards as defined by their industries, and publicly recognizes those organizations that achieve accreditation. Accreditation requires an evidence based verification process in which applicants demonstrate how they comply with each defined standard. … [T]he process itself often transforms how an organization works in beneficial ways.” We will be demonstrating our compliance, competence and achievements to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The benefits of having achieved accreditation will largely be self-improvement, building up our systems to be more successful, increased efficiency and confidence in our work. We will further secure our records and documentation methods to be sure we can (1) demonstrate organizational viability and sustainability and (2) ensure audit ability of our procedures and processes. These improvements will help us defend our properties and easements if they are legally challenged in the future. We will add one more feather in our cap to assure our community, current and future donors that we can responsibly and sustainably preserve their properties indefinitely. It will deepen the trust our board members put in themselves knowing they are preceding under the best standards and practices. In the process we will root out any weaknesses we may have in the way we conduct ourselves now. Whether those are in training new board members, record keeping or periodic review of properties under our charge, we will identify areas of improvement, adopt the proper changes and increase the performance of our already strong organization. Our accreditation committee is made up of Derek van Lent, Debbie Howarth and Stephen Record. There are twelve Standards and Practices to be reviewed with many sub-categories within each standard. The direct participation and effort of all the board members will be required to appropriately examine ourselves and recommend the necessary upgrades to achieve accreditation.
PUBLIC NOTICE: BLOCK ISLAND CONSERVANCY TO APPLY FOR ACCREDITATION
AUGUST 5, 2013
Block Island Conservancy is pleased to announce that it is applying for accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. A public comment period is now open.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.
The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Block Island Conservancy complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards, please see www.landtrustaccreditation.org/getting-accreditated/indicator-practices.
To learn more about accreditation and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 112 Spring Street, suite 204, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on Block Island Conservancy’s application will be most useful by October 25, 2013.
2013 ACCREDITATION GOAL FOR BIC
2013 ACCREDITATION GOAL FOR BIC
BY DEBBI-JO HORTON & DEREK VAN LENT
Block Island Conservancy, Inc. is applying for accreditation with the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission (LTAC) in this fiscal year and, as required by the LTAC, we are hereby notifying our stakeholders of our intention. We have been discussing this application for several years, and in June we registered our intent with the LTAC to file our application in Spring 2013. We have been making great progress toward obtaining our accreditation. We have been working on our policies and procedures to conform to the rigorous standards and required practices for Land Trust Accreditation. We are continuing to meet weekly through the fall and winter to complete our work for the pre-application submission that is due in early February. This will keep us on track to make our full and final application by our deadline next spring.
The BIC Board of Directors began this process by adopting at its January 8, 2005 meeting the 12 Land Trust Standards and Practices that had been published by the Land Trust Alliance in 2004. A few years later the Land Trust Accreditation Commission was created as a separate entity from the Land Trust Alliance, and Land Trusts from around the country began to apply for review and accreditation.
In Fall 2009 the board committed itself to attaining accreditation and began to examine the accreditation process with ever increasing seriousness. Through a series of continuing work shops and work sessions we have been able to outline key pieces of the work for the board and are now almost at the point of completion of our pre-application, a major milestone. We have familiarized ourselves with the requirements of accreditation; performed a guided assessment of Block Island Conservancy’s policies and procedures with a qualified consultant (Manes Consulting of Kent , CT); identified policies and practices which needed upgrading, creation, or revision; and intensely focused our efforts on making those necessary changes.
We have been fortunate to have accreditation assistance from two interns this year. Eleanor Durfee from Haverford College in Pennsylvania worked with us through the summer, and Ted Grillo from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston continues the effort this fall. Our organizational work continues in earnest for Block Island Conservancy as we hope to achieve accreditation in this our 40th fiscal year.
Stakeholders can comment on our application by visiting the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website www.landtrustaccreditationcommission.org and clicking on the “Submit Feedback” button. Applicant’s names are posted on this site, and the LTAC will accept signed written comments from the public on pending applications. The full Land Trust Standards and Practices document can be reviewed there as well. From the full list the commission identifies “indicator practices” that it specifically reviews to evaluate the individual Land Trusts for accreditation. Stakeholder comments must be related to the applicant’s compliance with the quality standards from the Land Trust Standards and Practices.
ACCREDITATION MARCHES ON
BY DEREK VAN LENT, ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE
Our accreditation efforts have continued this year with progress being made on many fronts. In the fall of 2010 the BIC board engaged a consultant, Manes Consulting LLC, to lead us through an organizational self-assessment process looking at the status and function of the BIC. This is the first step in the process of accreditation required by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. This assessment was based on the Land Trust Alliance 12 Standards and Practices developed by the LTA to guide conservation groups in conducting their business and organizing themselves to safeguard the land they protect in perpetuity. They are also the basis for evaluating the performance of a conservancy group for accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. From our organizational self-assessment review, Connie Manes prepared an Organizational Work-plan that focused on and identified key areas of our policies and procedures: some where we are already very strong, and others where we could review and make some improvements. Using the Organizational Work-plan document we have assigned sub-groups of the BIC board to look at our policies and procedures and prepare new language or whole new policies for adoption, where appropriate. Changes that were identified through this process and acted on by the whole BIC membership were the policies on term limits and re-election of directors that we voted on and approved at the annual meeting. The schedule for completion of our work is to be fully prepared to apply for accreditation in December of 2012, marking the end of BIC’s 40th anniversary year. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission review would begin in the Spring of 2013 and we hope to achieve accreditation by the end of 2013.