Nov 262017
2017 FOCA Fall Seminar
Event Summary
Our latest FOCA member event took place on Saturday, November 4th, 2017 at the Boulevard Club in Toronto. With 125 attendees, it was a lively day of discussion and learning about building a sense of community, volunteerism, engagement and ways to connect with younger generations, for the good of our lake associations. Please share the following highlights with your fellow association members!
Introduction by FOCA

FOCA’s Executive Director, Terry Rees, opened the day with an overview about FOCA’s recent work, including invasive species projects undertaken this summer with 26 member Associations across the province, and a rural economic development project underway to clarify and assert the importance of cottage residents’ roles as entrepreneurs in municipal economies.

The theme of the day’s seminar reflects our members’ ongoing interests in membership growth and retention, and finding new & younger volunteers to ensure the vibrancy of lake associations for the future.

In 2018, Terry explained, FOCA will continue to work on asserting the significance of lake associations to decision makers, and will keep members informed about the upcoming Provincial Election (June 7, 2018) and Municipal Election (October 22, 2018).

While acknowledging the essential value of long-term commitment, there is clearly a need to keep filling the ranks of volunteers in our community organizations. Terry quoted the Corporate Knights: “A more sustainable future will only come about through the dedication of an informed and active citizenry.” ( Our challenges are many, but we have the strength of community to help us tackle them.
Keynote Speakers: The Water Brothers

We were very pleased to welcome Alex Mifflin and Tyler Mifflin, creators and co-hosts of the TVO eco-adventure documentary series, “The Water Brothers.” Since 2012, these Georgian Bay cottagers have travelled the globe, exploring some of the most important water stories of our time. The brothers’ passion for environmental education and conservation has led them to become water ambassadors in Canada and around the world.

They strongly believe in ensuring that audiences, particularly young people, are aware of the challenges we face in relation to our most precious resource: water. They want youth to become part of the emerging solutions that will need to be implemented in the coming years, in order to harmonize our relations with ecosystems that support all life on earth.

To see more about the Water Brothers, stream their Season 4 videos, here: Don’t miss, “On Thin Ice,” the episode about water science and their visit to the IISD Experimental Lakes Area!
Discussion Group Session

We rounded out the morning with a break-out session of table discussions about peer success stories. We asked each group to consider what is working for their lake associations, including: tools or events that help to find and engage NEW MEMBERS as well as YOUNGER VOLUNTEERS, and what GAPS might be preventing Associations from improving membership or volunteer/youth engagement.

Some interesting recurring themes and new ideas bubbled through the discussions. Thank you to all the note-takers! The afternoon session opened with a wrap-up by FOCA about trends noticed in the notes from the morning’s discussions. Here are some highlights:
Top ways to find new members include: dock-to-dock visits, social events that include food and drink, creating a welcome book or welcome wagon to greet newcomers, and leveraging digital tools such as websites, email newsletters and social media to circulate information about the “burning issues” that can galvanize interest in the association.
Younger volunteers may be found by hosting events targeted at youth, by taking advantage of social media, and by offering High School community service hours with your association. Also, it can help to offer younger volunteers specific, finite tasks and short-term commitments for one project or event, instead of a two-year Board stint, for example.
Participants reported some skills gaps to manage social media, websites and digital apps. They also identified that new structural models (such as “youth” or “associate” memberships) might encourage new people to get involved.
Download members-only summaries of all the valuable notes collected during these discussions: (PDFs, each 2 pages)
Panel: Other Voices on Volunteerism and Youth 
The afternoon continued with a panel discussion moderated by FOCA’s Frances Wilbur. Some highlights:
Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha and co-author of The Big Book of Nature Activities, focused upon the youngest definition of youth: those under 18 years of age. Jacob said: “A child is ‘biofluid’ and benefits from experiences in the same places, repeated over time to foster a life-long relationship with nature. From relationship comes respect, which leads to responsibility, and finally to reciprocity (wanting to give back).” Jacob encouraged associations to connect local nature experts with youngsters, and to consider offering kids’ day camps, as well as opportunities to perform simple acts of naturalization. Find age-appropriate details in his book (see link, above).

     Support material: Stewardship Ideas for Associations (PDF, 2 pages)

Thomas McAuley-Biasi, Chair of the non-profit organization Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity, urged our members to establish one-to-one connections with Millennials (roughly, the 18-to-35 year olds), and to share the passion that fuels your own involvement in the lake association. Remember, Thomas said, those finishing school need volunteer hours and unique internship opportunities that will help them stand out as they look to enter the competitive job market.
     Support material:  Youth Engagement (PDF, 2 pages)
Mike Hendren, Executive Director of the Kawartha Land Trust, echoed the call to “never waste a crisis!” Identify the transformative issue(s) at your own lake that will speak to new members and encourage new volunteers. Mike noted that we often expect volunteers to do too much; try asking for help at a one-time event instead of requiring a Board commitment.

     Support material: Volunteering Opportunities with KLT (PDF, 2 pages)

Watch a condensed video summary (9 minutes) of this 70 minute panel discussion, here:
Video Launch: “Lake Associations”
Our event concluded with the launch of the FOCA 2017 video project: “Lake Associations,” a new short film by videographer Chelsie Xavier-Blower, a graduate student of the Environmental Visual Communication (EVC) Program of Fleming College and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).
Chelsie was introduced by Dave Ireland, Managing Director of the ROM Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity. FOCA thanks all the member Associations who assisted with the making of this video, shot in Ontario cottage country this summer.
The video is available for viewing here:

Please share this video with others!

Thank you to our event sponsor Action First Aid:
also to our lunch sponsor Yamaha Canada and refreshments sponsor Cottage Life.
Gift basket was provided by Nature Clean.
Nature Clean New Logo 2013
See you at the NEXT scheduled member event:
the FOCA Annual General Meeting and Spring Seminar,
on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018.

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