A New Mission Statement for the Future

Our Dyck Arboretum staff and board (with facilitation from our member and consultant, John Simmering) have been doing a lot of self review over the last year in search of a new mission statement for the future. Our two-part mission statement for the past 36 years has been as follows:

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains promotes, through education and stewardship, the conservation and use of plants native and adaptable to Kansas.

The Arboretum maintains gardens and prairie plant collections for education and conservation, providing a natural setting for reflection and appreciation of nature.

 

While it was relevant in the early days of the Arboretum, for what we have evolved to today, this old mission statement has become restrictive. It doesn’t recognize the relationships we develop with our supporters through music, history, culture, the arts, rentals, healthy bodies, and environmental stewardship. This old mission statement is also quite long, hard to remember, and mixes mission with vision.

Evie and Harold Dyck’s dream for the Arboretum has brought us through 37 years of changes. Now we’re expanding on their mission and vision.

Our consultant gave us guidance to make our new mission statement simple, inclusive in scope, and unrestrictive in geography. After many meetings, round table discussions with members and supporters, surveys, individual staff reflections and feedback sessions with our board, we came up with the following new mission statement:

Dyck Arboretum of the Plains cultivates transformative relationships between people and the land.

In the following, I’ll pick apart and explain, using visual aids, more of the meaning our staff used to describe each of the words in this new mission statement and offer photos from our archives that might further illustrate each of these thoughts for the public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further interpretation of what we do at Dyck Arboretum, one can turn to our vision and initiatives. A vision statement should further flesh out details regarding how we support our mission and the initiatives detail what we actually do to carry out that vision. Our vision and initiative statements are a work-in-progress, but along the way we’ll share what we have been working on and welcome your input.

 

VISION

To support our mission, we have four elements in this DRAFT of our vision statement.

Education – Introduce people to the native landscapes of Kansas, promote ecological diversity, encourage citizen science, and re-connect people to nature.

Community – Enable people to find a sense of place, encourage empathy for diversity of people and organisms, and create both active and passive community engagement experiences.

Arts – Be a source of diverse educational experiences and provide innovative and creative pathways to help people connect to our mission.

Organizational Sustainability – Model sustainable management of staff, instructure and finances, for long-term health of the Arboretum.

 

INITIATIVES

The principal initiatives that help us carry out our vision include prairie conservation and native/adaptable plant landscaping, maintained gardens with contemplative spaces, spring and fall FloraKansas native plant festivals, tours of the Arboretum, visits to important locations in Kansas, landscaping classes and private landscaping consultations, a winter lecture series, a spring education symposium, school field trips, and our Kansas Earth Partnership for Schools Program. Other initiatives that introduce new people to our mission, develop relationships in community, and help us establish a sense of place here at Dyck Arboretum include our Prairie Window Concert Series, Winter Luminary Walk, Go Green Leprechaun Run, visual art displays, a gift shop, and rental of our facilities and grounds.

Thanks for following what we do and for helping support our mission. The relationships we cultivate with you are what we are all about!

 

2017 Dyck Arboretum Year in Review (Limerick Style)

End of December, in its last week,
dormant plants means the prairie’s asleep.
From our 35th year,
the events we will cheer,
this time when darkness is peak.

Winter Lecture Series

For wildfires, bird sounds, and butterflies,
folks brought open ears and wide eyes.
Learn new facts and stats,
about birds, bugs, and bats,
The 2018 Series will make you wise.

Spring Symposium: Living A Land Ethic in Kansas

Our members for an ethic take a stand,
with Kansas animals and plants in demand.
Farmers and ranchers spoke,
Teachers and leaders invoked,
a clear message – take care of the land.

Leprechaun Run

Around the Arboretum we ran,
to catch the bearded leprechaun.
Costumes were so green,
time away from the screen,
great fun for each child, woman, and man.

Landscaping Classes

Good folks want to limit their grass.
Mowing’s such a pain in the…rear.
Just add native plants,
attract birds, bees, and ants,
biodiversity you will amass.

Wisconsin trip to give talks at Aldo Leopold Foundation Land Ethic Conference

I paid my respects to Leopold.
A story that he simply told –
take care of the land,
to the future we’ll hand,
An ethic that’s worth more than gold.

Summer Soiree

Nice food and a speaker we did host,
sitting inside so that folks would not roast.
Stayed out of the sun,
silent auction was fun,
we love our supporters the most!

Weddings

In a setting where native plants live,
brides and grooms their vows they did give,
Their families were happy,
words may have been sappy,
discord we hope they’ll outlive.

Arboretum Grounds Management

Nice grounds that our members admire,
demand work with a rake, mulch and fire.
Native plants will create,
space for insects to mate,
and landscapes of which you will not tire.

Spring and Fall FloraKansas Plant Sales

Choose a forb, grass, sedge, shrub or tree.
We love to see a good buying spree.
Plant sales feed our mission,
and bring home the bacon,
friendly advice here is given for free.

Earth Partnership for Schools Program

Native plant lessons teachers do hear,
a program that is in its 12th year.
the kids lend a hand,
their lessons are grand,
prairie gardens on school grounds endear.

Field Trips

Kids come to learn things about prairie.
New names like bluestem and ground cherry.
Plant roots go so deep,
flower nectar so sweet,
insects are our friends and not scary.

Concerts

Great music in a prairie garden setting.
Enjoy tunes in nice seats without sweating.
Plucked strings are a treat,
harmonies are so sweet,
Crust & Crumb breads at break you’ll be getting.

Eclipse Trip

We drove to the corn state to see,
a brief view of the sun worry free.
All eyes in the air,
such shows are so rare,
wearing dark glasses was key.

Luminary Walk

Our grounds after dark are a sight,
gentle glows given by candle light.
Festive notes please the ear,
tasty treats add good cheer,
bundle up so you don’t get frostbite.

Thank you for being part of our Dyck Arboretum family

Our staff love our jobs that is clear,
volunteers and members we hold dear.
With a mission so true,
we’ll work hard for you,
Season’s greetings and happy new year!

Looking Inward

In recent weeks, the staff, board of directors, and select members at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains have been looking inward through a strategic planning process to help better guide our future. We are in a process of filling out staff personality profiles, collecting survey data from members and volunteers, hearing from the public through round table input sessions, and will soon be having a strategic planning retreat in early 2018 to make sense of all this feedback. We are working together with Legasus Group, LC to guide us through this process.

Kids are good at examining the world close to them. Strategic planning is helping Dyck Arboretum look more inward to strengthen our future.

We hope this process will help Dyck Arboretum maintain relevance in an ever-changing society and culture, stay aligned with the values of our mission, remain sustainable well into the future, and keep our staff passionate about our vocations.

We have had good participation from our passionate and dedicated board and members during this process. They have been active taking the survey and attending round table sessions. A summary of the round table sessions is still forthcoming, but highlights from the survey are as follows:

  • 187 individuals completed the survey with 70% of respondents being active members
  • 68% of survey respondents participated in at least 3 different Arboretum sponsored activities with the FloraKansas Plant Sale being the most attended
  • 45% of respondents live less than 11 miles from the Arboretum
  • Respondents agreed that the Arboretum is a very valuable resource for the community and its facilities are well maintained, however, respondents knowledge of how they could support the Arboretum may be an area of improvement
  • Respondents seem to value the educational opportunities and having a beautiful space for events
  • 78% of respondents are highly likely to recommend the Arboretum to others, while only 3% of the respondents wouldn’t be as likely to do so

I love data and do tend to geek out on these kinds of number summaries. My personality profile tells me, after all, that I am a “thinker”. . . what I apparently lack in imagination and humor, I make up for in logic. So, it makes sense that I would tend to salivate at the lessons learned from this survey. Doesn’t everybody think that a spreadsheet conference sounds like a great time!?!

I obviously can’t convey all of the survey findings to you in this short blog post. But I can leave you with a few survey summaries of age demographics, events attended, and a Dyck Arboretum “word cloud.” The Wordle word cloud was generated by an analysis of the five pages of open ended responses of what people value most about the Arboretum. The word cloud gives greater prominence to words that appeared more frequently.

Age of Participants

  • 18-25 years old                     1%
  • 26-34 years old                    2%
  • 35-54 years old                    27%
  • 55-64 years old                    30%
  • 64 or older                            40%

Events/Activities Participated in the Last 3 Years

  • Plant Sale                                           73%
  • Luminary Walk                                    54%
  • Prairie Window Concert Series          46%
  • Winter Lecture Series                         24%
  • Summer Soiree                                   17%
  • Landscaping Classes                          15%
  • Spring Symposium                              12%
  • Leprechaun Run                                  12%

Below is a Wordle word cloud analysis of the responses to the question: What do you value most about the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains?