TPE seeks accreditation
The Prairie Enthusiasts is applying for accreditation through the Land Trust Alliance this fall. Our Executive Director, Chris Kirkpatrick, provides this update.The Prairie Enthusiasts is applying for accreditation through the Land Trust Alliance this fall. The accreditation application has been something the Board, committees, and staff have been preparing for over the past 5 years. TPE's application is due later this September, and as part of our application we are seeking TPE members, volunteers, and supporters to provide your comments to the Land Trust Alliance's Accreditation Commission. Below describes the opportunity:
The Commission accepts comments from the public on pending applications; comments on pending applications may be submitted online, via email, or in writing (mail to Land Trust Accreditation Commission, 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866). While comments received by the Commission must be attributed, the name of the commentator is not disclosed to the applicant.
TPE adopts and follows the Standards and Practices that the Land Trust Alliance puts forth, and the accreditation process checks across several key practices to determine how well TPE's policies and procedures are implemented and followed. These standards focus on board governance, financial management, conducting sound transactions, and maintaining our land and easements.
Accreditation is a check against our policies and procedures to see how well we follow our processes adopted by the Board. It is something to achieve as a benchmark to demonstrate that The Prairie Enthusiasts is a solvent, stable and successful organization with an eye to the future. Receiving accreditation will demonstrate that TPE is an organization working at the highest standards put forth in our industry. Besides these accolades, the real accomplishments of this process are already being realized by TPE. This is from the work we have accomplished improving our policies and procedures over the past five years.
One example of this is our process for acquiring land and conservation easements. Prior to getting our land protection policies and procedures developed more than 5 years ago, TPE was still conducting projects that were being overseen by the Board, yet there was not as much due diligence as are recommended by LTA's standards and practices. This was evident when putting together our application. The Accreditation Commission selects several projects to document how well we did our projects ten years ago against how we did a project last year. You can see the improvement that has enabled TPE to conduct any type of potential land transaction, and has the process in place to achieve this according to industry standards.
Another example of recent improvements are with our financial management system. This culminated last year with the approval of our Accountant's Manual, which outlines the processes and procedures for how TPE manages our finances. One major accomplishment has been the improvement of our financial system to manage and track dedicated, allocated or restricted income on a monthly basis. It also gave policy definitions to our four restricted funds for easement monitoring, legal defense, internship, and land management.
TPE will likely achieve accreditation early next year, but it will probably come with some recommendations for us to continue to improve on over the next five years. This process has given TPE a tool to continue to review and improve our functioning processes and the policies that govern them. It will only continue to ensure our perpetuation for the recovery of the ecosystems we are responsible for caring for.