TPE Receives Accreditation
In August of 2018, The Prairie Enthusiasts and The Prairie Enthusiasts Trust earned national recognition for sound finances, responsible governance, ethical conduct, lasting stewardship, commitment to Public Trust, and conservation excellence! This is a mark of distinction in land conservation. TPE Communication Coordinator Joe Rising writes about it in this blog post.All your hard work towards Grassroots Conservation is Action is paying off. After several years of working on policies and procedures adhering to national standards and practices, TPE has demonstrated continuous organizational improvement, and this past August became a nationally recognized accredited land trusts. One thing that unites us all as a nation is land. Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since the 1980s, The Prairie Enthusiasts have been doing just that for the biodiversity and people of the upper Midwest. Now The Prairie Enthusiasts has achieved national recognition – joining a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public's trust in their work.
TPE Past President Jack Kussmaul who worked on this project for many years said: “Accreditation has been an amazing eight year journey for TPE. We still remain the volunteer, chapter based, organization that we have always been. We are, however, a much stronger organization because of the changes we have made in those eight years.
All of our policies and procedures have become more professional and transparent. Meeting the requirements for accreditation has forced us to make sure we have the funds to support all new acquisitions.”
The Prairie Enthusiasts was especially recognized by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for its “Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual and Chapter Treasurers' Handbook as well as for the way it engages volunteers across three states in its prairie conservation work.”
“It is exciting to recognize The Prairie Enthusiasts with this national mark of distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, Executive Director of the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”
The Prairie Enthusiasts and TPE Trust provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation in order to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded TPE accreditation, signifying its confidence that The Prairie Enthusiasts' lands are and will be well protected.
This is crucial, as now that TPE has a solid and sound land protection program, it is capable of ensuring long term legal protection, and a commitment that the sites will be cared for in perpetuity.
This is very important because in 2018 alone we anticipate protecting 8 new sites, with about 350 acres of additional land.
These projects are also expanding into chapters that have never completed a land protection project before. This summer the St Croix Valley Chapter completed its first acquisition of Alexander Savanna, a 40 acre oak savanna and dry prairie complex, just south of River Falls, WI. that the chapter has been managing for several decades. TPE, having a sound land protection program, and staff able to support the chapter with the necessary technical experience, was invaluable to successfully protecting Alexander Savanna. Accreditation helped significantly by assisting us to develop our land protection program to national standards over the past several years.
TPE received high marks for our well managed financial system, which is quite complex given our chapter oriented structure. This distinction is not going un-noticed, as more and more donors are establishing endowments with TPE. In 2017, we saw a $250,000 increase in our Land Management Endowment alone. In addition, members are thinking of TPE within their estate plans, and with our financial management system our donors have the assurance they are working with a land trust that is fiscally responsible to national standards.
Accreditation is a systematic and objective verification process that results in public recognition of organizations demonstrating compliance with established quality standards. Voluntary accreditation is one of the best- known forms of self-regulation. Accreditation programs generally involve highly structured, formal review processes and reliance on established standards.
Generally, accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land across the nation – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.
The Prairie Enthusiasts is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance's most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts.
About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000 member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices.
The Alliance's leadership serves the entire land trust community – “our work in the nation's capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. Connect with us online at www.landtrustalliance.org.”
Here at TPE's chapter support office, we are excited to share this news with you. We work hard every day to carry the mission of TPE forwards. This notoriety and recognition show our work is paying off and our approach is on target. You are a big part of this story with all you do to support the organization and TPE's mission. Thank you!