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A motion-blur photo of birds in flight. Ethereal photo of cranes in flight taken at the 2017 NANPA Regional Event at Bosque del Apache NWR. © Beth Huning

Ethereal photo of cranes in flight taken at the 2017 NANPA Regional Event at Bosque del Apache NWR. © Beth Huning

By Beth Huning, NANPA President

For the past 2-1/2 years the world, and NANPA, were forced to react in response to the pandemic. New ideas, new programs, and new opportunities were born out of the necessity to retreat and isolate. Thanks to the insight and quick action of the NANPA team, we were able to maintain our programs, albeit in somewhat different formats.

Looking back

I want to thank NANPA’s recent Past President, Dawn Wilson, for being a strong leader in unusual times. NANPA not only weathered the pandemic, but we thrived thanks to Dawn’s leadership. Her vision and business savvy enabled us to quickly retool our programs as well as complete our 5-year strategic plan. Dawn, we thank you for being the right leader at the right time.

We also thank Lisa Langell for her 5 years of service on the NANPA Board. Her problem-solving, creative programming, and business knowledge guided us as we converted NANPA programs from field-based to web-based. Former NANPA President, Tom Haxby, was recently elected to fill the remaining year in Lisa’s term. Thank you Lisa, and welcome back, Tom.

When forced to cancel or defer our in-person programs such as the regional events and the 2021 NANPA Summit, the NANPA Board, contractors and volunteers jumped into action, rapidly reprograming with the expertise of Membership Director, Teresa Ransdell and Marketing Director, Julie Patterson. Sadly, we said goodbye to each of them when they left NANPA for full-time job opportunities. But their influence remains in the programs described below.

Thanks to all NANPA leaders and volunteers, we made the following programmatic adaptations:

  • We converted our 2021 Summit into a virtual format. Over 350 NANPA members attended our first virtual Summit. The raving reviews inspired us to host an additional 1-day Virtual Summit this past March.
  • We expanded our webinar offerings to engage more leaders and members in our programs;
  • We launched new interactive Sip and Shares. More casual than a webinar, they are an opportunity for members to discuss and learn about topics of interest to nature photographers.
  • Our on-line presence was maintained through regular blog posts, https://nanpa.org/resources/blog/
  • The Nature Photographer, a new podcast was launched and can be found at https://nanpa.org/category/nanpa/podcast/
  • NANPA’s Expressions is now an interactive journal featuring the top 250 Showcase images, interviews with the winning photographers, and comments from the judges.

Have you logged in to NANPA’s new web site, http://www.nanpa.org? Hopefully you are finding it to be as user-friendly as it is beautiful.

The world’s largest collection of neolithic rock art is in southern Algeria at Tsili ‘N Anger National Park. © Beth Huning

Looking forward

Unlike some organizations that saw a drop-off in membership during the pandemic, NANPA has remained stable. We listened to our members, continued to retool, and sought ways to provide value under novel circumstances. NANPA is open for business with both our on-line programs and our field programs. Here are some upcoming ways you can participate in NANPA.

Enter NANPA’s 2023 Showcase contest! Submit your images through September 15 on the NANPA web site. Your images may so impress the judges as to be featured on our website, in our blog, and showcased in Expressions.

Plan to join us in person at the Nature Photography Summit May 3-7, 2023 in Tucson, AZ. The Summit team has been creating an experience that will inspire and immerse you in the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, from the hotel grounds, to our plenary and break-out sessions, to more than 20 field trip offerings. It is a chance to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and photograph with some of the best nature photographers and local leaders.

We just opened registration on two new regional events in the Adirondacks and at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Most post-pandemic regional events have filled to capacity with waiting lists. So register soon.

And little about me

So you can get to know your new president, I wanted to share a bit about my photography, my NANPA background, and how I hope to help NANPA re-emerge from the pandemic even stronger. I was Chair of NANPA’s Membership Committee in the early years. I served on the (then) Environment Committee and was the 2011 recipient of theNANPA Foundation’s Philip Hyde Conservation Grant for my conservation work and project, Turning the Tide: Restoring the Wetlands of San Francisco Bay and the California Coast.

A passionate photographer dating back to childhood, I set aside my dream of being a full-time nature photographer in exchange for a career in wildlife conservation. After leaving my position as a ranger-naturalist in Yosemite, I spent 18 years with the National Audubon Society managing Audubon’s waterfowl sanctuary, education, and wetlands protection programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. While with Audubon, I focused on strategic planning and fund raising as well as non-profit leadership and management. I was nominated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to become a Fellow in the inaugural class of Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation non-profit management program. All the while, I was photographing and leading natural history trips to far corners of the world, co-authoring and photographing for a series of publications for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, writing and contributing photographs to other books on gardening for birds, as well as selling photographic prints.

Other wetland activists and I grew battle-weary trying to stop urban development in wetlands. So we founded the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, the partnership of NGO’s, government agencies, landowners, and businesses to bring back and restore the wetlands. I left Audubon to manage the Joint Venture, where we developed a collaborative plan to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands. To generate public support for large-scale restoration, the Philip Hyde Grant leveraged funds to produce audio tours of wetland projects and several publications documenting restoration, including a book of my photographs distributed to decision-makers as a way to garner support. When I left the Joint Venture in 2020 to again focus on my photography, we had protected and restored more than 75,000 acres, the largest wetland restoration program outside of the Everglades, an amazing accomplishment only possible through shared vision and collaboration.

I have been NANPA President for a full month now. Although creativity comes with dreaming big, I also want to be realistic about where NANPA is as an organization and what can be achieved in a one-year term. As the world gets back to “normal”, normal may look a bit different in NANPA, as it now does in many aspects of our lives. My goals are three-fold:

  • apply lessons learned during the pandemic to deliver value to you and grow membership,
  • assess and evaluate both new and historic programs and determine priorities for the future, and
  • provide the most efficient operations possible to implement priority actions in NANPA’s strategic plan.

The strategic plan will become an active document to guide Board decisions moving out of the pandemic as we determine “what’s next” for NANPA. I invite you, as NANPA members, to contact me with your thoughts and ideas at bhuning@comcast.net. I hope to see you at our Summit in Tucson, at a regional event, or on line.

More neolithic rock art at Tsili ‘N Anger National Park in southern Algeria near the borders with Libya and Niger. © Beth Huning