Thoughts of a Departing Chair

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Thoughts of a Departing Chair by Jacqui Glisson

As I step back as Chair of the Board of Directors of IBA clg, and also as a Director I am looking back at where we have come from and looking forward to where we may be over the next few years. Following our formation in 2017 much has been done to consolidate our position. We wanted to learn from the mistakes that had been made by others prior to our formation, we wanted to change the way things were managed and how funds were used. We wanted transparency, engagement with our membership and the promotion of the craft of beekeeping amongst all our members and all beekeepers on our island.

Some of our aims have been achieved to a large extent. With others there is still work to be done. We have managed to significantly reduce the cost of membership by stringent controls on spending, perhaps on some occasions going slightly overboard with controls for fear of criticism. No organisation, no matter how well intentioned, will manage to please all their members all the time. 

As with all large organisations, communication is key to success. We have a newsletter/magazine that is free to all, including non-members. There have been criticisms of our newsletter, about the fact that it is currently available only online, about the frequency of publication and about its format. We are about to publish a hard copy for distribution to all members and hope to continue with at least one hard copy every year. But in order to get out regular editions of the newsletter we need content.

Getting members to contribute articles has proven very difficult. What we need is members to submit articles on all sorts of bee related topics. You don’t need any qualifications or even beekeeping experience to write an article. News of activities from Associations, beginner’s experiences on courses and with their first hive of bees, along with all the usual beekeeping advice, all of these, and much more can be the stuff of a good article. Without articles being submitted it is difficult to publish.

 I must thank those that have regularly contributed articles up to now. I also want to thank our former editor/publisher/article-writer and article chaser-in-chief, Jacqui, who put in so much work into establishing the newsletter and publishing it for all, Steve our go-to IT guy who has taken over the online publishing work, and our new editorial team of Myfanwy (editor) and Lotte (Design of printed magazine), all of whom are giving of their time freely to get the magazine out to you.

Change of personnel is vital to the ongoing success of IBA clg. When people stay too long at the helm the organisation can go stale. If members can see that volunteering is not a lifelong commitment, and that after a few years others will be there to take their place, then maybe more people will come forward. Yes, we need people with beekeeping experience and knowledge, but we also need people with other skills, IT skills, PR skills, management and organisation skills, education – particularly adult education, all these areas will contribute to the success of IBA. 

Sharing the load is also important. All of those that have been involved in the IBA since its inception have been volunteers. None of our Directors, past or present, are in it for the money! 

The last two beekeeping seasons have been like no other for obvious reasons. Some local associations have found it very difficult to keep meetings and courses going. Others have continued unabated. Why is that? I certainly don’t have an answer. All we can do is continue as best we can and hope for a return to normal in the not-too-distant future.

So where to from here? I welcome our three new Directors, Damien, Caroline, and Andrew and wish them well. The job of the board is to manage the business of the IBA between General Meetings. We must give them the trust and the space to do that in the best interest of the IBA. They need our support, not our public criticism. The Board are not above criticism, but the proper place for that is at a General Meeting. If you want to influence the policies of the organisation then allow yourself to be nominated as a Director, or volunteer to take part in some way with the Association. Engage more with your local association where you can gain and give information. 

The future of beekeeping in Ireland looks reasonably safe. In the future perhaps we will all get on better together, regardless of what kind of bees you keep or what organisation you belong to. I have found beekeepers in general to be good people, very much aware of the natural environment. I believe that very many hobby keepers are neither aware of, nor concerned with which national organisation their association is affiliated to… The vast majority of beekeepers just want to keep bees, maybe get some honey, and want to keep as far as possible from beekeeping politics as they possibly can. Maybe all of us that are involved at a national level in all organisations should endeavour to heal the wounds of the past and build a positive foundation for the volunteers of the future. Who knows where that could lead?

 

(The views expressed in the article above are those of the author)

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