There are times in an organization’s life when organizational reflection and perhaps even recalibration seem appropriate. Some believe ANPR is at that point and has been for some time. After starting ANPR in 1977, the founding 33 members and those of their NPS generation were the leadership and the movers and shakers of ANPR for its first 15-17 years. In the early and mid-1990s a generational shift began to occur with those of us who became NPSers in the 1980s and early 1990s stepping into primary leadership and operational positions of ANPR. It has been just over 15 years since our first turnover occurred, and by that earlier timetable it is time for a second turnover. If that is an accurate prognostication, then it’s time for us to re-examine ANPR’s mission, leadership and structure to evaluate whether or not ANPR is still relevant and desired by today’s NPS workforce and those who support the NPS.
What other clues might indicate that organizational revitalization is needed? Here are some that I see. The last letter to the editor written by any member for Ranger was in the fall of 2008. The last professional opinion submitted for approval to the Board of Directors was also in 2008. Many years we bring in 200-300 new members, but we also lose that many existing members who decide not to renew. While 300 new members certainly is a significant number at our current membership level, compared to the 20,000+ NPS employees who are potential members, it is not all that significant.
Last year at Ranger Rendezvous 32 in Gettysburg, following a motion from the floor, a work group was formed to examine ANPR’s present status and to bring together ideas on how we might move toward a revitalized organization that attracts a greater percentage of the NPS work force in all disciplines and that delivers increased positive, articulable outcomes for NPS employees and the National Park System. Their report is the primary focus of this issue of Ranger. My perception is that it is a fine action plan, and I publicly commend the work group for producing it and for their many hours of volunteer work.
The real question for you as an ANPR member is: Do you approve of its recommendations, and more importantly, what will you do personally to bring any of the recommendations to fruition? In the last year I have heard NPS Director Jon Jarvis say that while the Second Century Commission Report is a good thing that might serve the NPS well as a planning tool, what the NPS needs now is “to get the work done” and not necessarily more planning documents.
I think the same can be said for ANPR’s present circumstances. There are positive, actionable ideas in this report, as there are in our bylaws and in other formats, but it is time to produce results if we want ANPR to be relevant to rank-and-file NPS employees, NPS managers, and politicians and their staffs that oversee the NPS. Who among us will step forward and volunteer some portion of their time and expertise to move ANPR into its next generation?
In trying to write something inspirational and motivational as a lead-in for you to read this report, I reread some of my old issues of Ranger, specifically from the time period of the mid-1990s. In 1994 ANPR President Rick Gale wrote, “Who is going to do the work of the Association? It is time for a generational change to provide leadership, direction and guidance and to accomplish the work in the Association of National Park Rangers. It is time for the 30- or 40-somethings to grab hold, step up and assume leadership roles.”
The 21st Century ANPR Revitalization Report and Recommendations identifies many opportunities for every member of ANPR to step forward and reinvigorate our organization. Will you 21st century NPSers accept that challenge and answer the ANPR opportunities before you? Answer that question by reading the report (link here to the report), identifying one of the recommendations that you will help with, and then contacting any board member to get started.
— Scot McElveen