By Rick Juliusson, executive director
It’s been exactly one year since I started at MSHS as the new executive director. Starting a new job at the height of the pandemic was interesting—instead of meeting the team with homemade cupcakes at the office, I was treated on Day One to a 2-hour online meeting with the Finance Committee!
Things have improved over the last 365 days, including meeting (in person and virtually) the many kindred gardening spirits amongst our members, staff, board and supporters. I quickly learned that we have a deep sense of pride, tradition and identity as the hardy pioneers and innovators of northern gardening. We care about our community, our land, our health. We are passionate about plants and the people who grow them. I was shown that whatever new growth we envision must necessarily build upon this rich fertile soil we’ve developed over the past 155 years.
So in addition to building relationships and learning our culture—or perhaps growing out of that—we spent this past year crafting an exciting path for the next five years. This strategic plan gives us a shared vision and understanding of how we can grow the society’s impact and sustainability around the four pillars: education, community impact, member services, and capacity building. As we dive deeper into implementation, there will be more ways for our members, partners and community growers to get involved.
I think this shared vision is already bringing us together and drawing in positive energy. Donations went up 29% this past year (thank you!). Membership revenue increased 10%. Grants, government support and corporate sponsorships all increased. It’s something like Field of Dream’s famous line, “If you build it, they will come.” But in this case, it’s more like “If you dream it, they will come help build it.”
So thank you, friends, for the warm welcome, sage advice and steady support over this first year together. I am so excited to move into this second year of manifesting our vision, and to be growing the society in partnership with people who know the importance and the joy of gardening. We are living the true spirit of our new vision statement: Growing, together.
Rick Juliusson, executive director
P.S. I’m still waiting for my homemade welcome cupcakes, Joel! Even made some strawberry-rhubarb jam to go with them…