Start a chapter
Local chapters across the state promote the Native Plant Society of Texas mission. All enjoy the strengths and legal benefits of being one incorporated non-profit organization, but chapters select projects according to interests of local members, elect their own officers, and manage their own finances, while the Society office in Fredericksburg handles common administrative work and is the center point for statewide programs.
Why start a chapter?
Forming a chapter is an opportunity to meet and work with people with similar interests, both locally and at the state level. Longtime members value the friendships that develop within an organization devoted to a shared goal. Whether budding amateur gardeners or professionals in the field, members have information, experiences, and enthusiasm to share.
Chapters offer programs that help educate the general public as well as members within the community about the rich botanical heritage of Texas and their specific area. Chapter activities might include regular or specially scheduled speaker programs, meetings to exchange plants and ideas, seminars on plant propagation and identification, planting projects around public buildings, the development of plant lists and herbaria, and field trips.
Each chapter also has direct representation on the State Board. Each chapter president (or another individual selected by the membership of that chapter) serves as a director on the State Board.
What are the criteria for forming a chapter?
You may form an “official” chapter by attracting a minimum of ten members who join the state organization and choose to affiliate with your chapter. (Note that a family membership, though more than one person, “counts” only as one member.) Once your chapter is established, the State Office will rebate 15% of all dues received from the members in your chapter. These rebates, paid on a quarterly basis, are intended to help fund your chapter activities. They are also a “thank you” for bringing in new members to our Society and carrying the native plant message to your community.
What are the steps for starting a chapter?
- Contact the State Office. Our VP-Chapter Liaison will work with you and can call on nearby members to help you.
- Plan an organizing meeting. We can supply you with a printout and mailing labels of Society members in your vicinity. You may wish to contact those within reasonable driving distance for help in organizing the meeting, and inform those further away about your intentions to form a chapter. Make contacts with any resource people available locally: extension agents, teachers, garden clubs, park and nature center administrators, environmental-type news editors for the local paper.
- Host a meeting for all those who are interested in forming a chapter. You might call this the steering committee. Give each person defined responsibilities. Use the “generic” bylaws from the State Office as a starting point for discussion and assign someone to write the final copy for the public organizational meeting. Your new chapter will need officers (see ELECTION OF OFFICERS below); assign someone to head up a small nominating committee to prepare a slate of officers to be voted on at the public meeting. Someone else should be assigned to publicity. You may need a volunteer to seek a speaker for your program. You’ll need refreshments and a meeting room. All this should be done before the larger meeting is called. Give yourself at least four weeks so you can generate adequate publicity.
- The importance of advertising through public media has been mentioned. You might also want to put out flyers and posters as well. College botany classes, garden clubs, local service clubs, churches, etc. might be your targets. Obtain a biography of your speaker (and photo if possible). This will gain attention and help draw a good attendance.
- Request printed material from the State Office for distribution at the meeting: Membership brochures, sample issues of the NPSOT News, and other current material, such as registration forms for the State Annual Meeting and Fall Symposium if it is coming up soon.
- Have a sign-in sheet for all attendees, with name, address, phone number, and email address, so you can send them notices of future meetings.
- Ask for donations to help defray expenses, keeping track of all your contributions and expenditures. Once you have become an “official” chapter (that is, you have a minimum of 10 members), you will be given $200 to help defray the startup costs.
How do you proceed in organizing your chapter?
Don’t be afraid to organize with a small group. A formally organized group that meets regularly may attract new members more easily than a group still in the planning stages.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS: Once the chapter is “official”, with the required 10 memberships, you’ll need to elect a president and other officers. Your president or other chapter representative then becomes a voting member of the State Board, which meets quarterly (January, April, July, and October). You will also need a treasurer who will be responsible for preparing a chapter financial report for the State Office on a quarterly basis. Most chapters also choose a secretary, and chairpersons for programs, publicity, and other functions depending on your group’s size and scope of activity. You may write your own bylaws as long as they do not conflict with those of the state organization. In any event, do define and limit the terms of office. Try to place all non-officers on committees, to involve everyone and to help share responsibility for programs, outings, and administration. Please send a copy of any bylaws you adopt and the names of your officers to the State Office.