What’s Going On? — Info from the Board
Membership Renewal and Other Membership Matters
It’s that time again! AOA’s LINK newsletter will be mailed to members toward the end of November and will include the membership renewal information for 2018. Renewals can be made online through the website at www.alpacainfo.com/renew. Please take care of your renewal as soon as you receive your newsletter, and consider making an upgrade in your membership level. You could be a big help to the association by encouraging a former member to rejoin or helping a newbie in the business become an AOA member.
With your membership renewal notice, there also will be some questions for you to answer about the number of alpacas owned and registered by your farm. Gathering this information is a first step toward building a new census of alpacas in the U.S., so please help us with your responses.
Along with the membership renewal rollout in December, we will be rolling out several changes in AOA’s technology system, such as an improvement for updating your herd data. There also will be some changes in the EPD search-by-percentile ranking and in the ranking chart. You’ll be getting instructions on these updated elements, as well as other minor tweaks in our search and reporting systems.
On another membership front, your involvement is needed in our committees. Currently, we are looking for volunteers to expand the Government and Industry Relations Committee, the newly-designated standing Membership Committee, and the Ad Hoc Youth Committee that is working on ways to get more young people involved in our industry. If you’d like to help your association and industry by being a part of these committees, please let us know of your interest and send in the disclosure form that can be sourced at www.alpacainfo.com/committee-disclosure.
Board Work Plan for 2017–2018
This year, your board has set for itself an ambitious work plan that supports our current strategic plan and the priorities that have been in place.
Primary in our work plan is the rebuilding of our association’s membership. This includes re-evaluating fee structures, considering incentives to attract new members, and determining how to re-engage former members. Rebuilding our membership will bring increased revenue to the association for programs that you value and initiatives that you’d like for us to pursue.
Our work plan also includes a greater promotion of and support for fiber. We will be revamping the annual fleece event, working collaboratively with fiber partners, and looking at branding U.S. fiber, setting grade standards, and tracking fiber pricing.
We also will be increasing our attention on national marketing and advertising initiatives that will benefit the association, its affiliates, and member farms. This will include a variety of strategies, tactics, and approaches; such as the USA Today “Feel the Difference” advertising and the American Farmer programming that have multiplier applications for us.
As an association, we will work more diligently in support of those who wish to pursue alpaca food products and other aspects of our livestock industry.
Supporting member participation in the international marketplace is included in our work plan. This entails developing a new census of alpacas in the U.S., exploring the idea of a separate EPD program for alpacas outside the U.S., and having a discussion of pros and cons for reopening the registry.
Supporting needed research, education about fiber and alternative products, and other industry-wide education initiatives can be done through a charitable foundation. Exploring this opportunity also is in our work plan.
Another topic in our work plan is a review of AOA’s technology systems, including show registrations, to identify and prioritize improvements that would benefit members and bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness.
Lastly, the board will begin developing a new strategic plan for 2019 and beyond. We will be meeting to assess the status, achievements, and shortfalls of the current plan that is in place through next calendar year. We will be determining a process for sharing the board’s assessment and recommendations for the next five-year plan and how best to gather member comment and input.
Can we accomplish all of this in a year? No promises, but we might surprise ourselves as to just how much we can accomplish, and we’ve already got the ball rolling.
We welcome your thoughts on the work plan that we’ve set. You can contact board members directly by email or phone or use AOA’s online contact form.
2018 Halter and Fleece Events
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2018 AOA National Halter Show that will be held March 22–25, in Peoria, Illinois. Our sponsoring farm is Fun in the Country Alpacas, owned by Nancy Billington and Kim Les. After the national show in Peoria, the event will be held alternating years in Denver, Colorado, and Ft. Wayne, Indiana, starting with Denver in 2019.
Our national fleece event will undergo a significant revamp and name change in 2018. Expansion plans are being made to include artists and vendors from other fiber industries, more classrooms and demonstration workshops, a marketplace for members to sell product, fashion shows, designer and textile interaction, and a possible mill tour. Our yet-to-be-named fiber expo will be held at the Wilson County Exposition Center in Lebanon, Tennessee, just outside Nashville, on July 13–15, 2018.
Marketing and Advertising
AOA will showcase the alpaca industry in a promotional segment that will be broadcast on American Farmer on November 28 at 8:30 a.m. EST, its regular time slot on the RFD-TV network. American Farmer reaches 60 million households. Our nine-minute segment is designed to educate the public about alpacas in U.S. agriculture and to attract more people to become part of the alpaca industry. AOA owns the footage that will be broadcast, and 30-second commercial segments will be created from the piece for airing on other networks in markets across the country.
Starting in December, advertising sales in Alpacas Magazine will be brought in-house and handled by AOA staff. Special pricing for ads in the 2018 issues of the magazine will be offered during our membership renewal period in December and January. Anyone buying three ads of any size at the time of renewal will receive a fourth ad of the same size for free. Platinum, gold, and silver benefactors will receive other discounts for ad placements.
Further information on Alpacas Magazine advertising will be announced through an AlpacaGram.
AOA Staffing and Office Hours
Please join us in welcoming Angela Nosal to AOA as our event and member services coordinator. Angela has experience in both corporate and nonprofit industries and comes to our association from her previous employment with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, where she was involved with their annual event that had over 50 vendors and 20,000 attendees.
Again, if you missed the announcement, AOA’s office will be open on Fridays during the show season in November and again February through May 2018 to better serve you during the show season. Only one more halter show this year—The Royal Alpaca Challenge, then 2018 kicks off with TXOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and the Buckeye Alpaca Show in February.
Best wishes everyone for your holiday season!
Your Board of Directors