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December President's Message

Friday, December 1, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sheldon Nicolle
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December 1, 2017



Dear Member,



This is my final monthly message as your President. It has been nearly 8 years since I started serving our leadership team, and over the summer I notified the board of Directors that I didn't intend to serve another term. I'm going to continue as a member of the committees that I serve, but wanted to see new energy and new ideas emerge from NAFA Officers and Directors, and I believe it's important to step back before burning out. The board wisely chose to appoint Vice President Nicolle to serve as NAFA President for the 2018-2019 term, and chose Canadian Director Martin Geleynse to be his Vice President. I can't wait to see what the board will accomplish with the leadership that these two fine men will bring to the table. Sheldon's pragmatic, get-it-done attitude, combined with Martin's sophistication, intellect, and diplomacy will surely mean good things for our organization in the coming years. I fully expect that we will continue to experience positive regulatory reform, coupled with the continued growth in membership numbers that we've benefitted from in recent years.

There are a couple of other changes to our leadership team that I need to report. Central Director, Don Roeber is stepping down after many years of service, and Mountain Director Paul Domski is also stepping away after an even longer period of service to the board. Both Don and Paul have been what I like to call "heavy lifters." There is a belief that the majority of work accomplished by any board is achieved by a minority of its members. I'm here to tell you that Paul and Don have been overachievers on our leadership team, and were looked up to and admired by 

their fellow Directors as well as many of the constituents in their regions. I'm not going to attempt to list all of their contributions here for fear of what it would do to the word count of this message, but I am going to suggest that if you reside in their regions you should consider sending them a message to let them know how much you appreciate their service to NAFA and that you do whatever you can do to support the incoming Directors who are taking those two seats on the board. Paul will be replaced by Jenni Buckley of Colorado, and Don's replacement is Robert Huber from Oklahoma. Jenni and Robert were both with us at the field meet in Nebraska, and attended our board meeting. They are equally eager to volunteer their talents and I'm sure they will make positive contributions. (Please see the testimonial from Director-elect Buckley below)

The field meet in Kearney was a huge success. Weather was really excellent. Lots of game was brought to bag. Evening speakers were enlightening. The hotel staff was extremely accommodating and genuinely enjoyed having us on their property. Area landowners extended lots of generous hospitality. We were blessed with an excellent showing from so many vendors offering great quality products of all kinds. Raffle donations were simply amazing. Camaraderie, which is truly the highlight of any meet, was top-notch. There is very little that could have been done to make this meet a bigger success. Thanks again, to everyone who made the effort to attend, and to those who contributed from afar in a great number of ways. I continue to be impressed with the community-minded attitudes and various skills of our members. I'm so proud of everything that NAFA continues to accomplish with nothing more than the talents and volunteerism offered up by our members.

While at the field meet, I had every intention of taking a few minutes at the microphone to brag about all of the accomplishments we've achieved in recent years. Prior to the Friday night banquet, I actually spent a couple of hours in my hotel room, reading through the President's Messages that Bob Welle and I distributed during the last several years. I started scrawling copious notes onto paper, in preparation, and somewhere along the way, I realized that I simply couldn't take the podium and regale attendees with such a list because, quite frankly, it was just too long. That aside, I do feel that it's appropriate to share some of that information with you here, as a reminder of what can be accomplished by the members of a 501c7 membership organization such as ours. For over 55 years, we've made strides in furthering the rights and privileges of falconers all over the continent, and we've done it by working together despite occasional differences of opinion, because at the end of the day, we all want what's right for falconry, and we all want to protect it for future generations.

NAFA is the largest falconry membership organization in the world, and in recent years, we've solidified our vision for serving the needs of the entire community of practitioners. We've taken major steps toward ensuring the continued protection of falconry through the establishment of a 501c3 entity (The Falconry Fund) for conservation and education through charitable donations, as well as the incorporation of a 501c4 entity for advocacy and defense that is close to being officially incorporated and launched. These are big steps, and have required a vast amount of philosophical coalescence.

We've vastly increased access to wild-taken peregrine falcons, and are already involved in conversations to further expand that access. This would not have happened without a laser-sharp focus on the goal, combined with development and utilization of positive relationships with biologist members of regional flyway councils as well as government employees of the agencies that regulate us. No other organization on the continent has the relationship building skills and history of efficacy in this realm that NAFA brings to the table. We are truly a multi-national organization and are currently involved in significant efforts to protect Mexican falconry as well as continued efforts to better Canadian falconry (such as the recent push to legalize wild take in the Province of Quebec). We have finally gathered significant political momentum on the golden eagle issue, and have garnered a lot of support on Capitol Hill for the changes we are pushing for in that vein. Big news on eagles is forthcoming. We've also got a committee of folks working on documenting the history of falconry on this continent to further bolster our claim that we are indeed an intangible cultural heritage community, and even though our three nations may never be officially recognized by UNESCO as ICH signatories, the work of our committee members goes a long way toward strengthening our archives and preparing to defend the community from the assaults of organizations driven by a looming anti-hunting rhetoric. Through our Small Grants Funding, we've been proud to be able to support a multitude of raptor-research and falconry-related projects. We also contribute annually to the IAF and the Archives of Falconry. We donate to state and provincial meetings. Through our Public Information Officer and her team, we have developed an audience of over 10,000 friends of falconry, and have access to copious avenues of support from that resource. We identify and edify falconers who are practicing the art at a high level, and are always eager to elevate members, young and old, for accomplishments that they deserve recognition for. We have hosted and/or co-hosted so many excellent field meets, and regional meets where members get together to build and solidify friendships, share ideas, and learn from one another. The list really does go on and on, and I'm just so proud of NAFA as an organization. We really are all in this together. Let's be sure to stay that way. There is strength in numbers. Community is what it's all about. Thank you all for your continued support. I just logged on to our website today and paid for four more years of membership. I hope that you'll all join me and do the same, and I hope to see each and every one of you at a field meet in the years to come.


Happy Hawking.




















TESTIMONIAL - Jenni Buckley


I’m proud to be a member of an organization that fights tirelessly for the rights of falconers. By working together and developing relationships with other organizations, such as law enforcement, regulatory entities, and raptor-centric conservation groups, we have a better chance of preserving this way of life, not only for ourselves, but for all of the future generations to come.

NAFA is also synonymous with family for me. I have met many outstanding people over the years as a member and attending NAFA field meets. These people have surpassed the role of friendship for me, and I love being able to share this passion with other like-minded people.

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