Mindy Otto is the new Executive Director of Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, which was established in 1995 by a group of local citizens concerned about unchecked logging and property division activities. Their work includes public advocacy, education, land acquisition, resource management and water quality protection. Since 2003 the organization has dedicated years of time and resources to protecting the watershed from the multilayered threat of sulfide mining. The Yellow Dog River Watershed lies in eastern Baraga and western Marquette Counties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The area is known as the Huron Peninsula and is one of the last wild areas in the state.
Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve recently took advantage of Freshwater Future’s Insight Services—low-cost or no cost trainings, events, and coaching services to build the skills and success of organizations. Here is what Mindy had to say about the program:
Freshwater Future (FF):How did the Insight program help your group transition smoothly from the former Executive Director to you, the new Executive Director?
Mindy Otto (MO): The transition is still ongoing, and so I still regularly talk with Freshwater Future staff. They help by giving feedback through email, talking with me individually and also by working with the board. We were able to create a strategic plan and fundraising plan with Freshwater Future’s help. These were really helpful to me because they were good guiding documents for a new person coming in to have. They provided the whole picture of the organization and our goals. Freshwater Future staff are very supportive and easy to reach via phone or email for any questions I have.
FF: What changes has your Board of Directors made after they participated in the Insight program?
MO: Your staff came and did a board development workshop, about 7 hours long. The board received training on how a highly functioning board operates, talked about governance and the role of the board. We discussed fundraising and eventually divided the board into committees— that was a big step for us! We’re still undergoing transition, but
the seeds have been planted to move in the right direction. I’m looking forward to some really good changes.
FF: What were the most helpful types of information or new skill sets your group received from Freshwater Future during the program?
MO: We learned how highly functioning nonprofits operate, and how a great system would work. It was really nice to have an outside person provide expertise and information to the board. We also appreciated looking to how Freshwater Future operates as inspiration. We got some great ideas just by observing you! For example, we can use technology to our advantage to assist our work. I really love working with Freshwater Future, and always look forward to our calls.
To take advantage of Freshwater Future’s Insight Services and apply for a grant towards the cost of these services, go to freshwaterfuture.org/grantprograms/insight-services-grant-program.html