Strategic Plan 2015-2020

NOTE: In 2017, the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative became the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative. The plan here will be updated in 2017 to reflect the regional expansion of the VMC, in the meantime, the text of the plan is left to reference the VMC

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process

Over the past decade the VMC has undertaken several visioning and review activities. In 2001 the VMC Operations Guide was updated by VMC staff with input from the Steering and Advisory Committees. In 2002, an external review team with members from the Missouri Department of Conservation, US Geological Survey and US Forest Service convened to review the VMC program and activities . This was followed in 2004 by an internal review of VMC staff positions and duties, and overall VMC activities. In March 2014, the VMC Steering Committee decided to initiate a strategic planning process to revisit the VMC mission statement, examine how it aligns with the missions and goals of our partners and identify a set of priority activities for VMC focus moving forward.

VMC's mission and goals most directly align with the goals and objectives laid out in the 2010 Forest Resources Plan published by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR). That Plan delineates five major areas of concentration and concern including: biological diversity, forest health and productivity, forest products and ecosystem services, land ethic and legal, institutional and economic framework; all of which some VMC goals and activities address. The Forest Resources Plan's format is used to write the federal narrative to request VMC funding from US Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry and to prepare status reports to FPR from UVM.

Unifying themes across most, if not all, of our partnering organizations included conservation of forested landscapes, maintaining biodiversity (plant and animal), protecting rare and endangered species, promoting recreational opportunities in forested landscapes, promoting sustainable forest management practices to mitigate threats and protect and maintain water quality, maintaining resiliency and promoting adaptation of plant and animal species in the face of climate change. For a full list of priorities and objectives for each of VMC's partnering organizations and how VMC contributes to the success of these objectives, see Appendix C.

Informed by these previous planning activities as well as the strategic planning undertaken by each of the primary partnering organizations that comprise the VMC (see inset), we outlined an iterative evaluation of the VMC mission, objectives and activities in 2014 to sharpen our focus, strengthen relationships across organizations, and ensure continued relevance and impact of the collaborative. This process is summarized on the next page.

For a more complete discussion of the process, including intermediate steps and a full analysis and summary of the Strategic Planning Electronic Survey, see Appendix A.

Table 2. Overview of the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative Strategic Planning Process
Advisory Committee Working Session April 18, 2014
  • The VMC Advisory Committee reviewed and edited an initial list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOTs) generated by the VMC staff, reviewed the current VMC mission statement and proposed changes, and drafted an initial set of goals for later consideration by the Strategic Planning Committee.
Strategic Planning Committee RetreatJune 5, 2014
  • VMC held a retreat for the Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of cooperators and leaders from state and federal partnering organizations. This group defined a set of high-level objectives and related activities that they felt VMC should pursue over the next ten years in order to meet the larger mission and goals.
Cooperative-Wide Survey Jul-Aug, 2014
  • To solicit feedback on these draft objectives and related activities, a quantitative survey was delivered to cooperators in August 2014. The survey asked VMC collaborators to identify priority focus areas by asking them to prioritize the draft objectives, rank specific activities where VMC should focus its efforts, and identify collaborator needs.
Steering Committee Review, Public Release Oct – Dec, 2014
  • The VMC 2015–2020 Strategic plan was reviewed and approved by the VMC Steering Committee and released to the public in December leading up to the VMC Annual Conference.
Review and Recalibration 2015 – 2020
  • Looking forward, VMC staff will conduct a detailed preliminary review in 2017 to determine if steady, significant and measurable progress is being made toward meeting its goals. If progress is deemed unsatisfactory at that point, new steps will be implemented to help get VMC on track to achieve all goals by 2020.
  • In 2020, the VMC will reconvene a new Strategic Planning Committee to revisit the goals, objectives and activities of the organization in light of the changing environment.