February E-news: Announcement
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Announcement

Jenn Battles’ Resignation 

“To seek out beauty in our work is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task.” – David Whyte 

Dear AEROship Riders –

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you I will not be returning to my staff position at AERO. There are a number of reasons for my departure, which I outline below. But before doing so, I’d like to express my gratitude for our time together – for the stories you have graciously shared with me, for the friendship and candor you have offered, and for allowing me to be such an intimate part of your lives, your businesses, and your dreams for the future.

In my short time with AERO, I have had the good fortune to meet many of you – at Expos, on farm tours, or in coffee shops across the state. You have been generous with your knowledge, offered feedback and suggestions, and enthusiastically participated in AERO gatherings. Your stories of struggle and triumph live vividly in my mind. Your passion and creativity for the possibilities of regenerative agriculture, whole economies, and resilient communities humbles me and gives me hope for the future. I carry your stories with me in my heart, as priceless gifts from you, and from my time with AERO. Thank you.

After placing me on unpaid administrative leave to consider the matter, AERO’s Board of Directors has determined that I am no longer a good fit for the organization’s needs as they are today. They are correct in this determination. I am proud of the contributions I have made to AERO while working as your Executive Director. However, the demands of the role have exacted a personal and professional toll that I am unwilling to continue to pay. AERO’s financial position has not been strong for many years, and the work culture at AERO does not reflect our mission of sustainability. I did my best to address these issues in my time on staff, and while I feel important progress was made, I was not successful in eliminating these obstacles. My fervent hope is that AERO will overcome these challenges completely and thrive with new leadership.

AERO’s vision for the future of Montana and for agriculture is alive in you, the members. I believe in your vision and in the work you are doing each day to transform our world into something better. And while this is a sad moment for me, I leave the AEROship with a full heart and wish all of you well. In my own small ways, I’ll be continuing to shape the foodscapes I inhabit, and the communities to which I belong. I invite you to keep in touch with me, as we all move forward. You can reach me via email: [email protected]

With Deep Gratitude –

Jenn

Programs 
Abundant Montana Directory Farmers Market Listings

Attention Farmers Market managers: register your market on the Abundant Montana map. This one-stop registration provides critical information to the Montana Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and lists your market on Montana’s sustainable and local food map. Complete this form to register your market for the 2020 season. All markets must complete a new registration. When AERO’s new website, including a refreshed Abundant MT Map, is live this spring, we will provide you the opportunity to create a login and password to manage your own Abundant MT listing.


Grow Montana Coalition
Grow Montana, Montana’s food policy coalition, convened on January 7, 2020 at NCAT in Butte to renew efforts of the Food Policy Council. The meeting attendees were a diverse representation of organizations with an interest in developing a strong Montana food and agriculture economy.

Attendees shared organizational visions for this strong economy and together outlined the next steps for GMT. Founding members recounted the history of GMT’s past successes and challenges. The group identified funding and staffing needs and, in the afternoon, we had a productive discussion of potential policies to pursue during the 2021 legislative session.

During the meeting, we discussed membership structure on a three tier system:

  • Tier 1. Steering Committee the most involved members. Responsibilities: Governance of the coalition. Execute goals, objectives, & activities of the strategic plan. Attend monthly meetings.
  • Tier 2. Active Network Membership Governmental, non-profit, and private organizations who share GMT’s mission & goals. Responsibilities: Receive updates on GMT’s activities. Share info with their membership (outreach). Provide suggestions/ideas to steering committee. Testify at hearings. Attend every other month in-person meetings (call-in available)
  • Tier 3. Allies Groups or individuals who are policy or project allies. Responsibilities: Provide input and participate in strategically-selected activities that related to specific policies or projects that align with the group/individual’s strategic goals. Attend as needed.

Conversations continue to establish funding levels, responsibilities, and membership benefits for each tier.

Please reach out to Lindsay Ganong at AERO ([email protected]) or Maura Henn at NCAT ([email protected]) with any questions about how your organization may help us work towards policy changes that support Montana’s farmers and eaters. This spring, the Steering Committee will meet and full Coalition will continue to work towards identifying policy priorities for the 2021 legislative session. Stay tuned!


Join AERO in the 21-Day Racial Equity in the Food System Habit Building Challenge March 30-April 19, 2020
New England Food Solution’s (NEFS) 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (aka the Racial Equity Challenge) is simple: During every morning of the Challenge, you’ll receive an email “prompt” with a short reading, video or audio file. You are encouraged to take about ten to fifteen minutes each day with the material in the prompt. You have the option to log into NEFS’s online forums (links will be provided) if you’d like to discuss the prompts in a moderated environment. As part of our 2020 goal to develop board and staff cultural competence to prepare for growing partnership and membership, AERO is registered as a group. We plan to host weekly conversations following NEFS’s newly-developed facilitation guide. Share your experience on social media using the hashtag #FSNEEquityChallenge. Registration is now open for the 2020 Racial Equity Challenge! March 30 through April 19, 2020.


Wild Dinners
In 2020, with the help of engaged members and volunteers, AERO and Montana Wildlife Federation are working with local partners in Helena and Missoula to bring AERO members Wild Dinners. Look for save the dates and official details soon!


Fundraising Report 

End of the Year Campaign
We made it! We raised $47,691 thanks to all of our generous contributors.

Thanks to ALL our AERO supporters – including donors, new members and sustaining givers, we exceeded our End Of Year  campaign goal! THANK YOU for your faith and trust in this amazing organization and for continuing to hold the vision with us for a sustainable Montana. Together we continue to have an impact!

AERO Awarded Western Extension Risk Management Education (WERME) Funding 
AERO, food safety consultants from Food and Agriculture Development Centers (FADCs), and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) have partnered to reduce the financial and legal risks associated with selling cottage foods, and reduce potential excesses of plastic packaging at farmers’ markets in Montana. AERO and partners will write internal rules for the interpretation of the Cottage Food law and present and film a joint training with registered sanitarians and cottage food producers. To inform the development of this training, please tell us what questions you have about how to produce, process, package, and market cottage foods. Specifically, what differences have you seen in enforcement of cottage food exemptions between counties across our state? Send your comments and questions to Lindsay at [email protected]

475 Supporters purchased or renewed AERO license plates in Montana in 2019
License plate supported $6500 income in 2019. Keep AERO in mind as you renew your license plates this year. Your contributions support AERO’s work directly and raises awareness of AERO statewide.

Thank You!
Thank you all for being our inspiration.
We look forward to a 2020 working with you and your friends and neighbors across Montana, building resilient, community-powered local food systems  – if you eat, you’re in! 

Keep Building a Sustainable Montana

 

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #333, Helena MT 59601