Despite challenges Sierra Nevada Alliance accomplished goals
For many nonprofits, 2020 presented challenges that forced organizations to adapt and even rethink operations. Despite having to cancel or move fundraising, educational and outreach events to a virtual platform, Sierra Nevada Alliance was able to accomplish their goals.
“It’s been stressful, not easy by any means,” said Executive Director Jenny Hatch. “Growth is uncomfortable, but we got out of our comfort zone.”
Hatch says they were blessed to get recovery grants and resources so they could hold on to their staff throughout the pandemic. SNA serves roughly 30 conservation groups with over 40 employees.
While many events moved to an online platform successfully, Hatch says that they missed being able to connect directly with the community. SNA’s annual Earth Day celebration is usually a key event but it was adapted to help keep the connection with the community. The 2020 Sierra Nevada Alliance Biennial Conference also moved to a virtual platform.
“While networking is best in-person, we made the best of it,” she said. “We are lucky to have the technology we have during a pandemic.”
Throughout the year, SNA held the virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a virtual watercolor series, monthly webinars and grant writing workshops.
The alliance’s Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership, also known as the SNAP Program, completed it’s 13th year and had 56 members at 20 different nonprofits, environmental agencies and tribes across 16 different cities throughout the Sierra.
The 2019-20 SNAP cohort, collectively serving over 37,000 hours in the term, restored over 800 acres, monitored almost 2,000 sites, educated over 9,000 children and community members through virtual platforms, engaged over 1,000 new volunteers, and raised over $54,000 and over $2,800 in in-kind resources for host site service projects.
In February, SNA along with other organizations hosted “Sierra Day in the Capital” which was the first event of its kind in over 10 years. About 55 volunteers and members spent the day learning about conservation opportunities in the legislative cycle and met with 45 Assembly and Senate representatives.
Despite the pandemic, SNA successfully launched their Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program which is aimed at mentoring future leaders in forestry health in the Sierra while building a workforce development program to encourage land managers, local agencies and nonprofits to work together to create forest health and wildfire prevention projects.
During the term, fellows managed millions of dollars in grant funded restoration projects, monitored and restored over 2,000 acres in the Sierra, engaged with over 100 different stakeholder groups and individuals, planned projects, conducted assessments and attended workshops, prescribed fires and several other important training’s.
“Tremendous work went into forest restoration,” said Hatch.
In the summer of 2020, SNA staff, board members and SNAP alumni members also formed a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee to create a dialogue for SNA’s role in a cultural inclusive workplace.
Another success for SNA in 2020 was the adoption of the Climate Action Plan. In October, South Lake Tahoe City Council, approved the plan that will help steer to the goal of 100% renewable energy. The plan creates a framework that will help track greenhouse emissions with a plan to reduce them.
While the year has several accomplishments for the nonprofit, Hatch says the economic impact of the pandemic will continue to impact them and they will continue to adapt creatively to raise funds.
For 2021, SNA plans to keep “the flames stoked” for their Take Care Tahoe stewardship campaign across the Sierra.
“There is lots more to be done,” she said.
To read more about SNA’s vision or to donate visit, https://sierranevadaalliance.org/
Cheyanne Neuffer is a Staff Writer with the Tahoe Daiy Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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