The Road Ahead

A farewell message from NAISMA's outgoing executive director Belle Bergner: "The road ahead requires you."
mother and children outdoors

I cannot believe that 6 years have passed since I joined NAISMA. This warm, welcoming community has been a joy to be a part of, I am honored to have been able to support NAISMA’s mission, and I am confident that the organization’s wheels are solidly in place for the road ahead. 

Family selfie: spouses and two children

My personal road ahead involves taking a break for at least a few months to enjoy summer on Lake Michigan, spend time with my kids, recharge through rest, reading, lots of hikes and bike rides, walks with our new lab mix rescue dog, a big road trip back East to visit family, and taking time to refocus my professional goals. My son Sloan will be 9 this fall. I like to tell the story that he started walking and talking when he could start moving towards and playing with a ball (which was his first word). He plays any sport that involves a ball, loves music, and has started reading the Harry Potter series. My daughter Sofia will be 11 in the fall. She is a woman who knows what she wants, is a creative maker, animal lover, and book lover (preferably anything involving magic or mythology).

The road ahead for NAISMA is bright with opportunities to grow membership, program participation, and professional training. While we more than tripled membership since I started, from fewer than 200 to nearly 700 current members now, I am confident that NAISMA could triple membership again over the next two to three years. Our store is an opportunity to make prevention, outreach, and management tools easily accessible to managers and individuals. NAISMA currently has approximately 1,500-2,000 store sales annually, but we know thousands more are looking for resources, and we need to reach them. We’ve placed well over 300 boot brush stations on the landscape and put 12,000 hand held boot brushes in the hands of recreationists over the last few years, and I know that we could triple that number over the next two to three years.

NAISMA is not only a good organization, but is poised to be a great organization. In Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” a required reading for businesses and nonprofits alike, Collins describes how great organizations are disciplined, know what they do best, have humble leaders, and constantly evaluate and refine their work to make sure they are on the right path. I am confident that Christie, the Board of Directors, and staff will do just that.

Christie’s vision and approach to leadership is inspiring. She has everything NAISMA needs (and more!) to achieve the goals in NAISMA’s strategic plan.

The road ahead requires you. I ask for your support for Christie by doing the work that was — and still is — the foundation of this organization. Please become a member if you are not. Please reach out to your colleagues, neighboring jurisdictions, organizations, and landowners. Are they NAISMA members? Are they aware of our international standards, products, and trainings? If not, ask them to join or support in whatever way they can. We can’t do it without you.

Thank you, NAISMA members, for your energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the challenge of managing invasive species, and for your support and friendship over the years. I look forward to following your continued success for many years ahead.

All my best,

Belle Bergner

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