Wow!

Photo of members of NANPA's board, St. Louis, 2019.
August 17, 2019. St. Louis, Hampton Inn. NANPA board meeting.

By Tom Haxby, NANPA President

Wow! It was quite the shock to me a little over a year ago when I was approached about being nominated to be the next president of NANPA. Skip forward almost one year after being elected as president and the time has just flown by. The best part about it has been the opportunity to become more involved with NANPA and getting to know many of the people who make NANPA a special community of and for nature photography. So, before I pass the gavel to our incoming president, Dawn Wilson, I want to thank all who have helped NANPA in the last year and continue to do so.  This may feel like a going away note, but really I will be on the board for another year, and who knows after that.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of our nearly 2,500 members. I have so much enjoyed the beautiful Showcase winning photos in the annual Expressions journal as I have enjoyed seeing members photos on our Facebook page as well as our Instagram feed. It is not just the pretty photos though. It is the adventure stories I hear of how the photo was captured or the conservation stories illustrated by the photos or the background about how ethics was always an important consideration. I had a great time connecting with members at the Upper Peninsula Regional Event last fall and am looking forward to connecting with even more members at future events—think Summit 2021 in Tucson or perhaps a Smokies Regional Event next spring. Keep on using your photography to share your love of nature.

NANPA would not exist without the many volunteers who donate their time. A page on our website features a long-long list of our volunteers. From planning the Summits, to managing our social media platforms, to the conservation committee, to advocacy, to the high school program and more, I cannot thank everyone enough for all that you do. We are always looking for people to become involved; perhaps you can contribute your passion or skill to one of our committees.

I want to thank all who shared time with me while helping to teach last year during the NANPA High School Scholarship Program in the Smokies. It is a huge responsibility, but a fun time was had by all. JP Lawrence, Karen Schuenemann, Alena Ebeling-Schuld and others spent a week there, guided the students as we climbed mountains, waded in streams, ogled salamanders and shot the stars—all with cameras in hand.

Many of you have had the chance to interact with the tremendous contractors who assist us in operating NANPA.  Teresa Ransdell, in addition to her membership services, applies her many skills to the webinar program, the Showcase Competition, and the NANPA Foundation.  Julie Patterson provides marketing and communications services. Bethany Brucker provides bookkeeping services.  Gina Head provides assistance to us with our regional events, the Summits and the Celebrations.  Richard Day provides customer service and helps with member questions and programs.  I have been in awe of what we have been able to accomplish with the assistance of this small group of contractors. 

John Nuhn serves as our historian and President of the NANPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3). Through contributions to the Foundation and its support, the high school and college programs have supported the next generation of nature photographers for many years. 

The NANPA Board of Directors spends many, many hours in meetings, sends mountains of e-mails and makes numerous phone calls to coordinate the way forward for NANPA. Congratulations to the newest members of the board. In the election just completed, we added three new members and approved one returning member, Lisa Langell. Our newest members, Kika Tuff, Trent Richardson and Beth Huning, will be in for quite an experience. Outgoing board members Don Carter, Andrew Snyder and Gordon Illg will be missed for their knowledge and enthusiasm. It has been great working with and getting to know all of you, but I know that each of you will still be contributing as committee members or in some capacity, and that we will keep in touch. Our long-time board member, past-president and current treasurer Bruce Haley has contributed so much in his many, many years of service. Bruce has decided to step down, and we are looking for a replacement. So, if you could serve as treasurer, NANPA needs you. Jon Holloway, Alice Robertson, Chuckie Luzier and Eric Bowles are our other outstanding board members and I appreciate their support. Consultants Jane Halperin and Sean Fitzgerald attend our Board meetings and provide vital advice to the Board when asked.

I saved the final thank you to our Executive Director, Susan Day, for last. Susan is passionate about NANPA and keeps everything going. She has been very helpful to me and has shown a great deal of patience. It has been quite the adventure, and we have still had our moments of laughter. I still am in amazement at all that we have been through in the last year.  No matter what, Susan has shown her continued dedication to NANPA and her strength has helped me throughout.

I hope I have not missed anyone, but just know that I have been ever so grateful to all involved with NANPA for the chance to contribute to the organization’s continued success.

NANPA has had our challenges during the year, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. But we always have our love of nature and photography to fall back on. It still feels like a wow moment to think of what the last year as president has been like. What a wonderful life.