The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, Inc., is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

Board Meetings

The RIWPS Board of Trustees meets on the 2nd Thursday every other month (Mar-May-Jul-Sept-Nov-Jan).

Members are welcome to attend. Contact office@riwps.org for specific time and location of the meeting.

Our History

The Beginning

Excerpts from the History of RIWPS, 1987-1997 by Mary E. Finger

Sometime in the early spring of 1986 a congenial group gathered in the cook house at the Audubon Eppley Refuge for a workshop in wild-plant gardening offered by Lisa Gould and Doris Anthony. Those present that day were Marnie Lacouture, Nancy Magendantz, Martha Marshall, Betty Salomon, and Johnny Stone. In the course of the day’s conversation Lisa described the wildflower garden club to which her mother belonged in North Carolina. Her mother’s group, she explained, had three primary areas of interest: growing wild plants, working toward their conservation, and going on walks and trips to see natives in their native habitats. The Eppley group began to talk about starting a wild plant organization in Rhode Island. Several ideas emerged.

They did not want another garden club, a Rhode Island wild plant group should have a strong conservation component. It should have a broad enough base to interest many people, ranging from highly qualified professionals to those who simply liked to walk in the woods and fields and it should be fun for its members. Although Irene Stuckey and Millie House were not at the workshop, they encouraged and supported the forming group. The New England Wild flower Society also responded with interest, and a native plant sale sponsored by Betty Salomon’s generated even more enthusiasm. The seed had been planted and the ground was fertile,” Lisa Gould said, “people were ready for it.”

History-1987-1997

  • MARCH 1987 TO MARCH 1990
    Presidents: Lisa Gould 1987-1989, Gilbert George 1989-1990
  • MARCH 1990 TO MARCH 1993
    Presidents: Martha Marshall, 1990-1991, Kathleen Barton, 1991-1993
  • MARCH 1993 TO MARCH 1997
    Presidents: Joan Pilson, 1993-1995, Joan Pilson & Richard Hull, 1995-1996, Richard Hull & Sindy Hempstead, 1996-1997
Annual Grant

Grant Monies Available

RIWPS Annual GrantThe Rhode Island Wild Plant Society offers an annual grant to aid individuals in the study of wild plants and their habitats. To qualify you must be an educator, a member of a Rhode Island botanical or environmental association or a student in a field related to botany or environmental studies.

The grant is for up to $1000 and includes a one year membership to RIWPS. The project goal must involve environmental activities or research in any area of study related to wild plants and/or their habitats. These activities may involve such things as installation of gardens, invasive removal, or support for extracurricular activities. It can also be used for project materials, workshops or courses. The award is open to Rhode Island residents or non-residents at a Rhode Island educational institution.

Application Instructions

Applications must be received by February 28, 2017.

Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Strategic Plan 2017-2020

This strategic plan was developed in collaboration with all board members and key committee members Rhode Island Wild Plant Society (RIWPS) with facilitation and research provided by The Capacity Group. Group conversations among Board and committee members that led to the development of this plan were informed by research conducted by The Capacity Group into local needs and opportunities, individual interviews with key stakeholders all board members, and an assessment of trends in funding and in the services provided by RIWPS, including the strengths and challenges of current programs.

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society has many strengths to build on including: a strong revenue base from the Plant Sale; a highly committed and educated group of volunteers engaged and a reputation among experts in the field for excellent educational programming. Challenges are primarily related to clarifying the goals and focus of the organization, the need to develop stronger board oversight and board and committee connections and how to increase the impact of the organization relative to the mission using the volunteer-driven model.

Mission

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats

Desired Three-Year Outcomes

  • Transition to 100% native RI plants grown through seed starters and sold at the plant sale within 5 years
  • Build on the excellent educational offerings of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society 
  • Assess growth opportunities for Seed Starters and the Plant Sale
  • Establish a communications committee to improve organization communications
  • Focus conservation activities on education and sharing information that impacts conservation with key agencies and with the interested public
  • Build board oversight and connection with committee work

 

Goal 1: Transition to 100% native RI plants grown through seed starters and sold at the plant sale within 5 years

Strategies:

  • Focus the definition of native to Rhode Island natives. Board members and volunteers will cross check Vascular Flora and Go Botany to identify Rhode Island native plants. The Board recognizes that plants which are considered native can change over time, and  the Board agrees that Vascular Flora and Go Botany are likely to be the most helpful guides.
  • Seed Starters and Plant Sale Committee leads and members will discuss the best ways to reach this goal. Committees will bring concrete proposals back to the Board
  • It is understood by the Board that this will take time to achieve. The proposals from committees should include feasible benchmarks and timelines including 6 month, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and, if needed, 5-year goals and will include a yearly review of the income from the plant sale to ensure it continues as a viable source of funding.
  • Assess partnerships that could support this work

Goal 2: Build on the excellent educational offerings of RIWPS

Strategies:

  • Assess opportunities to develop educational programming around seed harvesting/cleaning/planting
  • Continue the excellent programming offered by Walks and Workshops and continually assess the audiences.
  • Continue the symposium and other general meetings as appropriate to further organization goals. The Board will be in charge of planning these events.
  • Assess partnerships that could support this work

Goal 3: Assess growth opportunities for Seed Starters and the Plant Sale

Strategies:

  • Consider expanding Seed Starters to other geographic areas
  • Move toward more closely connecting the education and outreach activities to the Plant Sale program
  • Seed Starters will identify desired formal educational opportunities and confer with Walks and Workshops to see if any of these opportunities are a better fit for internal educational resources or external educational resources
  • Assess partnerships that could support this work

Goal 4: Establish a communications committee to improve organization communications

Strategies:

  • Recruit individuals to serve on the communications committee
  • Create a clear communications plan
  • Assess effectiveness of communications
  • Further improve the web site to support novice through experts seeking information on planting native RI plants. Ensure the marketing captures their attention and provides needed information to support propagation of RI native plants.
  • Support marketing and communications for ongoing and one-time events
  • Assess partnerships that could support this work

Goal 5: RIWPS will focus conservation activities on education and sharing information that impacts conservation with key agencies and with the interested public  

Strategies:

  • Work with Communications Committee to achieve this objective
  • Identify partnerships that could help to achieve this objective
  • Develop a plan for responding to outside inquiries related to conservation and planting

Goal 6: Board and Organization Development

Strategies:

  • The Board will reserve some portion of each meeting to review progress on strategic plan goals.
  • Review committee membership and develop a plan for increased volunteer engagement and membership.
  • Identify a cloud-based solution to store and archive important information related to the organization (including materials and communications developed, event information, a walks and workshops database) to ensure this information can be easily accessed and important historical information is not lost.
  • Budgeting
    • The Executive Committee of the Board will submit an organization budget to the full Board for approval by vote prior to the beginning of each new fiscal year.
    • The Treasurer will be tasked with connecting with each of the Committee leads to develop an appropriate budget and developing and integrating them into overall organization budget.
  • Financial Review
    • The Executive Committee of the Board will at a minimum submit a comparison of budget-to-actuals to the full Board for review at the end of each fiscal year.
    • The Treasurer will be tasked with connecting with each of the Committee leads to ensure the tallying of final budgets. The Treasurer will also be tasked with submitting the full year end budget-to-actuals report to Board members at least one week in advance of the Board meeting where they will be discussed.
  • Improving committee and board connections to ensure committees can be nimble and autonomous and also to ensure the committees are responsive to the Board strategic plan goals and the Board is responsive to committee needs.
    • Committee chairs will submit written updates one week prior to each board meeting to the Board via the Board President.
    • The Executive Committee of the Board will develop a simple format for these updates to ensure they are uniform and easy for Committee Chairs to complete and for Board members to read and review. The goal of these reports is to provide the Board with Committee updates on progress toward strategic plan goals, significant changes in the work, challenges the Board may be able to help address, good news, and budgeting updates and requests as needed.
    • Reports will be compiled by the Board President and sent to Board members in advance of the Board meetings. Board agenda time will be made available for Board members to ask questions regarding the reports or to discuss important items related to the reports.
    • Committee Chairs may be asked to attend a Board meeting to support further discussion if needed.

Recognitions

Annual Volunteer Award

The RI Wild Plant Society gives out awards to honor the good work of our volunteers. We value their contributions.

Volunteer of the Year Award
This award is given to a Rhode Island Wild Plant Society member who has unfailingly dedicated their efforts toward the betterment of the Society as a whole.

2005 – Garry Plunkett
2006 – Kim Bothelo & Barney Webster
2007 – Mary Lou Upham
2008 – Patricia Cahalan & Cynthia Gianfrancesco
2009 – Bob & Shirley Anderson
2010 – Christine Kalina
2011 – Marcia Pena
2012 – Graham Laird Gardner
2013 – Roy Jeffrey and Susan Marcus
2014 – Paula Morrissey
2015 – Kevin Alverson
2016 – Helen Drew

Lifetime Service Award

This award is given to a Rhode Island Wild Plant Society member who has unfailingly dedicated their efforts toward the betterment of the Society as a whole for a minimum of 10 years.

2005 – Betty Salomon, Betsy Keiffer & Dorothy Swift
2006 – Jerry Melaragno
2007 – Lisa Gould, Rick Enser & Jules Cohen
2008 – Dick Donnelly & Judith Ireland
2009 –
2010 – Mabel (Sindy) Hempstead
2011 – Joan Pilson
2012 – Karen Asher
2013 – Sandra Thompson
2014 – Frances Topping
2015 – Bob and Shirley Anderson
2016 – Doug McGrady

Awards to RIWPS

Appreciation to our design, forcing, construction and planting teams, our exhibit docents, and other volunteers who created delightful educational Native Plant Exhibits at the annual Rhode Island Flower Show. This tradition continued for 22 years, ending in 2016, the last year of the Rhode Island Flower Show.  See our archives.

2016 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 1st Place

The Roger and Elizabeth Swain Award for Design and Execution

2015 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 2nd Place
People’s Choice: 2nd Place
Exhibitor’s Choice: 3rd Place

2014 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 1st Place

2013 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 1st Place

2012 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 4th Place
Elizabeth & Roger Swain Award
for Excellence

2011 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 1st Place
Best in Show – Non Profit: 3rd Place

2010 RI Flower Show
Mass. Horticultural Society: Silver Medal
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 3rd Place

2009 RI Flower Show
Mass. Horticultural Society: Gold Medal
Worcester County Horticultural Society: Special Award
Best in Show – Non Profit: 2nd Place
People’s Choice: 3rd Place

2008 RI Flower Show
Best in Show: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 3rd Place

2007 RI Flower Show
Best in Show – Non Profit: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 3rd Place

2006 RI Flower Show
Allen C. Haskell Award: 1st Place
People’s Choice: 3rd Place

2005 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 2nd Place

2004 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 1st Place

2001 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 1st Place

1999 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 1st Place

1996 RI Flower Show
People’s Choice: 1st Place

1995 NE Wildflower Society
Citation: Society Recognition

1994 RI Flower Show
Exhibitor’s Award: 1st Place

Newport Flower Show
Community Education: Appreciation Award

1991 State Garden Club
Education Exhibit: Special Exhibit

Board Members

Officers

President

Dick Fisher

Vice President

Mary Lou Upham

Treasurer

Brian Maynard

Secretary

Mary O’Connor

Trustees-at-Large

Samantha Best
Amanda Freitas
Jonathan Knight
Susan Marcus
Susan Shuster
Dorothy Swift
Anne Raver
John Wilson