Addressing issues of workers from multi-generations working side by side and bolstering skills for volunteer staff and board members of Wyoming nonprofits are major thrusts of this year’s Snowy Range Nonprofit Institute (SRNI).
“Rural Nonprofit Leadership: Connecting the Generations” is the theme of the annual institute, scheduled for Aug. 3-5 at the University of Wyoming Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Laramie.
“We provide a high-quality, stimulating and intellectual environment for learning so participants can take what they learned back and apply in their own communities,” said Debra Beck, SRNI coordinator and co-founder.
For more information about the institute, see www.srni.org.
In 2006, SRNI partnered with the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service’s Community Development Education initiative team. The first institute emphasized fund-raising issues, and subsequent institutes broadened SRNI’s scope.
Two tracks in 2008 will offer training for staff leadership and for volunteer leadership. “In the past, we have had a number of folks who are executive directors who tend to have different issues than volunteer board members,” said Mary Martin, an extension educator in Teton County specializing in community education development. “Boards are trying to learn how to set policy and shape the future for an organization; staff is trying to deal with the day-to-day operations more effectively.”
Having resources that can help nonprofits improve is critical, said Martin, who is in her third year assisting SRNI. Nonprofits have helped build infrastructures in communities, such as nursing homes and low-income housing. Whether providing social capital, such as those working with health and social issues, or human capital, by providing training for addressing issues, “nonprofits play a huge part in the quality of life in our communities,” said Martin.
Milt Green, a member of the CDE team and on his fourth SRNI, is adamant about the role of nonprofits in the state. “I see the nonprofit sector as the real backbone of entrepreneurship in Wyoming,” said Green, an extension educator in Natrona County and who also specializes in community education development.
“There are a huge number of entrepreneurship ideas that evolve out of nonprofits,” he said. “Nonprofits are woven in and out of the capacity of communities. The nonprofit sector identifies the grassroots needs of people out there.”
Recruiting multi-generational workers will be a first-day session by Tracy Skopek, director of the UW Master of Public Administration Program and an assistant professor in the UW political science department.
“I’m not aware of any time in history we have had four generations represented in the workforce – the matures, the baby boomers, Generation X and the millennials,” said Green. “They are four totally different generations, and it is creating some management issues for nonprofit managers. The biggest difference I see is the conflict between boomers and Generation X. Generation X’ers want it now and are not willing to yield. To mix all those in a nonprofit setting is a huge challenge for the nonprofit managers.”