Northwest Lichenologists

History of NW Lichenologists and NW Lichen Guild

In about 1989 Bruce McCune and Roger Rosentreter decided to form the NW Lichen Guild (the "Guild") in conjunction with the meeting of the Northwest Scientific Association (NWSA) in Corvallis. The name was suggested by Trevor Goward. The key "organizing" principles were (1) that the organization had no officers, board, or other legal structure, (2) no dues, (3) no newsletter, (4) but did have a mailing list and an annual meeting.

This arrangement worked fine. We met with the NWSA every spring since then. The lichen sessions are often the biggest draw at the NWSA meetings. Each year we have also had a workshop and a field trip (only about 1 in 3 involving snow). We have let our principles down somewhat by having an occasional newsletter, but otherwise the original principles have worked well. The main reason for this is that there are a few people who have done most of the planning each year to make the meeting happen.

In 1998, however, we wanted to do something that didn't fit within the structure of the Guild. The Oregon State University lichen research group started working on a certification program. To be recognized as a legitimate certification program, we needed sponsorship by an incorporated entity. So in 2000 a group of lichenologists from Oregon and Washington started the Northwest Lichenologists, Inc. (NWL). We had a successful start, and in the first year certified 11 people in field lichenology, particularly macrolichens in the Pacific Northwest. We intend to continue our roles in training and communication. In Fall, 2000 we received tax-exempt status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation.

At present, similar to the former NW Lichen Guild, NWL is not a members organization -- no dues, no members. The main reason for this is that the organizers felt it was an unnecessary piece of bureaucracy. None of us wanted the hassle of collecting annual dues and keeping membership lists.

In January, 2001, the email list of the Lichen Guild was polled as to whether or not we should fuse these two organizations. The proposal to merge them was overwhelmingly accepted.

They were fused for the following reasons:
1. They had broadly overlapping goals.
2. One web site to maintain is more efficient than two.
3. Eliminate confusion about the difference between the two organizations.
4. Increase the likelihood of the spring meeting continuing, by having people formally responsible for that.
5. Become one stronger organization by combining the two.

The main functions of the Guild (the mailing list and the annual meeting) continued, but under a new name. As with the Guild, NWL invites your participation as an organizer. Our annual board meeting is on the second Saturday in January in Corvallis. You are welcome to come and participate.

What is the geographic scope of the "Northwest"? We interpret this broadly to include coastal states and provinces, from northern California to Alaska, and inland to Montana and the Canadian Rockies.

Since NWL is not a formal membership organization, how can you be involved in NWL?

  • Participate in the annual board meeting in January.
  • Become a board member, alternate board member, or officer. (or just express your interest and views to a current board member.)
  • Participate in the annual general meeting in spring.
  • Offer trainings or workshops under the sponsorship of NWL. This lends legitimacy and publicity to your training; NWL need not be involved in the financial part of this.
  • Invite NWL to offer a training for your school, agency, or other group. If you can arrange a place, purpose, and trainees, we will try to provide a trainer.
  • Become certified in field lichenology in the Pacific NW.
  • Keep your addresses up-to-date on the mailing list.
  • Suggest projects for NWL (e.g. publishing, distribution of educational materials, etc.).
  • Make contributions to the newsletter.
  • Edit the newsletter.
  • Enjoy and participate.
The NWL Board meetings are not private -- you and your views are welcome. Anyone who feels excluded please volunteer for the Board.

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