Indiana Sheep Association (ISA) Long Range Plan
[2023 — 2028]
This strategic plan sets out the goals and strategies for the next five years of the organization. It confirms our vision, mission, and purpose. The plan will provide a pathway for the board to follow as it makes important decisions about ISA’s future and viability in today’s changing world and marketplace.
The Indiana Sheep Association is one of the oldest livestock organizations in Indiana. It was originally founded as the Indiana Wool Growers Association in 1876 to encourage local shepherds to come together to share ideas and expertise, to promote lamb and wool in the state, and to educate our communities about the value of sheep and the sheep industry.
The Indiana Sheep Association acts as the unifying and authoritative voice of the Indiana sheep industry at the local, state, regional and national levels. ISA accomplishes its mission by supporting, educating, and promoting Indiana producers, educating consumers about the value of sheep, wool, and the sheep industry in Indiana, and cooperating with Purdue University in its extension, research and teaching programs.
Today, ISA serves the Indiana sheep industry and its members by:
- Encouraging quality production of commercial and purebred sheep through educational programs, dissemination of research, news and market information useful for Indiana producer
- Increasing industry profitability by working with local, regional and national partners as well as Purdue University to find improved methods of production, marketing and distribution of sheep products
- Expanding markets by encouraging the development of new and expanded uses for sheep products and by promoting Indiana sheep and wool
- Providing opportunities for sheep industry participants to exchange information and ideas
- Supporting young shepherds’ activities by teaching future generations about the importance of sheep to agriculture and our economy
- Educating consumers on the benefits of farm fresh lamb and wool and encouraging consumer relationships with local producers
- Representing the interests of and advocating for the welfare of Indiana sheep and wool growers locally, regionally and nationally
The strategic plan acknowledges and addresses some situational challenges that the board has faced over the previous five years and sets forth some opportunities for the organization to take advantage of.
Current ISA Budget mix is:
- After some years in the decline, in 2017 the board accepted the offer of Bob Benson a previous ISA president, ASI regional director and well-known industry advocate to serve as a volunteer executive director (ED). Under his direction and service, the organization regained some momentum and took advantage of available grant opportunities to restore financial stability.
- With Bob’s retirement fast approaching the board needs to decide if we want to continue with a volunteer ED or fund a part- or full-time paid ED. If volunteer can we find someone with the skills to do the job? If paid, do we want to cut other programs or expenses or increase revenues to cover the additional expense.
- ISA’s current Treasurer David Greenburg has provided financial and accounting services on a volunteer basis for many years and is also ready to retire. How will the services that David provides be replaced? If no acceptable volunteer is available to handle these services should those duties be contracted out with a bookkeeping service or possibly be reassigned to a new ED.
- Over the past decade the Indiana Sheep and Wool Council (ISWC) which oversees Indiana’s check-off program has created a stable source of funding to assist ISA with its programs and expenses as well as promote the consumption of lamb directly to consumers. ISA & the ISWC need to determine what kind of a relationship they should have going forward.
- ISA conducted a survey of members and other producers in 2022 to help determine what programs and areas of interest Indiana sheep producers think are important to the industry. This plan provides an opportunity to take advantage of that information.
- The onset of COVID over the past couple of years has greatly accelerated the use of virtual means of communication as individuals found themselves isolated at home for long periods of time. How does this trend affect association programs and membership communications going forward? ISA must find the right mix of electronic operations that best supports it membership in this digital age.
- COVID also disrupted the lamb and other commodity markets as well as consumer purchasing habits and lamb consumption preferences. The onset of the non-traditional market as the US population has diversified has also impacted how producers must view their marketing options.
- Purdue University which ISA has long associated and coordinated with through extension and educational programs is also facing a crossroads with its traditional small ruminant educational division. ISA must best determine what its relationship and dependence on Purdue will be going forward and how the small ruminant knowledge need for producers will be filled.
Current ISA program mix is:
- Dues and ISF Wool Room revenues fund office and administrative expenses and ASI dues > 6-8K
- Quarterly newsletter funds itself > 1-1.5K
- Grants from IS&WC, ALB and ASI fund programs > 12-15K
- Part-time Ex Dir Salary and treasurer > no funding source, currently volunteer positions
Survey identified what ISA priorities shuld be as well as strengths and weaknesses:
- Shearing School
- Make it With Wool
- Sheep to Shawl
- Taste of Indiana
- ISF Sheep Shearing Contest
- Wine & Food Festival
- Education of Producers 50%
- Marketing/Promotion 36%
- Educate Consumers 34%
- Promote Industry Growth 34%
Promotion of Industry, Advocacy, Producer Education (all were identified as priorities in survey)
Mentoring, Youth Opportunities (none were identified as priorities in survey)
Vision for the Future
ISA will have a stable financial and membership base that supports the sheep industry and promotes consumer awareness of lamb and wool products through a viable program offering that fits the post-COVID lifestyles of its members and consumers alike.
Directive to Achieve Our Vision
Provide a well-managed association with engaged board members that supports programs and market opportunities in the most efficient way.
- Membership Counts
- Grants Applied for and Received
- Programs Conducted
By the end of 2028 maintain a minimum of 125 members, a bank balance of $20,000 and execute at least 5 well supported in person programs and 2 new virtual programs or events.
Appoint a new executive director and treasurer. Contract with an accounting firm or bookkeeping service to keep ISA’s financial records if necessary. Continue quarterly newsletter and yearly programs via an involved board membership.
Innovation & Outreach:
Optimize financial resources, focus on new avenues to reach existing and prospective members, and build strong relationships with core partners ISWC, Purdue, ASI and surrounding state or related agricultural commodity associations.
Programs and Services:
Identify core programs and services that are not duplicated by other organizations or entities. Execute those programs and services through virtual and/or digital means when viable and applicable but maintain opportunities for interpersonal interaction with members and consumers when appropriate.
- Evaluate the current administrative assistant to determine that individual’s ability to assume the executive director duties.
- Determine whether the current treasurer can secure financial management services for ISA via a modest contract with a similarly suited accounting service as the one he now operates.
- Support these new individuals and entities through a one-year trial period to determine if additional management assistance is needed.
- Continue to maintain ISA’s current level of service for membership, grant solicitation, quarterly newsletters and programs over the 5-year plan.
- Jointly determine with IS&WC what role if any they should have in funding an executive director and/or treasurer or accounting service.
- Determine how much ISA could realistically raise in sponsorship revenue and who/whom should be responsible for securing sponsorship funds.
- Active membership totals, renewals and new member recruitment.
- Accurate financial statements and records.
- Timely grant submissions and awards.
- Board engagement through volunteer committee and event assignments.
- ASI interaction with ISA’s leadership team.
- Additional revenue beyond grants, program fees, receipts and commissions.
Innovation & Outreach
- Identify virtual and digital strategies that can reduce association costs and increase engagement for ISA members.
- Focus on the ISA strengths identified in the 2022 producer survey (Promotion of Industry, Advocacy, Producer Education) and emphasize those strengths in new ways to engage members.
- Connect with surrounding states and resources like Pipestone to do joint programming that can be shared virtually with ISA members.
- Establish regular communication with Purdue Animal Sciences Small Ruminant successor to Mike Neary. Consider joint communication activities such as podcasts and webinars.
- Determine how ISA can increase Indiana sheep numbers through Agrivoltaics opportunities that may present themselves in the coming decade.
- Develop strategies to reach out to Amish producers and encourage them to become members.
- New venues for member engagement.
- Outreach contacts made, developed and new ideas implemented. I.e. - example would be monthly/quarterly mtgs w/Mich & Ohio state Assns. to brainstorm new ideas and strategies.
- New technologies employed.
Programs and Services
- ISA receives about 12K/yr in grants from the Indiana Sheep and Wool Council to conduct programs. That amount represents over 1/3rd of the revenue that IS&WC takes in each year. Engage the IS&WC to determine if that is the right mix …and whether it should be more or less.
- Evaluate current programs to determine if all of them should be continued and enhance those with potential for expansion. Reduce or eliminate others that may have duplicate alternatives, declining value or increased expenses.
- Leverage ASI, ALB, AWC and other national funding sources as much as possible to fund programs. Explore Indiana State Dept of Agriculture, Indiana Farm Bureau, Purdue and other in-state commodity and ag related groups to determine additional funding sources.
- Explore funding opportunities related to industries involved in agrivoltaics.
- Utilize virtual and digital programing to add out of state programing opportunities for ISA members.
- Consider adding young entrepreneur programs focused on mentoring and other non-showring educational opportunities by targeting state 4-H and FFA events that allow ISA participation and interaction with their members.
- Overall program participation numbers. Board member participation in program execution.
- New funding sources added and continuation of existing funding sources and current or enhanced levels.
- Stability and consistency in program offerings