My Vision for FOLFAN

By Jim Cassio, President

FOLFAN turned ten years old last year. Linda McDonald, our co-founder and president, saw the ten-year anniversary as the year that she would finish as president, and then step back and let someone else take the reins. She wasn't walking away from FOLFAN after ten years; she was just taking a reduced role.

So I became the new FOLFAN president in October 2019. I was not one of the founders of FOLFAN; I came along when FOLFAN was already a few years old. I recall my wife reading an article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper about a new nonprofit organization with a funny name, functioning as the "cooperating association" for the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. As a former park ranger (many years ago) and a Folsom resident, I knew that could be a good fit for my volunteer interests. 

Linda and the other board members were very welcoming to me, and my role with FOLFAN quickly began to evolve. For most of my time with FOLFAN, I have taken a leadership role with our trails, recreation activities, and communications, including our brochures, flyers and website.

So what is a cooperating association?

Often known as interpretive associations or natural history associations, they are nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting the interpretive, educational and scientific programs and services of national parks and many state parks. Beyond that general description, however, each one is different. Some focus on building volunteer capacity. Some focus on fundraising. Some focus on interpretation and education. Some manage gift shops, museums or concessions. A few even manage their own parks. 

FOLFAN's mission is "enhancing education and recreation opportunities for the public and protecting the wonders and resources of Lakes Folsom and Natoma." Although our mission doesn't include the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area by name, our mission is all about supporting our local state park.

So what's my vision for FOLFAN?

Let me start with my interpretation of our mission:

“Enhancing education and recreation opportunities for the public” means we focus on developing, providing and promoting interpretive / educational and recreational activities for the public. To do this also requires a focus on basic park infrastructure, such as roads, trails and park amenities, and on basic public safety issues.

“Protecting the wonders and resources of Lakes Folsom and Natoma” means we focus on activities that protect and preserve our state park’s natural and cultural resources. This includes activities such as park clean-ups, environmental restoration (including invasive plant removal, tree planting, stream cleaning, etc), basic park infrastructure, and environmental interpretation / education.

To serve our mission, here are four of my top priorities:

  • Expand our Volunteer Capacity
  • Expand our Membership and our Major Donors
  • Expand our Grant Funding Opportunities
  • Expand our Interpretation and Educational Capacity

I believe these objectives will put us in the best position to support our park and our mission.

Wanna get involved? Or get more involved? You have a few choices:

  1. If you know one of our board members, talk to them about FOLFAN and how you can get more involved.
  2. If you want to meet up with me for coffee or tea, or for a walk on one of our trails, please reach out and let me know. 
  3. Keep an eye out for "Volunteer Opportunities" in our monthly e-newsletter.
  4. Take 4 minutes and sign up with our online Volunteer Registry (if you haven't already done so).

Here is how our Volunteer Registry will normally work: 

  1. FOLFAN has a project, task or event and we need one or more volunteers. 
  2. We look at our Registry and find the individuals who look to be the best match. 
  3. We contact them (by email and/or phone) to let them know about the volunteer opportunity. (Some volunteer opportunities will be announced in our monthly newsletter.)
  4. If a volunteer is interested and available, we try to select a meet-up date and time that works for the volunteer(s) and the person coordinating the volunteer activity. Depending on the activity, in some cases we will organize an orientation or training session for multiple volunteers.
  5. We ask our volunteers to sign a liability waiver.