IA announces Irrigation Foundation restructuring

Shuffle gives Irrigation Association more ‘continuous funding,’ streamlines governance structure, says CEO Hamlin
Irrigation Association is folding its charitable foundation's workforce development programs under the IA brand. (Photo: Andrii Yalanskyi, Dreamstime)

The Irrigation Association announced on Monday that it is restructuring its Irrigation Foundation to bring the foundation’s initiatives under the IA brand.

[Related: Irrigation Association announces collaborative research project]

Deborah Hamlin, CEO of the Irrigation Association, said in a statement that “bringing these initiatives within the IA ensures that continuous funding will be provided through membership dues and not be solely reliant on direct donations.”

Hamlin told Colorado Patio & Landscape on Tuesday that “everybody rallies when there’s a crisis, but when there’s not a crisis, we don’t tend to always get that support we need.”

The Irrigation Foundation was the workforce development arm of the Irrigation Association. The foundation’s 501(c)3 charitable status will be retained for “those organizations or individuals who must donate to a 501(c)3 charitable organization,” according to a statement announcing the change.

Previously, the Irrigation Association and the Irrigation Foundation were overseen by separate boards.

“What we’re really getting rid of is this structure that was just an added level of governance,” Hamlin said, which required “a separate structure that needed separate financial statements and separate board meetings.”

“It wasn’t a hurdle per se, it was just an added step in the process,” Hamlin said.

She hopes that with more consistent funding through IA’s membership dues, as opposed to donations through the foundation, IA will be able to expand on its advocacy and initiatives, especially the Faculty Academy.

[Related: Smart irrigation market to be a billion-dollar industry

IA’s flagship program, the Faculty Academy was launched in 2003 to provide irrigation instructors with up-to-date information about irrigation technology and techniques. In 2015, IA separated the academy into industry-specific tracks to cover irrigation in landscaping and agriculture. Since then, the academy has more than doubled annual average attendance.

Hamlin noted that with landscape contractors around the country so pressed for labor, it feels like “crisis mode” for many companies.

“The good news is that usually you have these labor shortages when you have a good economy,” Hamlin said, “but then we have to be creative about how we can get the work done.”

[Related: Industry associations join forces on labor shortage]

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