I attended the summer 2020 USPA Board of Directors meeting to stay informed – as a USPA member and a candidate running for the USPA National Director seat. I also attended the February 2020 meeting in Arizona and the winter board meeting in 2019 as we are a member directed organization and our input important. This article is more than just a report, but an interactive tool to garner more feedback to support the ideas and agendas that were presented.
Note – this meeting was conducted in a hybrid format. 9 of the 22 directors attended virtually. Members also had the chance to attend virtually as well. There were a lot of moving pieces to conduct the hybrid meeting which added additional tasks onto all the staff members – all whom technology is not their main duties at head quarters – and although a few tech issues, they did a great job. They all noted they have a lot of notes for next time to conduct it better!
Next, if you’d like to give your feedback on the questions in this article, please find the survey below! Next to note, I’ve attended board meetings off and on and I’m doing my due diligence reading past Minutes and consulting those who were part of changes – so I’m still learning the process, procedures and people behind the on-goings. I hope to bring this back to a membership run organization as it was created to be!
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT
Ed Scott, outgoing Executive Director and past ED for the past 24 years, gave his report stating the following:
Memberships, licenses, and rating renewals are lower than normal
Dropzone Group Memberships are almost caught up to the usual
There has been a higher volume of incident reporting
USPA is financially doing well, even considering the shutdown as they reacted to things that might happen (but didn’t). They cut off staff travel, held on any expenses that were budged and pushed to future months, cancelled contracts in an early effort to sustain the COVID setbacks.
USPA’s net worth is 5.1 million dollars
In response to the above, memberships, licenses, rating renewals and Group Memberships are lower due to the global shutdown.
I know many people resisted this for a long time, but personally, I see potential value. Ron Bell, Director of Safety and Training states that reporting helps USPA see trends that they can address proactively on behalf of the organization. For example, of the incidents reported just this year in 2020, many came in after the shut down and drop zones reopening. So USPA produced a video to help address the trends:
Many are reluctant to report for fear of repercussions, but USPA assures that they are confidential. After speaking with Ron and learning about the IT behind the reporting, I can say that it is all confidential. It also seems that other people are starting to trust the system as well, or find it easy to use since Ron has advocated for people using the system. Thus, reporting has increased. You can find previous incident reports HERE, and the reporting system may be found by clicking HERE.
USPA FINANCIAL HEALTH
It comforts me as a member knowing our organization is financially stable. However, I can’t help but think of how we could distribute those funds during times of need for Group Members, professional skydivers in forms of emergency loans or how we can support other areas of our membership. The funds are critical should we have a case come up with the federal government, to pay for its building and payroll, but my mind is turning on other possibilities to support its members.
Things to ponder:
I thought of how we could support our competition delegates and athletes, but they represent a small number of members. To be fair to all those that don’t compete, should they get funds?
If we offer emergency loans, who pays for those to underwrite those loans, comes up with terms in who is allowed to seek or apply for funds?
Here is an example from the winter USPA Board Meeting for the need for financial capital:
In full disclosure, I need to do more research on why there is so much in the bank, it’s purpose, and what are the organization’s expenses, etc. to fully understand the scope of the organizations finances. All of USPA’s financials are disclosed in the minutes of each Board Meeting that may be found HERE.
SPORT PROMOTION REPORT
Shannon Searls, the Sports Promotions Director, shared how USPA has upped its efforts successfully on social media including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Next, they are working on transitioning from ParachutistOnline.com to Parachutist.com to have a digital magazine that will include archived Parachutist magazines, additional articles on skydiving from its members around the world, as well as videos. Shannon has also been working on bring the Parachutist profiles to life in video format as well as they have intentions to bring the SIM to life.
Shannon has been doing a great job updating USPA’s marketing and sports promotions efforts and building its social capital.
HALL OF FAME REPORT
The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation governed by a Board of Trustees. Equipment and documents are being collected, inventoried, and preserved. Funds are being raised to build the museum in Central Florida. The purpose of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is to recognize and promote the sport of skydiving and the parachute industry through public education and awareness; recognize the contribution to skydiving by its participants, suppliers, and supporters; capture forever the history of the sport and the industry via its events, equipment, and personalities; and enhance aviation safety as it pertains to skydiving.
Representative Jim McCormick gave a ISMHOF update stating there has been exciting progress but was quick to note that the foremost priority is to get the museum built, understanding everyone’s concern over the delay in its progress. He then stated that the Hall of Fame event for 2020 has been rescheduled to April 22nd – 24th, 2021 at Skydive DeLand and they intend on their 2021 celebrations to go on as scheduled. They are hosting a webinar featuring Sandy Reid of Rigging Innovations to talk about his gear building evolution from the early 70’s to today. You may find details on the event HERE and it is free to attend! (Yours truly will be moderating the event on behalf of Dropzone Marketing.)
The museum recently purchased land in Orlando, Florida and they will co-locate with a wingsuit wind tunnel and in the future, a vertical wind tunnel. COVID had again created more delays in their progress but they have been productive during the shut down revising plans, preparing how to engage their audience, trustees, and ambassadors digitally, as well as preparing for their next round of fundraising efforts.
Jim also shared the Museum’s additional affiliates aside from USPA are the skydiving organizations in South Africa and Australia.
Since USPA decided to financially invest in the Museum several years ago, at this meeting, all Board members put heavy pressure on the Museum asking Jim about their disappointment in the delays and wanted more clear answers as it has been vague. Jim again shared there is a “significant sense of urgency to get the building built ASAP.”
from the USPA Board Meeting in 2018
Board of Director Luke Aikins shares a testimonial on the Museum’s website saying, “I support the Museum because just hearing stories about skydiving isn’t enough.” And I couldn’t agree more. The Museum is an opportunity to capture all the various aspects of our sport in a professional and meaningful way. It stands to be a living testimonial of our progression, our family’s legacies, and inspiring the future. Yet, I am as frustrated with the project as everyone else.
I have nominated my dad, Roger Nelson 9 out of the 10 years since the Museum’s inception to be inducted, only to be met with that your dad has too colorful of a past to be considered. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER POST TO ELABORATE ON MY MISSION TO NOMINATE HIM.
Edited: I’ve recently been made aware of the FAQ page on the Museum’s Hall of Fame page outlining many questions many members have about the Museum. You may find it HERE.
As members of USPA, a part of our membership dues goes towards supporting the Museum. I want to know – how do you feel about that? Do you support the Museum? How about the idea of the Museum?
OTHER AGENDA ITEMS
4-Way Rookie Class in Competition?
It was brought up in the Competition Committee by Regional Director Josh Hall (also long time avid competitor) – inspired by Skydive Chicago’s 2.o Nationals – if USPA Nationals should include a 4-way Rookie category. There is discussion whether it would take place of another category or if it would be an addition.
My question to you: newbies, future competitors and current 4-way competitors – what are your thoughts adding in a Rookie Category similar to the National Skydiving League?
Regional Director Paul Golhson stated that his region shared that with the changes of the D-license, that they wanted a license that would prove significant accomplishments in the sport. He shared that it would not cost anything to add, it would be optional, and wouldn’t cost anything to the membership to do so. Other members wanted to ensure that an E-license wouldn’t interfere with ratings or any legal statements that use the D-license as it’s highest license. Some of the E-license requirements would be:
Intentional water landing
Large formation experience of 20+
… and other significant accomplishments. My question to you: Do you see value in an E-license? Why or why not?
USPA Competition Judges Pay
Since 2003, competition judges make a minimum of $100/day plus their travel and accommodations to judge at the USPA Nationals. Hosts have had the option to pay more, but often do not. Judges are the heart beat of competition working nearly 10-14 hour days. The discussion was to increase their pay to $150/day and add on a very minimal pay for their travel days of $50/travel day. Before 2002, they had no set pay and since 2003, their pay has not increased. Also to note, judges are also in short supply. Discussion was yes, it needs to be increased, but by how much.
National Director, Larry Hill said that such a pay raise would raise registration for the smaller competition events such as wingsuit, VFS, AE, CRW, etc. But for FS, it wouldn’t raise as much. Due to such a drastic increase for registration, the Competition Committee agreed to only add on $100 diem for a judge’s travel, but no pay increase.
My question: would you be a judge for that price? What would entice you to become a judge? Is this a fair increase? Are there other ways host drop zones could help support a judges pay increase?
If you are interested in knowing the steps in becoming a judge, click HERE.
There were more topics addressed at this meeting, and in the previous winter meeting that I will expand on in a future post.
I would appreciate your feedback on the questions related to the topics above. Surveys are anonymous – so I ask that only USPA members respond so this may be an accurate representation that I may use at a future board meeting as a concerned and informed member or as a future national director.