February 2017 Fee Adjustment

In April of 2016 in response to budgetary concerns, the PLTA Board of Directors instituted an Event Participation fee that took effect on January 1, 2017. This action brought back a fee that had been in place for many years but had been dropped in order to encourage participation in the organization. Five dollars was to be charged for a llama to participate in each Pack Trial or Challenge.

Recently, feedback from event hosts indicated that some found administering the fee burdensome and were unwilling to undertake the added responisbility. In response, the Board has rescinded the fee, however, since the PLTA was not able to raise enough revenue last year to cover expenses, the Board agreed to increase other fees. Since llama registration fees have not changed since the 1990s, those were targeted along with Associate fees and Sanctioning for unlimited events. The changes are as follows:

 

Fee Item
 Past Fee    Changed To   Effective Date
Llama Registration $10  $15 1/1/18
Associate $5  $10 2/21/17
Sanctioning Unlimited Events   $75  $100 2/21/17

 

While the Board does not expect these changes to generate the revenue the participation fee would have, nor does the Board expect the new fees to fully address the organization's budgetary needs, it will help, and it will not put any further administrative burden on the event hosts.

To also reduce the work of event hosts, the Board encourages all participants to pay their fees in advance of any event they plan to attend and arrive at the event with their member, associate, and llama registration numbers in hand.

Fines for Late Sanctioning and Late Return of Event Results

Purpose of Directive: Requesting sanctioning less than a month before an event places undue hardship on the PLTA Board members. These dedicated individuals are volunteers who do not keep regular hours and may be unavailable for several days at a time. Likewise withholding results of an event makes it difficult for the Board collate and report information. Prior to an event the Board must inform our insurance carrier as well as publicize. Following an event the Board must be able to respond in a timely manner to participants seeking results. Because this has become an issue, the Board of Directors has established late fees to encourage event planners to honor the need for an appropriate planning and response period.

If you have any questions regarding this new direction, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the Board members. Hopefully, you understand the pressure late paperwork puts Board members under.

 

Directive:

As of January 1, 2017, in an attempt to efficiently and properly (insurance and media outlets informed) sanction all PLTA events, paperwork for such events must be in the hands of the PLTA Secretary four (4) weeks prior to any such event. A fine of $25.00 will be assessed from the four (4) weeks prior period to the two (2) week prior date of the event. After the two (2) week marker prior to the event, no event will be sanctioned unless circumstances of undue hardship are approved by a two-thirds majority of the PLTA Board of Directors. After the one (1) week marker prior to the event, no event will be sanctioned. Payment will be made directly to the PLTA Treasurer and money will go directly into the PLTA account. This money must be separate from the fees obtained at the event.

Regarding completed paperwork following an event: paperwork and images must be sent in to the PLTA secretary within a timely manner. Timely manner will be understood as less than six (6) weeks. It is unfair to participants who may be looking forward to their certificates for event hosts to shun this responsibility. If no certificates are to be awarded, paperwork for the event must still be returned within the six (6) week time period. If the paperwork is not returned within the six (6) week period an email notification will be posted to all persons whose llamas participated in the event to the effect that the paperwork has not been received by the PLTA office and they are at risk of losing credit for their llamas’ accomplishments.

The PLTA Board can only ask for event hosts to professionally and responsibly return this paperwork. If a person responsible to report such paperwork becomes a chronic 'no-show', it may be in the best interests of PLTA membership that this person is not allowed to hold future PLTA events.

Over the past few months, the focus of the Pack Llama Trail Association board of directors has been on rebuilding the association’s foundations and getting programs fully functional. Last quarter we reported the change of the association’s name from ‘Trial’ to ‘Trail’, and adjustments to the mission statement to reflect the broad scope of supporting all working llamas. This quarter the PLTA board is pleased to welcome two new members to its ranks, Hank Balch and Richard Galloway.

Hank Balch resides in North Carolina. He became interested in llamas during his missions to South America with the Air Force reserves. Shortly before retirement his wife asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said “llamas”. He got his first pair over twenty years ago and has enjoyed them ever since. Hank enjoys both packing and showing llamas. He has been a member of the Southern States Llama Association (SSLA) for twenty-two years. After retirement he decided to become more active in the llama community and has served on the SSLA board of directors as both vice president and treasurer.

Richard comes to us from northeast Oregon, where he spent most of his life either working or playing in the outdoors. He became interested in llamas as a way to hike into the Eagle Cap Wilderness without backpacks, and to be able to carry more camera gear. Richard has a master’s degree in anthropology and considers myself a ‘historic’ archaeologist. He currently owns and operates Llama Hardware. Richard is an avid supporter of the working llama. Regarding his vision for the association, he comments:

 “I see the PLTA as a way to get more people, and hopefully younger people interested in using their llamas to hike and see the great outdoors that we have available in the US. My "vision for PLTA future" would be a group that not only offers the pack trials as a way to prove their llamas have learned the skills needed for packing, but also, a place to learn those skills. Add in the mileage program and other programs that are in the works and even those that are unable to attend a pack trail can feel like they are a member of the group and are gaining something by being a member of the PLTA.”

Regarding those PLTA programs, field testing continues for GeoLlama and PLTA Challenge. Association members have been having a lot of fun refining the procedures and regulations for GeoLlama in particular. Final protocols for both these programs are expected to be put in place within the next few months. Preliminary details about how the programs work and how you can participate may be found on the programs page of this website under pack trials.

The Mileage Program is in full swing. 2014 showed forty-four llamas reporting a total of 4954. The top reporting llama, BLT Gypsum, owned by Lynn Alexander and Larry Levine logged 511 miles, while his hiking buddy, BLT Wahoo’s Mage, also owned by the Lynn Alexander and Larry Levine, reported only three miles less.  Two llamas reported over 400 miles. Two more reported over 300 miles and, in all, fifteen llamas reported hiking more than 100 miles.

Congratulations to all of the Mileage Program hard-hiking llamas and their sturdy human companions. Their year-end tallies are shown in the Accolades article on the llama's page of this website. Remember, program miles accumulate over the course of all years a llama participates in the program. Don’t hesitate to get your hiking buddy started now.

While one of the purposes of the Mileage Program is to show that a particular llama is working, an equally important part is to demonstrate pack llama capabilities in general. Critics of the Mileage Program have made statements like, ‘well that’s nothing, my llama can do better than that’ to which participating members respond, ‘great, now you have a way to prove it.’ We invite all owners of avid llama hikers to join the program and let their llamas show their stuff. Details about how it works can be found on the mileage program page of this website. 

Please also remember that changes have been made to the Pack Trial procedures and regulations to allow broader participation. Llamas are now given credit for completing trials above and beyond those necessary to earn certifications. The board has also approved a change in regulations that allows for the substitution of longer distances for a lack of available elevation gain. This means that being surrounded by flat terrain is no obstacle to holding a pack trial. The llamas are simply required to hike further to meet the trial standards.

As we start the spring season, two Pack Trials have already been scheduled.

Support and information for setting up your own pack trial is available on the PLTA web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Happy hiking,
Lisa Wolf
PLTA President

Annual Report

of the

Pack Llama TrAil Association

January 14, 2016

 

In June of 2014 the previous president of the PLTA concluded that it was time to end the Pack Llama Trial Association. She had been president for seven years and during that time carried much of the burden of keeping the organization running. She felt that given the apparent lack of members’ interest and declining membership, the best course of action was to draw the existence of the Pack Llama Trial Association to a close, archive the database and disperse the funds. Without consulting the membership, she put her decision to the Board of Directors.

Counting the president and myself, there were six members of the board at the time. Three objected. The vote to disband was tied. Since I was the person most adamantly objecting, the president told me that if I could find enough people to fill the requisite five positions on the Board of Directors by the end of the month, she would allow the organization to continue.

In a mad scramble, I found three people who were willing to dedicate a significant amount of their time to making the organization work. We brainstormed long and hard about what was ailing the Association and what we could do to revitalize it. We decided on a course of action to broaden the scope of the PLTA by providing support to activities beyond pack trials. Most especially, we wanted to focus on providing educational materials and activities that would help people build the best possible relationship with their working llamas, as well as inform non-llama people about the abilities these llamas posses. It seemed very straightforward. It wasn’t.

Because the annual reports to the IRS had not been filled out, the PLTA had lost its non-profit status years earlier. There were no clear financial records. There was no budget. The website was a mess and, due to lack of payment of the hosting company, had been closed down leaving no access to files and no backup. The database design was ineffective. Data entry and maintenance had been a long standing nightmare. Bylaws were in need of revision. Access to financial accounts was unavailable. There were no administrative policies in place to ensure the smooth running of the Association.

With the help of two more new members the Board of Directors began rebuilding. This required tremendous dedication and investment of time. Board members literally put their lives on hold just to steady the boat. The long process of regaining non-profit status was begun. Financial accounts and records were cleaned up. A new website was constructed. The bylaws were revised. Administrative policies were established. Work was begun on Standing Rules, a document that outlines the procedures of the Association with specific details that are not included in the bylaws. The name of the Association was changed from Pack Trial to Pack Trail to conform to a typographical error on the part of the State of Idaho where the Association is incorporated, and in the hopes of reflecting a broader scope for the Association. The Mileage Program was re-instated. A new curriculum for the Packer’s Primer training program was begun. Two new programs, GeoLlama and the Challenge were designed as vehicles for fun and education. The Challenge was tested and formally put into operation as an official PLTA program. Members willing to manage the Mileage Program and Challenge were found and trained. Committees necessary to support the goal of broadening the scope of the Association were identified and began to be established. Driving llamas were recognized as under the umbrella of PLTA working llamas and a new committee began a project to evaluate and promote them. Database research and designs are underway for construction of a new, more sophisticated system. The organization has taken steps to simplify the process of becoming a pack trial certifier and has added three new certifiers in the past year. Additionally, PLTA has stepped up to formally comment on attempts at national and state levels to limit the access of llamas to the backcountry, helping to reverse this proposal regarding national parkland in Alaska. Finally, members were polled to determine what their priorities are and how the Board can best support them.

Rebuilding is a major ongoing effort that has taken a toll on Board members. Trying to rebuild as quickly as possible has, at times, caused confusion. A mismatch between the dream, the continuing work, and available labor has caused board members to be overwhelmed with PLTA duties, family responsibilities, and real jobs. This has resulted in several resignations leaving four vacancies on the Board. Dedication to the PLTA's mission remains strong with the five remaining board members, however help is needed.

The Pack Llama Trail Association is special. There is no comparable llama organization in the world. The mission of the PLTA to preserve and promote working llamas, through education of the public and members of the association as to breeding, raising, training, care, and safe and humane uses of working llamas as companions is noble and necessary. The PLTA is designed to be member driven and the Board needs to hear more from you, the members. With only one member participating in the 2014 members’ meeting the Board replaced the 2015 meeting with a questionnaire sent out via email. A number of PLTA members responded and we thank them, but we are anxious to hear more.Support, constructively criticize, question, but become involved. Step in to replace the lost Board members, participate through committee work, writing/editing, program management and project efforts. Let’s not allow the previous president’s assessment that nobody cares and that nobody really wants the PLTA to ring true. If you have ever considered stepping up, voicing your opinion, and helping the PLTA move forward, now is the time. The couple of hours you volunteer per week will be rewarding for you and helpful to the PLTA for years to come.

Please visit the PLTA web site at http://packllama.org to join the organization, renew your membership, or contact any of the current members of the Board of Directors about how you can help. We are looking forward to working with our members to promote additional opportunities to train, test, and use working llamas and educate people about the joys of doing so. Thank you for your time.  

Lisa Wolf

President, Pack Llama Trail Association