A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I thank you for all your enthusiasm for and support of Fossil Rim this past year.
It has been a good year in many ways. Visitor numbers are up nicely on last year by about 12% thanks to the word-of-mouth effect from our visitors, volunteers and members but also to excellent work from our Marketing/PR/Membership Department on the internet and our Tourism Department on customer care and appreciation.
Education camps and programs have also experienced an uptick as the Education Department’s outreach efforts gain momentum in the public, private and home school environments.
On the conservation, research and animal front much positive has occurred, with healthy animals, many births including three cheetah litters, a newly arrived African cat species (to be announced soon), the launching of a new initiative with primary involvement from Fossil Rim to foster exotic hoofstock sustainability especially on private ranches, continued fieldwork in North Africa with the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) and its scimitar-horned oryx reintroduction program to the Republic of Chad, the best ever production of 351 Attwater’s prairie chickens for release beating the previous 2008 banner year by 23%, and finally in postgrad research projects with colleagues at Tarleton State University, Texas A&M and the Smithsonian Institution to mention just a few.
Our Finances, IT and HR Departments, mostly not in the limelight by the nature of their behind-the-scenes work, have nevertheless made significant contributions in financial and personnel administration, training and orientation of new personnel, in our enjoyment of fast and reliable communications with as well as enquiries and reservations from the outside world and internally and, very significantly, in Fossil Rim’s virtual operational financial self-sufficiency from on-site generated revenues. Great strides have been made by our Development Department, with recent events involving Fossil Rim in a big way at Gilley’s in Dallas with Willie Nelson and other country stars, and at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco with the Texas Legends basketball team.
Our participation in this past September’s North Texas Giving Day for only the second time produced a record contribution of over $36,000, with the best of it being staff contributions of over $3,000 from their own pockets, which leveraged another $3,000 matching donation from a Board member!
Of course, not everything goes well, and we experienced that in mid-February when our rustic 30+ year old gift store burned down late one cold night from an electrical fault.
Mercifully, there were no injuries to staff or visitors or animals or the outstanding firefighters from the Somervell County Fire Department, nor damage to any other of the nearby buildings – always a silver lining somewhere in a disaster! So, with help from insurances, individual donations, grants awarded by foundations, and wonderful support from our vendors, a new gift store is nearing completion along with an expansion of the Overlook parking lot and a re-organization of the entry and exit routes to the Overlook. All told it’s a $1.3m project and should be completed on budget and schedule, by the end of January. Our Support Services Department is project managing this with outstanding attention to detail, budget and schedule. We had to raise about 35% of this. Thanks to generous individuals and foundations, we are almost there but are still in need of around $70,000. So, please consider Fossil Rim as a beneficiary during your Christmas time of kindness and generosity – every $1 helps.
Once again, our many dedicated volunteers have come up trumps, and supported Fossil Rim operations with their own labor and time in so many different ways. They lead most of our guided tours, helped with the education camps and programs, and are Fossil Rim’s energetic ambassadors out there. We are thankful to them.
In addition to all the above, we had another great year for intern training. Some 14 interns in animal care, 2 in IT, and 7 in education spent 3-4 months each at Fossil Rim gaining hands-on real life experience doing the job and learning from their supervisors. We also hosted 7 vet preceptors in training during the year. We are proud of Fossil Rim’s intern and vet preceptor programs, some of which have been running for close to 30 years now.
Lastly, our nine member Board of Directors has diligently and enthusiastically supported our mission and operations all through the year. Their strengths and experiences continue to be a wonderful asset to Fossil Rim. We are grateful to them.
On behalf of the Board, our staff and volunteers, I wish you a peaceful and joyous Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.
Dr. Pat Condy