Trustee Profile: Dallas Gay
For Dallas Gay, Elachee has been a natural fit. Now Board Treasurer, Dallas, was originally introduced to Elachee by attending fundraisers with his good friend Buddy Langston, who shares a love of nature. “I didn’t understand what it was all about,” says Dallas. “Though, being at Elachee, around others people who are also enthusiastic, it’s contagious, a feeling that never goes away.”
Dallas shares, “you come to Elachee, then get inspired. As you become a part of a great group of other volunteers with a common interest, your dedication and inspiration grow.”
He adds, “There are other things I do that are also worthwhile. None gives me such a warm, heartfelt feeling as nurturing youth and helping them develop an appreciation for nature.”
Dallas grew up in nature with his imagination as his trusty companion. In his opinion, there’s nothing like the “creativity you develop by standing in the woods, picking things up, making forts and other things. When exposed to nature, children are more adept at taking things on and becoming more self-sufficient,” to face challenges and solve problems.
As a Trustee, he understands the imperative for continuously involving a greater number of people in Elachee’s work, to learn and share, to bring fresh thoughts and views.
“You’ll never invest much of yourself unless you have a passion for the mission,” Dallas offers. “Passion drives you to question what’s going on and to enhance it. You think about it outside of board meetings. It’s continuous: mind, energy, thoughts and money. The passion is here for a lifetime.”
What qualities does a future Elachee Trustee have? When planning for succession, Dallas looks for “who can lead, carry on and enrich the mission – a person who has shown leadership elsewhere, but has a unique, specific passion for nature education and conservation.”
Elachee’s future success depends on public awareness for all that’s positive about supporting a concern for nature and how that correlates to enriching children’s lives.
“Name another place that has roughly 1,500 acres of nature,” Dallas challenges. Elachee is nestled in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve in south Hall County, one of Georgia’s largest protected green spaces. “We are blessed to have this huge amount of land to care for,” he declares.
In his experience, Dallas says people who have a warmer feeling about Elachee and see that “something good is happening here,” will cycle through in any capacity.
“We have to foster those warm feelings, helping people understand and believe.” This ‘good thing’ comes through education and continuous communication, he says, subsequently paying off via support – time, talent and treasure. And that financial support is critical to build good programs. “But good programs require good money to support them,” Dallas cautions.
“People in this community are generous and give to worthwhile causes,” he continues. “We owe it to Elachee supporters to be good stewards of their money. Speaking as the Board Treasurer, Elachee needs more ‘long-term’ money,” to ensure sustainable programming.
“Money doesn’t guarantee success, but it makes it possible,” states Dallas.
Having a quality Board of Trustees comprised of good people who give time, thought and direction, paired with a great staff, is one half of the equation. Having adequate and long-term money to work with balances that equation, allowing this governing body to evaluate what’s happening operationally, to then effectively lead.
Nearing the end of his tenure as an Elachee Trustee, Dallas has this advice for future leaders. “Pick something meaningful to you and you’ll be better at it. Those interests that ‘stick’ are ones that you believe in and inspire in you the passion to see them succeed.”
LEARN MORE about Elachee Nature Science Center.