Survey Responses Informing Association Changes
People often ask me, "Don't you miss being at a center?" (I served as executive director of Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center for 15 years.) The short answer is yes, very much. The longer answer is that even though I miss the participants, the horses and everyone involved, I am thrilled and honored to be the CEO of PATH Intl. at this particular time. As we pursue PATH Intl. strategic goals, we are making great strides toward the vision of being a premier credentialing organization for equine-assisted activities and therapies. Within that process, we have also focused on learning more about you, our members.
Data we have gathered
from our 7,627 members and 866 centers indicates that only 30% of you have full-time, paid work in this field. More than half of our centers have budgets less than $100,000, and 41% of those centers have budgets between $20,000 and $50,000. We now understand that a large part of why only 6% of our membership attend the international conference and only 10% attend a regional conference is due to the fact that many members have to pay for the conference themselves as well as take time off from their "day" jobs to attend. It's just not affordable for many members, and we recognize the need to take this into account as we work on the strategic goal of providing quality, accessible education. You may have noticed the significant increase of PATH Intl. online education offerings. In the first three quarters of this year, we have already reached 8% of our membership through online education. Our intention is to continue to increase these offerings, which will expand the accessibility of education for our members. In addition, we will be making some changes to the annual conference in order to bring the cost down.
Due to the timing of these decisions and contracts already signed
, you won't see any changes this year and only slight changes in 2017 as this evolves. However, by 2018, we hope to roll out a more streamlined, affordable event. We are also working on the possibility of offering a virtual conference next spring as an additional educational opportunity. Look for more information about this possibility this fall.
All of this and a recent member survey informed a strategic planning board retreat held in May. The point of this retreat was to refresh the current strategic plan. In addition to the current priorities of accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification, quality assurance and increased educational opportunities, we are looking at sustainability for centers and individuals in this field. We will be looking at sustainable center models and determining how to provide access to the resources and tools needed for all centers to be successful. Along with that we will be looking at the question of full-time versus part-time work, livable wages and a career path. The refreshed strategic plan will be shared at the annual meeting as well as in future communications.
I am currently at the American Horse Council convention, and in July, I am representing PATH Intl. and the EAAT field at the
International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organization
triennial conference. I look forward to sharing this knowledge with you.
All the best,