Where Can a Commission Find More People To Help?

Once a commission is established and involved in numerous projects, members may wish for more people to share the work. Although the number of regular members of a commission cannot exceed the number authorized by local vote (between 3 and 7), RSA 36-A:3 allows for the appointment of an unspecified number of alternate members. Alternates who serve "in the absence or disqualification of a regular member" have full voting powers. A commission should encourage alternates to attend meetings regularly and to participate in commission activities.

In addition, RSA 36-A:2 allows a commission to "appoint such clerks and other employees or subcommittees as it may from time to time require." Conservation commissions may use this provision to create subcommittees to expand available manpower and expertise. Potential commission members may be asked to work on a short-term project as members of a committee chaired by a commission member. Others with a particular area of expertise may be willing to assist the commission on occasion but prefer not to participate on a regular basis. In some instances, former conservation commission members continue to contribute to the work of the commission as "advisors" or "associate members".

Conservation commissions in New Hampshire have used these techniques to expand participation and capabilities beyond those of appointed commissioners. However, attendance by volunteers who are not officially appointed to the commission may not participate in official action, such as voting on commission business.

When new members are appointed to the conservation commission it is important to engage and involve them from the beginning. Consider assigning a mentor to help train the new member and create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone's opinion is valued.


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