In recent years, Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) explored ways to work together more closely with the goal of strengthening both organizations and increasing our effectiveness. We are pleased to report that the boards and memberships of both organizations voted to recommend joining forces to work together as a single organization, effective July 1, 2023.

We are confident that as a unified organization, we are stronger and can better meet the needs of the community. Both organizations formed around a strong commitment to the natural world. BTLT was created to protect valued local landscapes and resources; CREA was launched to educate people about those landscapes and resources. Our missions and programs are complementary — education about the natural world ensures that the next generation will understand, value, and actively safeguard the environment.

To learn more, click the “Stronger Together” button below and scroll down to access FAQ’s and Member meeting resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do CREA and BTLT want to merge?

We want to join forces because together, we can more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the community.

By joining forces, we will enhance our ability to support the community through conservation, education and engagement, and agricultural programs; expand our audience; reduce our administrative burden; and more.

Our union will be a net positive in the communities we serve. We will be using limited resources (e.g. staff, funding) more effectively, resulting in richer programming and robust support for protection of land and natural resources. We will use efficiencies achieved through unification to improve and expand the high-quality programs and activities that we offer. These include: CREA summer day camp, school-based outdoor science education, the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, stewardship of land and trails, nature-based programs for adults, and the Tom Settlemire Community Garden.

Supported by a dedicated and energetic Board, staff, and volunteers, we are confident in our ability to continue the high-quality work of both organizations. By working together, we will strengthen our organizational resilience. One plus one will equal three.

How will a merger affect existing programs?

All our programs will continue, including CREA summer camp and school programs, BTLT’s Farmers’ Market and community garden, and community events and activities. Regular community events hosted by both organizations will continue, such as speakers, guided walks, and events, but the merger will eliminate duplication of effort and expand our reach to new audiences.

A big benefit of the merger is the potential for growth of programs that isn’t currently feasible. For example, we will be exploring opportunities to expand CREA camp — currently at capacity in its current location — to another campus on a BTLT property. Staff will have access to a wider range of expertise in their co-workers, e.g. education, agriculture and local food, and communications.

Also, administrative and operational efficiencies achieved by combining two organizations into one will free up staff time for programming and program evaluation. In short, we will be more efficient and more effective in identifying and serving the needs of our communities.

Why is this a good idea for BTLT?

BTLT recognizes that effective nature-based education is essential to raising the next generation of conservationists. Through this alliance, BTLT gains a fully formed educational program and proven educational expertise that can be applied to BTLT landholdings and agricultural programs. This union also fulfills the community’s desire for more educational programming as expressed in BTLT’s 2019 community survey.

Why is this a good idea for CREA?

We believe this unification does more to secure and strengthen the educational mission than if CREA continues as a very small organization. As part of BTLT, staff will have better support for funding, expanding, and communicating about programs. We will also have access to a much more diverse land and resource base on which to conduct programs. A number of factors limit our ability to expand camp and school programs at the Preserve.

Also, BTLT’s more robust employee benefits will contribute to staff retention and longevity, an important factor in maintaining the high quality of educational programs.

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