This is gonna be boring…

I have procrastinated this as long as possible – it’s time to write my final post for the Field Journal. There are several reasons for my procrastination. For one thing, CFO work is pretty boring unless you’re a ‘number cruncher’. I happen to get excited when I need to create new Excel spreadsheet, but that’s not great grist for this mill. Also, I have struggled with what to say in a ‘final farewell’ post. The third, probably most significant, reason is that I am a procrastinator. Always have been, always will be.

A few people have asked me what in the world I’m still doing since the decision has already been made to dissolve the corporations. Others have asked me what happens to money that OM has left after we’re done with the work of shutting down the two corporations. Read on if you’re curious about these momentous questions, or if you simply don’t have anything better to do right now.

There’s a LOT to do. If you’ve been following the Friends of Operation Migration Facebook page, you’ve seen pictures of the office as Joe, Heather, and Chris gradually emptied it out. There were archives of records to sort out – what to keep, what to shred, what to recycle. There was office equipment to be sold, donated, or dumped. I realize this doesn’t answer the question about what I’ve been doing, although I did go up to Ontario last week to help out and to meet with our accountant. It was cold.

OM, like any business, subscribes or takes advantage of a lot of services – all must be identified and cancelled, from EZPass accounts to credit cards to internet and phone services, and so on. And timing must be carefully coordinated so I don’t pull the rug out from Joe’s Canadian credit card before he pays for the final truck repairs. Speaking of trucks, trailers, and motor homes, all that equipment had to be sold – some in the US and some in Canada. We even used an auctioneer in Wisconsin to get rid of a ton of small equipment like trailer hitches, tools, water hoses, pumps, and the like. We still have one truck left to sell – click here if you’re interested!

The process to dissolve a corporation in New York, where our US corporation is registered, is complicated. Pulling together all the forms, affidavits, etc. etc. for that process has taken a while. It’s much easier in Canada, but still takes time to research the PROcess and then put everything together.

That’s probably all you ever wanted to know about what I’ve been working on, so let me answer the second question – if we have money left after we sell all the physical assets, where does it go. The answer is the same in both countries – it must be donated to ‘like-minded non-profits’. OM’s mission is migratory species conservation and education, so any non-profit who will receive part of our final distribution has to align with those objectives. Where possible, we would choose organizations with a Whooping Crane connection because that has been OM’s specific labor of love, although our mission is not species-specific.

The decision as to who would receive our final donation(s) belongs to our Members, and they made that decision on September 24th, based on recommendations from the Board of Directors. OM’s U.S. corporation will make its final donations to Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Zoo New England, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, and the International Crane Foundation. In all cases, the donations are to be used specifically for Whooping Crane conservation and education.

Our final Canadian funds will be donated to FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program). FLAP is a registered charity that pours all its efforts “into protecting migratory birds from the life-threatening dangers of human-created environments.”

Once these donations have been made, the coffers will be empty. I will then work with the accountants in Canada and the U.S. to close the books, do a final audit, and prepare the final filings.


Here’s the part that I’ve been especially procrastinating… the final paragraph. How to express what Operation Migration has meant to me in the few years that I’ve been involved. The short answer is that it has meant everything – being directly involved in helping to save a species, working with (and learning from) such passionate, hard-working, creative, and entrepreneurial people, wow, just wow, what a privilege! I’m sad that it’s coming to an end – not for me, a ‘short-timer’, but for my friends who have given their heart and souls for 15, 20, 25 years, fighting uphill battles year after year on behalf of the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes, a population that did not exist until Operation Migration led the 2001 cohort into the skies on the first aircraft-guided southward migration. 

I need to stop because now I can’t see what I’m typing. Thank you Operation Migration for the incredible opportunity to be involved in something so exciting and meaningful (unlike insurance). And now I have to go work on an Excel spreadsheet. Yay!

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  1. David Sakrison December 31, 2018 5:17 pm

    Jo, you’re a wonder and a miracle-worker. I’m not a numbers person; my analytical work has always focused on ideas and concepts. Your spreadsheets and dashboards made the numbers easy to understand and evaluate. Your knowledge, abilities, patience, and good humor contributed immeasurably to OM’s board meetings. And I will miss your merry company. I hope to see you in Princeton, WI in 2019.

  2. Dorothy Nordness December 31, 2018 12:46 am

    Thank you, Jo, for you informative answers to good questions and for your heartfelt farewell to OM and all of us. I think of you daily when I walk by the travel trailer birdhouse you built 2 years ago — the year I busted my arm and had to go home early from the festival.

    I also kept hoping the news would change and you would all continue on. OM’s approach was an excellent example of the kinds of support that species recovery organizations need to copy to engage people. You and the rest of the staff were wonderful at what you did.

  3. Mindy December 23, 2018 4:40 pm

    Just want to say thank you for all of your incredible time and effort given to OM for the sake of Whooping Cranes. No one can possibly know what all you have done over the years to advance the Eastern Flock of Whoopers. Thank you for listing the organizations we might give to if we cannot give to OM. I have learned so much in the 6 years I have followed OM. I will never stop learning more about Whoopers….they have stolen my heart. And I will continue to educate wherever I can so that the next generation knows how important it is to protect them and work for their survival. I can barely see to type now so I will close. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy 2019 Jo Anne.

  4. Marguerite M Turk December 20, 2018 8:46 pm

    Will certainly miss all of you dedicated people who have made up the interesting group of Operation Migration. You tried so hard and gave it all you could. Hopefully the cranes will figure out how to survive on their own now and in the future there will be an Eastern Migratory of Whooping Cranes. Think positive . Thanks Jo-Anne

  5. Maggie Turk December 20, 2018 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much Jo-Anne and all the OM CREW. It has been great to join you on your adventures south with the “burds” and all the days of training before the flights. Enjoyed every minute . Hopefully some of them will find their way to the Horicon Marsh in the Spring. My husband passed away in June so I make my jaunts there by myself but I have all great memories and that helps. Take care and wish you well in any new venture you take on.

  6. Sue Merchant December 18, 2018 11:23 am

    Thank you, Jo-Anne, and everyone.

  7. softwalker December 18, 2018 10:13 am

    Thank you Jo-Anne;

    You didn’t mention one of your most important duties: CraneCam Mod and Driver :>) I miss our chat days on CraneCam — the ‘croco-poo’ and ‘to the left, no, the other left’!!!!!! Take care, and thanks for the ride!!!!!!

  8. Lindi Allen December 18, 2018 7:58 am

    I thank you for all you have done for OM and the Whooping Cranes, you work was very much appreciated and all that OM has done for the birds and to teach us about them. I love the birds so much more now I know more about them and have seen them for myself. I am thankful I can go to Wheeler each year and see them there wild and free doing what they do best. Take care Jo.

  9. Cheryl Murphy December 18, 2018 6:53 am

    I can barely see what I’m typing after reading your post. I can’t even bare to type your “last post”… so I won’t. It has been and will continue to be a pleasure to know you and the crew at OM. I can’t say enough about the work of OM. It made a difference. These beautiful wild birds are lucky to have had all of you. It is hard to imagine their world without OM. I wish I had a spreadsheet to work on to take my mind to another place. I’ll end by saying again, thank you! Please keep in touch. We can keep the friendships and the memories.

  10. Kate Crook December 18, 2018 5:51 am

    The first time I saw Brooke fly by leading the cranes, I was hooked! As I watched, huddled against a barn in Indiana, I thought a crowd of angels had flown by! Your work has been critical . You have given whooping cranes a chance to survive. What could be better than that? Thank you!

  11. Christy December 18, 2018 5:18 am

    Thank you, Jobel.

  12. Kay F Huey December 17, 2018 6:19 pm

    I can’t read it all. I’m sobbing too hard. I will come back, Jo-Anne. I will come back. . . . I kept hoping, some how, some where, OM would be saved and that the cranes would keep flying, soaring so high, until there were so many that there would be no doubt that they would flourish, far beyond man’s destructive ways. . . . Bless all of you for what you have achieved.

  13. Glenda May December 17, 2018 5:53 pm

    An amazing amazing group of people whose very souls have intertwined with the whoopers. That we could share your enthusiasm, passion, dedication and spirit, in just these small little ways on line, has been an honor and a blessing. Your closing thoughts are ever so appreciated (now, where ARE those tissues I keep…)

  14. Donald Huffman December 17, 2018 5:12 pm

    Thanks for all your effort; you were doing God’s work. I have followed the migration since ’01.

    Can’t help wondering if corruption is behind all this; not from OM but from others who are power hungry and money hungry.

  15. Michele Treadway December 17, 2018 4:41 pm

    I will miss all of what OM represented and represents in my heart. AND I don’t want to say “good bye.
    With tears

  16. Clark December 17, 2018 2:45 pm

    Hi Jo
    Thanks for all that you’ve done on behalf of the Whooping Cranes. I will miss checking the In The Field postings as it is something I have done daily for many years. It was great getting to meet you and everyone on the team when I was down in Wisconsin volunteering on a couple of fall migrations.
    All the best for the holidays and the future and if you are ever in the Chatham-Kent area give me a call and drop in.
    Clark Schultz

  17. Kirk December 17, 2018 10:33 am

    I shall miss checking “In the Field” almost every day since 2002 when I found OM’s web site. That means, of course, that I shall miss reading about all of OM’s people and friends as well as the cranes and their progress to independence.

    I was foutunate to spot a Whooping Crane circling upward within a kettle of sandhill cranes flying over northern Illinois then. I hope that OM’s people and supporters some how keep involved with the recovery work yet to come.

  18. John Christian USFWS retired December 17, 2018 10:04 am

    As another “pilot of the paper” I thank you for all you have done and wish you well for the future. Without us on the team it wouldn’t have happened!!

  19. Jane Maher December 17, 2018 9:53 am

    Thank you for everything, Jo-Anne. Words cannot express.

  20. Elsie Sealander December 17, 2018 9:50 am

    Thank you Jo-Ann for all your time and dedication to this wonderful project. Please extend my thanks to ALL involved. It is sad to see this work come to an end. But just think of the Whooping Cranes that are now migrating along the eastern part of North America. I don’t live near their flyway, but it must be a wonderful site when they fly overhead or stop over.

  21. Marilyn Fleming December 17, 2018 9:16 am

    Thank you is not enough.. Your passion is catching.

  22. Marilyn Fleming December 17, 2018 9:15 am

    Thank you is not enough.

  23. Agneta Sand December 17, 2018 9:05 am

    Thank you all for your great work ! ! ! I already miss you, and I know that the whoopers miss you too ! ! !

  24. Jonnie McFarland December 17, 2018 9:03 am

    Your post was definitely not boring! However, I could hardly see to read it – too many tears for the end of a wonderful, inspiring, and successful program. Good luck to you. Hope there are many new and challenging Excel spreadsheets in your future.