Starting a Chapter

So You Want to Start a Chapter!

March 2023 Chapter Meeting

Are you in an area where no local Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) chapters exist? Want to learn more about native plants, how to grow them, how to identify them and how important they are? Have you thought about starting a chapter?

It’s not hard to start a chapter. The Society will help you, and the added bonus is that you will meet some neat folks with similar interests to yours in native plants and our environment.

Chapters around our state educate members as well as the community about our Texas native plants and their native ecoregions. Chapters offer speaker programs, plant sales, plant exchanges, field trips, seminars on plant-related topics, and the creation of public gardens, and more.

Chapter membership helps you get to know and work with others with similar interests at both local and state levels. Longtime Society members value the friendships they have developed as they work together. Regardless of experience, our members have information, experiences and enthusiasm to share.

Each chapter operates semi-autonomously, yet part of a larger organization that offers administrative support and the nonprofit status of an established 501(c)(3) organization. On the State Board, each chapter has one voting representative, the chapter president or a substitute appointed by the president.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any group of ten or more persons may petition the State Board to start a new chapter. Gather at least 10 signatures from interested persons and submit to them to with a request to become a chapter. Use this Petition for New or Reactivated NPSOT Chapter to document your 10 or more signatures. 

After that, the chapter must be approved at the next quarterly State Board meeting. By then you should know who will be leading your chapter.

The state Membership Coordinator is responsible for setting up your chapter so that people can join it. After you submit your 10 signatures and get approved at the quarterly State Board meeting, your chapter will be added as an option for people to join. At this point people who want to be members of this chapter should join online or use hard copy applications.

Chapters must have a president, secretary and treasurer. Other positions are helpful: programs, publicity, membership, plant sale chair, for example. You may line up volunteers for leadership positions, but they cannot be elected until the chapter has been approved by the State Board. Only Society members may hold positions on the chapter board.

Until your chapter is set up and able to welcome chapter members, you can continue to meet, talk about what you want to do, discuss how to publicize your chapter, and generate enthusiasm for the time that your chapter will be ready to welcome members!

Once your chapter is approved by the State Board, contact our State Accountant to get guidance on setting up your chapter bank account and obtaining your initial funds.

The Society requires that all chapters adopt bylaws that are not inconsistent with Society Bylaws. A copy of current chapter bylaws shall be submitted to the Executive Director within a year of chapter formation. Chapter-approved amendments must be submitted when approved by the chapter.

Also notify the State Webmaster of your upcoming meeting so the notice can be publicized. The webmaster will set up your initial chapter website for you.

Some tips for your organizing efforts

  1. Above all, be friendly. A good idea is to position a couple of people near the entry and make sure everyone entering is greeted, and someone finds out what they are interested in. Introduce them to members. Always put membership materials in their hands and answer their questions. A friendly chapter will grow.
  2. Your meetings are your time to shine. The more “put together” or professional your meeting is, the better the impression you will make on visitors, and the more likely they will be to join you.
  3. For all kinds of help, contact the Vice President Chapter Liaison for suggestions and guidance. 
  4. When choosing your chapter name, consider a short name that reflects your community. Use your city or county name, a regional name, particularly if you will be trying to draw members in from several communities. Here is a list of current chapter names.
  5. When choosing a regular meeting day, avoid conflicting with the meetings of other chapters or organizations. Also be aware of days like 4th Mondays which are always Memorial Day in May.
  6. Publicity is crucial to recruiting members and building interest. Use all avenues available to you: social media, newsletters of organizations (with permission), newspapers, community notices on radio and tv stations or through your city, post notices in common areas (with permission), talk with friends, neighbors, and relatives. Don’t forget people such as teachers, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, garden club members, park and nature center administrators, the environmental or gardening editors of any local newspapers or websites, and extension agents as good contacts.
  7. Pay attention to what individuals seem to enjoy doing and are good at. When you need a leader for a particular task, ask a person who seems to enjoy doing that kind of work. It seems obvious but often we forget.
  8. Many hands make light work. Spread out the load. Ask people to do relatively small but important and well-defined tasks. People who are involved with a group tend to stay active.
  9. Consciously develop chapter leadership. See tip #8. Be careful that board members don’t do it all for the chapter without really seeking help. They will burn out fast!
  10. Use the Chapter Tool Chest for guidance. Chapter leaders can learn best practices there. 
  11. Use the state Speaker’s Bureau as a resource for chapter programs. 
  12. Clearly label yourselves as Native Plant Society. Make a statement. Consider supplying magnetic nametags to members free. Choose shirts of the same color and style to wear at public activities. Put the NPSOT logo and your chapter name on them. 
  13. At a public event, remember to:
    • Wear your chapter shirts and nametags
    • Display NPSOT membership information
    • Have a “Friends” signup sheet to gather names and emails of interested people. Send your chapter newsletter or announcements to those folks.

Now is the time to just do it! Start your new chapter.

Clear Lake Chapter Event with New Member registration