Wrapping up another year here at the River of Time!
The end of the year is a time to reflect on where we’ve been and as we enter the New Year, look enthusiastically at where we’re heading. The Board of Directors, staff and many of our dedicated volunteers have been deep into the planning process over the last few weeks determining just that: what exciting, meaningful opportunities can we support in 2023.
Before we embark on the process of determining the operational plan for 2023, we take a look back at all the accomplishments and challenges of 2022. We are so proud of all we’re able to achieve in support of the River of Time, especially with our limited resources.
A Look Back at 2022 at the River of Time
2022 was an exciting year celebrating our growth and new direction resulting from extensive work during the global pandemic and shut down of museum operations. We got a new look, a new name, and the opportunity for new programming. Our year long journey of strategic planning and rebranding in 2021 resulted in our new name and focus, the L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum and Exploration Center!
Our rebranding also helped us to better focus on our mission of water conservation. The launch of our “Make a Splash” fundraising campaign is helping to generate the financial resources necessary to enable us to offer more water-themed programming. In 2023 this will include the addition of a docent led water conservation tour, water conservation activities and programming for students, and hosting a Town wide celebration of World Water Day in March.
“Oh…The Places You’ll Go…”
In support of the “Exploration” part of our name, we added a new off-grounds experience to join our already extremely popular Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation/River of Time tour. We call it “Fantastic Foragers.” It’s offered through a partnership the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and features talented Stewards who guide participants on a casual walk through the Sonoran desert discovering the plants and animals that the ancient people would have sourced for food and medicine.
This three-hour experience takes place at the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead and at the River of Time. A series of these offerings, which serve as an introduction to the FMYN/River of Time tour will be offered in 2023.
Temporary Exhibits to Make a Lasting Impression
Our 2022-24 strategic plan calls for a series of temporary exhibits to be mounted and featured throughout the year. These help focus in more detail on the myriad stories that couldn’t be included in the limited space of our existing building. Thanks to generous funding by the Arizona Historical Society and the Fountain Hills Community Foundation, we were able to purchase materials to construct our first two temporary exhibits.
Docents and staff are currently working on “Fantastic Foragers” – an exhibit in support of our newest Exploration Experience – and “Dr. Montezuma” in support of our lobby exhibit highlighting the work and life of one of the first Native American doctors and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation member. Look for these new exhibits to be launched in early 2023.
2022 Staff Update
Operationally, the River of Time is now led by a dynamic team of Directors, who are supported by an enthusiastic and talented Board of Directors. In 2022, we were able to add Linda McThrall to the staff position as the Director of Development and Outreach. Staff Administrative Assistant Yvonne Prater was promoted to her new position as Director of Operations. Both of these positions are integral to the operations and continued success and sustainability of the River of Time.
In spite of several creative efforts by staff and volunteers, 2022 was a challenging year financially for the River of Time. After a COVID forced hiatus, we brought back our always popular August fundraiser this year with a river theme. “Cruisin’ Down the River” treated about 100 participants to an evening of great food and music, but only generated a small profit. In an effort to generate much needed revenue, several new events were launched.
4XB was coordinated by Board Member Annette Mary and hosted by Harley Davidson in Scottsdale. A wonderful outdoor venue and fantastic music by the Josh West Trio attracted about 100 participants, some from outside of Fountain Hills.
A Fall Fashion Show co-produced by the local Chill Boutique attracted some 50 participants, many who had not been previously connected to the River of Time. In 2023 we will continue to explore alternative methods of fundraising in an effort to support a financially sustainable organization.
A Great Loss to the Community
We also experienced great sadness this year with the loss of our founder, Alan Cruikshank. Alan and a dedicated team of volunteers envisioned the River of Time and worked tirelessly for its creation. Since the late 1980s, Mr. Cruikshank had been involved in every aspect of museum operations making sure that the Lower Verde River Valley region and especially his beloved Fountain Hills, would be forever remembered through the work of the River of Time.
We are honored that Alan’s son, Brent Cruikshank, will continue to serve on our Board of Directors to ensure his father’s legacy and create his own path of support. The museum is Alan’s legacy, but it’s his vision, enthusiasm, and dedication that we carry forward as we work to secure the River of Time as a sustainable major attraction drawing visitors from not only the Valley of Sun, but throughout the world to Fountain Hills.
We are excited to look ahead to some new opportunities in 2023 including more additions to our Exploration Experiences. We are working on possible overnight excursions, and a water exploration series. With an increased focus on financial sustainability, there will be more prospects for our members to realize the advantages of becoming donors. Our community outreach will focus on the Verdes and Fort McDowell, as we work to expand our reach into our communities.
As always, we are so very grateful to our members. We are a non-profit organization supported by the generosity of our members and volunteers. We absolutely would not have realized all of our successes without YOU.
Have a Wonderful Holiday! I look forward to working together in the New Year!