Finding Species Inc

aka FS   |   Takoma Park, MD   |  www.findingspecies.org
This organization has not appeared on the IRS Business Master File in a number of months. It may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.
This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.

Mission

Finding Species mission is to uniquely contribute to the resolution of critical environmental [and conservation/biodiversity] issues through aesthetically beautifully, scientifically significant photographs.

Finding Species' unique approach builds from four cornerstones: photography, science, technology, and partnerships.

Photography: We photograph species that need to be accurately identified because they are endangered, new to science, native to unique regions, or invasive and therefore harmful to other species. We photograph habitats that need to be seen due to human encroachment. Finding Species ensures that each photographic portrait is of the highest aesthetic quality.

Science: We write profiles of species to accompany our photographs. We also write articles about biodiversity science. We use non-technical language, to make field identifications easier and to make the science accessible for all.

Technology: We pioneer standardized methods and use professional equipment, to make our photographs a permanent archive for humanity. We employ digital technologies and printed media in innovative ways, to reach as wide an audience as possible and reconnect the public with its local and global biodiversity heritage.

Partnerships: The combined creativity and knowledge of interdisciplinary teams is essential to our success. Finding Species' board, staff, and volunteers come from different disciplines in biology, photography, policy, and finance. We actively build partnerships with government agencies, conservation organizations, museums, research scientists and universities, communities, and schools.

From these four cornerstones, Finding Species undertakes educational projects, conservation campaigns, and scientific research. Through all our programs, Finding Species makes the natural world and its species and habitats uniquely compelling, and threats to them undeniable, so that each person is inspired to learn about and help protect them.

Ruling year info

2003

Executive Director

Mrs. Bejat McCracken

President

Mr. Norm Bourg

Main address

PO Box 5289

Takoma Park, MD 20913 USA

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EIN

56-2324495

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Finding Species ID- Canada LeafSnap

LeafSnap combines innovative technologies and Finding Species standardized photography to document taxonomic
characters of trees, making them accessible via leafsnap.com website and the iPhone and iPad app. LeafSnap facilitates the identification and cataloging of tree species around the world. Now serving as one of the most current and enormous database that takes the worlds largest computer to analyze. The overall project advances science and conservation through citizen science.

Population(s) Served

Cataloging and Publishing Finding Species most innovative, beautiful, and charismatic photos. Private donors have requested to see photos available online for the general public. Funds raised go directly to funding projects to document species.

Population(s) Served

Finding Species wants to document endangered species and share the images in related public venues. These species are in peril for many reasons such as habitat loss, climate change and invasive species. Finding Species creates awareness with our photos and their related stories which are impactful and educational.

Finding Species is unique in that we integrate science, photography and design to create standardized methods of photo-documenting plants and animals, using them to engage critical audiences in action.
Spreading the word about endangered species through presentations at nature centers, arboretums, zoos and gardens can educate the public, helping ensure their survival.

We seek to bring a face to endangered species throughout the US. Taking photos and presenting them with charismatic yet scientific photographic recognition conveys the species’ plight. We create an awareness for endangered species and their related stories are impactful and educational. Discussions after each presentation will spark dialogue and support for the work of Finding Species. Individuals will be inspired to make changes in their everyday lives in our ever-growing campaign to save endangered species.

Population(s) Served

Finding Species was founded on the photographic body of work documenting the countless species in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. Located in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Yasuní is known to be the most biodiverse place on Earth (Global Conservation Significatince of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park published in PlosOne). More trees grow in a single hectare (2.47 acres) of upland rainforest in Yasuni—655 species—than in the continental US and Canada combined. In 25 hectares, the number of tree species rises to 1,100. "In just one hectare in Yasuní, there are more tree, shrub, and liana (woody vines) species than anywhere else in the world," explains Gorky Villa.

It is therefore not surprising that the book comes with impeccable academic and educational quality as well as an attractive and efficient design. Also worth mentioning an aspect that places this book above many others in the genre: the inclusion of ecological and cultural information gathered in the field with the indigenous inhabitants of the area. The result is a rich blend of knowledge of two worlds of Western science and cohabitation of the centennial of the Amazonian peoples with their environment.

The Common Trees of Ecuador classifies trees simply by leaf structure providing an easy to use field guide in a complex environment. Published in Spanish, it will soon be released in English and the indigenous language of Yasuní’s Waorani. Botanists, photographers and Waorani have collaborated to find, identify, photograph, press and document this first edition of trees.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Images that are indispensable in capturing attention, communicating conservation needs, and catalyzing action.

A book of photographs by Ansel Adams of Kings Canyon, California, was shown to President Franklin Roosevelt, and turned him into a key supporter of designating the area as a national park. Photographs showing the beauty of the species and habitats of the Tongass National Forest, and threats from ongoing clear cutting, were exhibited for members of Congress, and given to them in books. These were essential in spurring changes to logging regulations and in the creation of untouchable zones. Photographs of polar bears in distress have generated widespread public concern about loss of Arctic ice and have generated demand for an endangered species listing for these bears. National Geographic photographer, James Balog, has been documenting through time lapse photography how our warming climate is melting the world's glaciers and polar ice at an alarming rate, an incredible depiction of climate change.

Given the quantity of visual information that surrounds us today, it is even more important that biodiversity images can stand out and be easily shared with key decision makers and the public. There is a critical role for an organization that integrates science and photographic art—and that takes strategic advantage of emerging web technology—to produce and disseminate captivating biodiversity images that catalyze action for threatened areas and endangered species. There is a need for standardized scientific photos that depict key characteristics in an artful form. Finding Species has responded to these needs, developing a unique approach that "gives a face to biodiversity."

Finding Species works with partners, individuals, educators and the general public to engage their environment.

Finding Species produces inspiring standardized photos depicting species in a scientific manner, fulfilling what would be a lost opportunity to get individuals of all ages motivated by their technology, with LeafSnap website and free iPhone and iPad app. Providing games on projects like the LeafSnap app, engages kids, providing education as they interact with nature photographing leaves that are digitally "read" producing suggestions exhibiting Finding Species standardized photos for viewing. The individual becomes a citizen scientist as a gps point and species data is being logged all over the world as species are identified from North America to China. The largest computer in the world is downloading this data that will be invaluable for climate change research. Partners and individual donors provide the majority of funding for Finding Species' work on LeafSnap. FS seeks to expand LeafSnap to Texas covering its most common trees. This will allow Finding Species to diversify funding by approaching Texas Foundations and establishing local partners like San Antonio Botanical Gardens, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Research Center, Texas State University (Tree Campus USA with joint proposed Arboretum project funding submitted 2015), and Austin Botanical Gardens.

Volunteers help document species and are uploading to EOL and FS SmugMug site. FS is exhibiting photos from past and current projects on their photo gallery website at http://findingspecies.smugmug.com/ These photos are available for the world to find, view and use from everything to prints on canvas to digital downloads for use in books, magazines, internet, articles, publications, etc. This is a unique way to provide endless use for the project photos and diversify Finding Species funding. FS is continually searching for new online venues to share its photographic work.

Expanding FS book projects in Ecuador and the development of Changing Landscapes, which will bring the citizen science approach to Ecuador's critical regions. Such projects inspire change and conservation. Partnering with known locals, research stations, and universities, FS will continue to gather data and photos of critical areas with esteemed research assistants.

GeckoWeb continues to grow as FS crowd funds for each additional gecko. GeckoWeb has the potential to become a smart phone app and citizen science based project to ID and add location for geckos encountered by the general public, whether it be in the wild or in the zoo, as would be noted in the app. GeckoWeb can grow with usage as the crowd funding campaign will include promotional exterior quality stickers to be distributed to zoos, museums, schools, and natural areas to be adhered to interactive signage. Although it may not be an app, where internet is accessible, the website serves as the ID reference for geckos.

Dedicated donors and the diverse resources like those mentioned here make for the successful team that is Finding Species.

Finding Species has vast in-kind resources. Dedicated present and past employees passionately work and volunteers help "give a face to biodiversity". Finding Species is has limited overhead costs as employees office from home and work in the field. In-kind donations average $100,000 annually. Finding Species Senior Staff, Gorky Villa has been with the organization since it's founding in 2002 and Bejat McCracken has worked with the organization since 2008, being hired as the photographer for LeafSnap, http://leafsnap.com/, Trees of the Northeastern United States in 2010. The institutional knowledge shared between these two senior employees allows them to manage consultants for projects and maintain continuity. The closing of the Find Species Ecuador offices in 2012 provided a unique opportunity for FS to strengthen it's US operations.

Projects, like LeafSnap have been growing and spreading into other countries like Canada and England. Finding Species has advised the LeafSnap England team who are not directly affiliated with Finding Species as FS grows throughout North America. Growing projects define Finding Species, LeafSnap and GeckoWeb being the strongest examples. FS strong partnership with the Smithsonian, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland brings the world and application like no other that has been documenting trees since 2010. This data will be invaluable for years to come as the average citizen is correctly identifying the trees as each photo is checked by intern scientists.

Working with a limited staff and contracting trained professionals familiar with FS, the organization is able to be efficient and stable. Continuous projects like LeafSnap and dedicated donors keep FS financially stable, along with its loyal donors. Dedicated employees acquire funding for these projects, working closely with the FS board. A level of checks and balances has been maintained with monthly conference calls, keeping board members actively involved and the Executive Director fully engaged with the board.

As Finding Species populates the internet with it's wealth of photographic imagery progress is made by means of funds generated and photographic exposure for new and existing projects.

FS photos are continuously being used for such items as The Common and Conspicuous Trees of Yasuni, LeafSnap, and the internet. Social media has been a venue where FS can educate those online about conservation, with a focus on current projects, especially trees. Social media and the internet allow FS to broadcast photos in venues like EOL, SmugMug, and Facebook.
In the last couple years FS has produced the Common Trees of Yasuni book, an Ecuadorian National Map, photographs for New Species of Oilingo in Ecuador Publication, photographs in use for endangered Nymphaea thermarum (publications, presentations, online), additional tree species added to LeafSnap and expanded into Canada, A Species a Day to be released in Ecuador's La Hora, articles, presentations, and pamphlets.

LeafSnap, originating in 2006, was only an idea where FS began documenting species. Partnering with the Smithsonian, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland, FS grew into a confident organization based in both Ecuador and the US until 2012, when FS closed it's Ecuador office. The closure of the Ecuador office was due to an inhospitable environment for international NGOs in Ecuador. Finding Species continues to develop and finish existing projects like The Common Trees of Yasuni book and Andean Wetland Birds book. The goal is to keep a face in Ecuador and introduce new projects that build on existing or previous projects. With offices being state side it is difficult to motivate these projects, but the perseverance of FS dedicated staff has brought this and other projects to fruition.

Finding Species is now based in San Marcos, TX and Takoma Park, MD. New projects are being developed in these local areas, along with further development of existing projects in Ecuador. Scientists, photographers, and institutions are coming together to gather information to enable us to make better decisions for the future of this planet. Finding Species provides documentation that is vital, like that of Audubon's prints. It dictates a time a place in which species are documented scientifically with precise detail and style, or scientifically thought of as FS methodology. The art of nature is seen in every photo as the species are the sole focus on the black background.

Financials

Finding Species Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Finding Species Inc

Board of directors
as of 4/29/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Norm Bourg

Smithsonian Institute

Term: Sept 2014 - Sept 2015

George Loening Founder, Chairman of the Board, President, Portfolio Manager, and Treasurer, Honorary Board Member for FS

Select Equity Group, Inc.

Jane Bass Consultant, Advising Board Member for FS

Rachel's Network

Elizabeth Losos, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, President and CEO Organization for Tropical Studies, Advising Board Member for FS

Duke University, Organization for Tropical Studies

Robin Foster, Ph.D. Conservation Ecologist, ECCo; and Adjunct Curator, Botany Dept.,Honorary Board Member for FS

The Field Museum

Margot Bass FS Founder and Advising Board Member

Finding Species

Shawn McCracken, Ph.D. Research Professor, Herpetologist, Texas and Tropical Studies, Board Member for FS

Texas State University

Linda Keenan Botanist, Nonprofit Specialist, Consultant, Board Secretary for FS

National Association for Olmsted Parks, Trust for Public Land

Louise Twiss Business development and client service, Advising Board Member for FS

HSBC Global Asset Management (Bermuda) Ltd.

Tanya Tarasova Finance and Administration Manager, Board Treasurer for FS

The Marshall Legacy Institute

Yuri Huta Digital Imaging Specialist, Board Member for FS

Medicos Consultants, LLC

Norm Bourg Research Associate and Consulting Ecologist, botanist, Board President for FS

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution.

Tina Cade Professor of Horticulture, Manages Bobcat Blend, Board Member for FS

Texas State University, Bobcat Blend Composting Program

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No