Watkins Mill Association, Inc.
26600 Park Road North
Lawson MO 64062
Watkins Woolen Mill
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 580-3387
Mission Statement
Watkins Mill Association is the official friends group for the State Park and Historic Site.  Our mission is to proactively support the preservation and living history of Watkins Woolen Mill National Historic Site.
CEO/Executive Director Board Chair is Executive Director
Board Chair Mr. David P. Ross
Board Chair Company Affiliation David P. Ross, LLC
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1958
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Watkins Mill Association is the official friends group for the State Park and Historic Site.  Our mission is to proactively support the preservation and living history of Watkins Woolen Mill National Historic Site.
Background Statement Clay County, Missouri's rolling hills are home to Watkins Mill, the last textile mill in the United States with original machinery intact.  Many buildings that Waltus Watkins built in half a century -- including the family mansion, three-story woolen mill, one-room school house and chapel -- have been preserved to give Visitors a sense of life in the 1870s.  College professors and K-12 teachers often include Watkins Mill in curricula for its historical importance in the Industrial Revolution and Civil War.

Watkins Mill Association (WMA) was founded in 1958 by three visionary businessmen who bought the Watkins property.  The Association then persuaded Clay County voters to support a collaboration with Missouri State Parks:  In 1964, Watkins Woolen Mill became a State Historic Site within a new State Park.  It is now the region's premier historic site.  Each year Watkins Mill attracts thousands of Visitors, locally and nationally.

WMA was the driving force in Watkins Mill's restoration and recognition by:
  • National Historical Landmark, United States Department of the Interior, 1966
  • National Register of Historic Places, 1966
  • Clay County Historic Landmark, confirmed 1976
  • National Mechanical Engineering Landmark, 1980
Watkins Mill is managed with a State Facilities Director and small staff.  WMA is not a management company -- we are the official friends organization.  Our people (Members, Volunteers, Visitors, program participants) build community through education, the arts, history and outdoor recreation.  WMA recently began contracting three part-time professionals to support our goals for growing by managing marketing, communications and event production.

Watkins Mill must move from a staff-driven to a Volunteer-driven culture, as the State steadily decreases staff. Well-trained Volunteers bring the 1870s to life, listening and responding to Visitors' interests: 
  • Home and Mill Tours provide in-depth views of domestic life, farm operations and the textile industry
  • Industrial Revolution Program lets students compare hands-on production and safety methods before-during-after the Industrial Revolution
  • Living History Farm Program engages students in traditional 1870s activities
  • One-Room School House Program immerses students in 19th century education
  • Natural History Interpretive Programs take advantage of the Park's flora and fauna
  • Specialized Volunteers manage archives, heirloom gardens, historic livestock and farm operations
Impact Statement

Watkins Mill Association (WMA) is growing Historic Site activity. Our programs appeal to folks interested in local causes that integrate healthy lifestyles and the arts into daily living, support children and families, and help organizations be self-sufficient.

Strategically, WMA is creating long-term sustainability for Watkins Mill Historic Site by increasing Visitors, Volunteers and dues-paying Members, while strengthening community business relationships. We are pleased to report these 2016 results from our growing initiatives. 
  1. 154% 2-year increase in dues-paying Association Members
  2. 22% 2-year increase in active Board Members
  3. 6% 2-year increase in Volunteers, reversing a downward trend
  4. 16,169 Historic Site Visitors, exceeding the 15,000 goal, and 512,801 total Park Visitors
  5. Continued creative and educational Workshops
  6. Expanded community outreach by WMA Board and Staff
  • Active participation by Board Members in four area Chambers of Commerce (Lawson, Excelsior Springs, Kearney, Liberty)
  • Increased collaborations with other Historic Sites and nonprofit associations, special interest groups, City Halls, libraries and businesses, print and electronic media

      7. Dramatically leveraged our social media and online networks to reach and engage more people:

  • 85% 2-year increase in Constant Contact email network
  • 80% 2-year increase in website visits
  • 57% 2-year increase in website page views
  • 26% 2-year increase in Facebook “Likes”
  • 300% 2-year increase in Twitter Facebook messages and tweets

      8. 60% 2-year increase in earned income from programs, events, book sales, etc.

WMA has set aggressive annual goals. We will increase numbers by increasing the quantity of quality Visitor experiences.
  • Increase Members by 10%
  • Maintain Volunteer levels
  • Increase Historic Site visits by 1,500
  • Increase website visits and social media participation
  • Maintain active Board participation in four local Chambers of Commerce
Needs Statement

WMA must create a sustainable future for Watkins Mill Historic Site. Donations build resources to attract more Visitors, Volunteers and Members.  We seek:

  • Underwriting and support for WMA's annual fall fundraiser, the Harvest Gala.
  • Support for the annual 6K run, certified and sanctioned to attract more participants. Registrations and Sponsorships are recruited to create new revenue streams.
  • Enhanced electronic resources to improve outreach, increase awareness and communications, and accept payments -- all without adding staff.
  • Expanded education and artistic programming. Underwrite new Creative Workshops, which will generate future revenues.
Service Categories
Historical Organizations
Areas of Service
MO - Clay County
MO - Buchanan
MO - Caldwell
MO - Clinton
MO - Jackson County
MO - Lafayette
MO - Platte County
MO - Ray County
KS - Atchison County
KS - Johnson County
KS - Leavenworth County
KS - Wyandotte County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

Watkins Mill Historic Site is a jewel, unique in the nation, and the finest historic site in the Kansas City region. WMA's job is to ensure this treasure's long-term sustainability -- as all State funding shrinks. We are meeting this challenge by growing Visitor counts and creating a business model of self-funded quality attractions.

  1. WMA must reach out and share the charm and benefits of Watkins Mill's culture, past and present. We do it by harnessing social media resources, linked through our website. We cost-effectively showcase information and opportunities for dynamic two-way communications with enthusiasts, special interest groups and target audiences. We share favorite photos, experiences and invitations to new activities.
  2. WMA is creating annual events that generate new revenue. Our fall Harvest Gala is a lively and successful fundraiser. The 6K Get Outdoors Run around the Park's picturesque lake is popular for runners and area sponsors.
  3. People Like Creative Workshops and Quality Programs -- and they will pay for value. Evaluations show workshops bring new people to the Historic Site, increase awareness, generate interest, create positive experiences, build a network of enthusiasts -- and create natural opportunities to recruit Volunteers and Members.

Watkins Mill Historic Site offers an amazing heritage -- connecting nineteenth century living with today. Interpretive performers in period garb use 1870s tools and resources. The Mill, Home and Farm attract folks interested in history, the Industrial Revolution, agriculture and textile businesses, heirloom gardening, animal husbandry, food preservation and practical arts. We showcase the growing season and its activities in four popular events: Spring on the Farm, Music Fest and Back Porch Jam, Fall on the Farm, and Christmas on the Farm.

Watkins Mill is expanding activities to become self-sustaining, just as it was in the 1870s.

Since 2009, Missouri has decreased the Watkins Mill staff -- making today's Volunteers vital to the Historic Site's sustainability.  Well-trained Volunteers bring the 1870s to life, often as interpretive performers in period costumes.  
  • Home and Mill Tours provide in-depth views of domestic life and the textile industry.
  • Living History Farm Program engages students in traditional 1870s activities.
  • Industrial Revolution Program lets students compare hands-on production and safety methods before and during the Industrial Revolution.
  • One-Room School House Program immerses students in 19th century education.
  • Natural History Interpretive Programs take advantage of the Park's flora and fauna.
  • Specialized Volunteers manage archives, heirloom gardens, historic livestock and farm operations. 

Volunteers are an investment, requiring two to four weeks of training.  They understand Watkins Mill and life in the 1870s -- and make that heritage relevant to today's Client/Visitors.

Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success
Watkins Mill is moving from a staff-driven to a Volunteer-driven culture.  The hours and pay are different, yet the mind-set must be the highest caliber.  Effective operations still require balancing professional commitment, responsibility and job satisfaction.  Volunteers must do important work -- and enjoy it.  Otherwise, they disappear.
Our new Client/Volunteer-driven culture requires mutual investment.  WMA must identify, screen, recruit, train and retain each individual prospect, just as professional firms hire employees.  Training a new Volunteer requires two to four weeks minimum:  studying the manual, viewing videos, shadowing experienced tour guides, helping with events, etc.  Mastering Watkins Mill's stories and heritage takes time. 

Volunteers are the secret to increasing historic, education and creative arts programs -- and increasing special interest and student group activities.  Volunteers are encouraged as they reach more Visitors who enjoy sharing the experience.

Long-Term Success
Client/Volunteers give time to Watkins Mill because they enjoy it and believe in our cause.  This workforce deserves and receives good training, personal satisfaction and positive recognition.  Good Volunteers earn a sense of personal ownership in the Historic Site.
We are diversifying the volunteer base and helping them build community pride with social networking tools.  They have become our most effective recruiters for more Client/Volunteers -- exactly what Watkins Mill needs.
Program Success Monitored By
Quality experiences are essential to Volunteer recruiting and retention.  Unbound by salaries, Volunteers must feel personally rewarded by their work or they cease to participate.  Consequently, success in WMA's Volunteer Development program can largely be measured quantitatively. 
  • The State keeps accurate records on Volunteers and their hours.
  • We can count extra group visits hosted by Volunteers when State staff is spread too thin.
  • By increasing the number of qualified Volunteers, WMA can increase marketing efforts, attracting more special-interest and student groups.
  • Volunteers provide useful feedback on Visitor activities and how they are received. 

Volunteers are ultimately the key to Watkins Mill's sustainability.  More Volunteers will drive more quality programs and Visitor experiences.  We are increasing Volunteers' empowerment and personal ownership in their work, because we need them as partners for a viable Watkins Mill.

Examples of Program Success
  • Ask folks why they Volunteer at Watkins Mill.  Most say they feel needed or love what they do.  The secret formula is:  stimulate interest, match talents with available jobs, provide good training, build confidence, allow capable people to own their work, then recognize their value. 
  • Ask a psychologist working in the archives.  He enjoys the job, atmosphere, researching Visitors' genealogy and Volunteers' questions.  He provides continuity for the Mill's future, keeps his mind engaged and is useful to others.  
  • Ask a retired educator, fascinated by the property as a child.  As a teacher, Watkins Mill was great for field trips.  Once a Smithsonian Textile Manager opened kids' eyes to the Mill's importance.  One time an Army Major held kids' rapt attention explaining how the machinery worked.
  • Ask an RN who delights in demonstrating historic cooking.  Ask a Master Gardener, dedicated to growing and preserving heirloom plants.  Each Volunteer enjoys work that matches personal interests.
Watkins Mill Association began this initiative to: 
  • Produce new education and arts programs that attract more new and repeat Visitors.
  • Provide a variety of satisfying enriching events that cultivate both faithful and broader audiences.
  • Create natural opportunities for interested participants to join the Watkins Mill family as Volunteers and Members.

The Historic Site provides a rich cultural heritage and outstanding resources as subject matter.  We are building on popular annual events (Annual Music Fest and Back Porch Jam; plus Spring, Fall and Christmas on the Farm).  We are producing a variety of interactive and historical programs, creative expressions with various fine arts, performance arts, and live blue grass and country music.

Quality events with entertainment value are key to creating fee structures required for ongoing program vitality -- and for the Historic Site's long-term sustainability.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success
Client/Visitors are central to WMA's strategic plans.  Increasing attendance, Volunteers, Members -- and corresponding revenue -- requires a Client-centric focus, moving FROM: 
  • Being unaware of Watkins Mill TO giving it a try.
  • Having an "events-are-free" mind-set TO paying for value.
  • Passively watching events TO enjoying pro-active involvement.
  • Seeing Watkins Mill as a bucket-list attraction TO delighting in frequent visits.
  • Being one-time Visitors TO becoming program
    participants, Volunteers and Members. 

We create opportunities for Client/Visitors to take ownership in the new programming culture.  For starters, we ask what programs they want, they tell us, we produce them.  They vote "yes" with paid registrations and attendance.  They evaluate programs, and offer feedback for future events.  They share their discoveries with friends and family, and through WMA's online social media network.  Activities, workshops and events are increasingly driven by Client interests.

Long-Term Success
WMA's Clients are Historic Site Visitors, whose satisfaction with our artistic and educational events is essential.  We must offer programs to attract more Visitors -- programs generating revenue to cover costs -- programs extending our marketing reach with social media. 

The programs' success will help ensure Watkins Mill's sustainability.  State funds are shrinking.  For the Historic Site's long-term survival, we must attract more enthusiastic Clients -- as Visitors, Volunteers and Members.

Program Success Monitored By
Increased Client involvement is a solid indicator of program success.  The State keeps accurate counts of Visitors, groups and Volunteer activities.  WMA keeps accurate records on Members, program participation and evaluations.  Tracking simple counts helps keep us moving in the right direction with Client satisfaction.  We also appreciate the importance of quality programming in supporting numeric growth.  Relationships with William Jewell College History Professors help ensure we are collecting meaningful data from participants and instructors -- then understanding the information and acting on it.
WMA's Client database supports the growing network.  Individuals sign up to receive announcements and access social media activities.  Online resources make it easy for users to share interests, photos and even video clips of their Mill visits.  Fresh real-time content encourages repeat visits and provides opportunities to cultivate personal involvement and activism.
Examples of Program Success
WMA turned the Historic Site into a destination, restoring Watkins' home, Mill and farm buildings.  It worked.  Watkins Mill is now the region's premier historic attraction.

We are now creating new reasons to visit.  Creative Workshops attract new Visitors and loyal friends.  Since inception, detailed scores are 95-100% positive.  Written comments show enthusiastic appreciation.

Workshops also involve participants in WMA's social media network, sharing comments and favorite pictures. 
  • Our website receives a steady 2000 views/month, rising to 2800 for special events.  Knowing where visits originate (referral sites, direct visits, search engines) helps planning.
  • Marketing emails for workshops have a 35-40% open rate (eNonprofit Benchmark is 14%).  Emails promoting workshops have 3-31% click rates (Benchmark is 1.7%).
  • Our Facebook page increases "Likes" by 5.5%/month, and shows activity bumps during events.
  • Our Twitter account recently attracted a 34% growth in "followers."
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Board Chair is Executive Director
Term Start Jan 2017
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Paid Part-Time Staff 3
Volunteers 117
Paid Contractors 0
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures No
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
CEO Comments Watkins Mill State Historic Site and State Park are managed with a Missouri State Facilities Director and small staff. The Watkins Mill Association is not a management company -- we are the official friends organization. Our people (Members, Volunteers, Visitors, program participants) share passions for building community through history, outdoor activities, education and the arts. Together we are creating a sustainable future for the Historic Site.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. David P. Ross
Company Affiliation David P. Ross, LLC
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2020
Email davidpross@kc.rr.com
Board Members
Mr. David Blyth The Lawson Review
Mr. Gary Boyer Watkins Family
Ms. Margo Boyer Watkins Family
Mr. Raymond R. Brock Jr.Northland Curry Real Estate, Watkins Family
Ms. Judith Ann Case Wealth Springs, LLC
Mr. Mark Claypole Goppert Financial Bank
Mr. Keith Doss Kearney Trust Company
Mr. Doug Ervin Cerner Corporation, Former MO State Legislator
Mr. Spence Heddens Retired, US Trust Bank of America
Mr. Dennis Heine Retired
Mr. Larry Janacaro Retired
Ms. Bette Frass McDaniel Retired Educator; Grew up on Watkins Mill site
Mr. Byron McDaniel Retired Air Force, CPA and Journalist
Mr. Chad Means The Carlyle Group; Watkins Family
Mr. William Mitchell Retired Architect
Mr. James Moffett Retired, Scout Investments
Ms. Amy Pieper Commerce Trust Company
Dr. Elaine Reynolds William Jewell College
Mr. David P. Ross David P. Ross, LLC
Mr. Donald S. Ross Retired, Independence Public Schools
Mr. Hal Sandy Trustee EmeritusRetired, Marketing Consultant and Graphic Artist
Mr. Dieter Schmitz Trustee EmeritusRetired, Bayer; Rancher near Watkins Mill Historic Site
Ms. Irma Schmitz Trustee EmeritaMaster Gardner; Volunteer Manager, Watkins Mill Master Heirloom Gardening Program
Ms. Ann Sligar Trustee EmeritaRetired, Watkins Mill; Author, Watkins Mill history books
Mr. Sam Switzer Retired, Open Options
Ms. Elizabeth Thompson Northland Therapeutic Riding Center
Mr. K. Russell Weathers Agriculture Future of America
Mr. David Wharton Retired, Stinson Leonard Street; Watkins Family
Ms. Sarah Wilmes Diagnostic Imaging Centers
Mr. Brock Winkelbauer City of Liberty, MO
Ms. Stacey Winkelbauer Commerce Trust Company
Ms. Megan Wyeth Megan Wyeth Photography; Watkins Family
Mr. Jack Wymore Trustee EmeritusRetired
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 33
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 21
Female 11
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 4
Board Term Limits 0
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Special Events (Golf Tournament, Walk / Run, Silent Auction, Dinner / Gala)
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $77,350
Projected Expenses $77,350
Endowment Value $263,000
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported from IRS Form 990-EZ.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$31,412$31,272$69,757
Administration Expense$11,788$26,606$9,054
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.071.160.88
Program Expense/Total Expenses73%54%89%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$266,693$263,797$255,796
Current Assets$255,945$246,333$238,331
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$1,540
Total Net Assets$266,693$263,797$254,256
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities----154.76
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Organization Comments
Organization Name Watkins Mill Association, Inc.
Address 26600 Park Road North
Lawson, MO 64062
Primary Phone (816) 580-3387
Contact Email wma@watkinsmill.org
CEO/Executive Director Board Chair is Executive Director
Board Chair Mr. David P. Ross
Board Chair Company Affiliation David P. Ross, LLC
Year of Incorporation 1958