Esther Berry, Aberdeen WA
The National Board of Directors of the American Rhododendron Society met in Philadelphia on October 13, 1979, our new president Fred Galle presiding. Many of the visiting directors had the privilege of attending a meeting of the Philadelphia Chapter on the previous evening.
Several important new proposals were considered. Very new and especially interesting was a proposal for computer data management presented by George Ring. Dick Murcott, of the New York Chapter is a partner in a data processing firm and he has offered his services in setting up a computer program for the Society if such a program would improve the various functions of the Society. The extraordinary generosity of this offer merits very careful consideration. Those who will be directly concerned will explore this possibility and report their conclusions at a later meeting.
New publications are always a matter of keen interest to the membership and the news from that quarter is all good. "Rhododendrons of China", which is being published jointly by the Species Foundation and the Society, will probably be ready for release by late spring. This will be a work of major importance. The translations now being prepared by Judith Young and Dr. Lu-sheng Chong will be reviewed by Mildred Mathias of the Department of Botany of the University of California, Carlton Lees of the New York Botanical Garden, Keith Wade of the University of British Columbia and Fred Meyer at the Herbarium at the National Arboretum.
Although much remains to be done, the "American Hybrids" committee, under the energetic leadership of Meldon Kraxberger, is now hard at work on this vital publication. Work on the western version of "Hybrids & Hybridizers" is still in the formative stages but that too is going forward.
Another publication, suggested by Russell Haag, is under consideration. He felt that a self pronouncing dictionary for Rhododendron species would be useful to the amateur gardener. Frederick W. Coe, our new publications chairman will attempt to define the parameters of this subject for future consideration. Dr. Coe has suggested that the Society also consider a publication dealing with vireya rhododendrons, both species and hybrids.
The membership committee, under Russell Haag, has been accumulating a large amount of data, suggestions and recommendations about our fluctuating membership. In reviewing the past four years, he has found that the bottom ⅓ of our chapters have had an increase of less than 5%, the middle third increased around 8% and the top group increased about 12%, with one chapter showing an increase of over 20%. He hopes to identify some of the reasons for this disparity in order to assist chapters who may need some help.
Mr. Haag asked the Society to fund a promotional proposal that he would like to try, on a very limited scale. He would like to purchase plant tags that could be attached to nursery stock. These tags would be imprinted with the address of the Society and an invitation to become a member. The Board agreed to support this proposal.
Ned Brockenbrough reported that Ralph Sangster of Australia is continuing his efforts to develop an International Rhododendron Society. The immediate goal is to place the formation of such an organization on the agenda of the International Rhododendron Conference to be held in Edinburgh in 1982. Ned was asked to serve on the steering committee which would consider the possibilities of this venture.
Max Resnick, of the Massachusetts chapter, will head up the committee on the planning of annual meetings. It will be the function of this committee to bring together the experience and information from past meetings in such a way as to provide guidance to chapters who will host future meetings.
Once again, the largest part of this board meeting was devoted to the reorganization proposal put forward by Frank West. Under these proposed changes in the by-laws, there will be several small changes that will simply legitimize present practice. However, there are some very important changes that will restructure the governing body of the Society.
Chapters would be grouped into geographic districts, each composed of three or four chapters. The presidents of these chapters would nominate a district director, to be elected by the district, to represent the district on the National Board of Directors. There would be ten districts in this country plus one overseas district represented by Denmark. There would also be a director-at-large who would represent the unaffiliated members. There would be no nationally elected directors and chapter presidents would not have a vote. The district directors would serve for three years rather than two.
Those opposed to this proposal want the district directors appointed by the chapter president rather than simply nominated by them. They believe the present two year term should be retained. They would abolish the offices of the two regional vice-presidents in favor of one president-elect. These changes were agreed upon at the meeting in San Francisco and reaffirmed in Vancouver but were rejected at this meeting.
The next meeting of the Board will be in early March in Portland, Oregon.