From the President
During a recent conversation, Eastern Vice President Frank West suggested that many ARS members were interested in the organizational structure of their Society, and that I might well use this column to sketch that structure for their benefit.
In one respect, the organization of our Society is analogous to the government of the nation, with the basic policy-making authority vested in a body elected by the members. In the ARS that body is the Board of Directors, which consists of the officers (President, Regional Vice Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer), the immediate past President of the Society, the District Directors, and the Director at Large. The officers are elected for a two-year term by the entire Board.
Chapters are local units of the Society, and the chapters in geographical areas are grouped into districts; currently there are 12 such districts in North America. Every three years, the members in a district elect a District Director to represent them and their chapters on the national Board. The chapter presidents in each district serve as a nominating committee, selecting candidates for District Director and District Director Alternate. If there is only one candidate for each position, the candidates are declared elected; if there is more than one candidate, ballots are sent to all the members within the district which is holding the election. Non-chapter members and our overseas chapters (Scotland, Denmark, Holland and Sikkim) are represented on the Board by a Director at Large, who is elected by the Board for a three-year term.
As I pointed out in my last column, your Director is your voice in the affairs of the Society; by making your views known to him or her you can help influence the direction of the Society. The current Directors are listed on the inside front cover of the Journal.
Our staff positions at this point in time are two in number: the Executive Director and the Editor. Both positions report to the Board of Directors. The Executive Director's responsibilities include administration of the day-to-day business of the Society, such as correspondence, membership, collection of dues, financial transactions and records, sales of books and publications, and other duties assigned by the Board. Production of the quarterly Journal, including managing of advertising, is the principal responsibility of the Editor.
Administration of the many services and programs of the ARS is entrusted to various standing committees of the Society; committee chairs in most cases are appointed by the President and report to the Board. Current committees and their responsibilities are:
Azalea Committee: promotion of azaleas as important members of our favorite genus, including encouraging the writing of articles and books on azalea culture, exploration, propagation, hybridizing and landscape use.
Budget and Finance Committee: annually prepares and recommends a budget for adoption by the Board of Directors.
Bylaws and Policies: proposes or recommends to the Board changes in the Society's Bylaws and Policies.
Editorial Committee: assists the Editor by providing recommendations regarding Journal content and advertising, and by encouraging the writing of articles for publication.
Endowment Fund Committee: solicits donations, memorial gifts and bequests to the Endowment Fund, the income from which is used to support the Society's activities.
Honors Committee: recommends to the Board the awarding of Gold Medals or other honors to qualified persons.
International Rhododendron Union Liaison: serves as liaison between the ARS and IRU.
Long Range Planning Committee: recommends to the Board changes in Society activities, to improve the services of the Society to its members, and to achieve more readily the objectives of the Society.
Long Term Investment Committee: recommends appropriate investment of long term funds of the Society.
Nominating Committee: nominates candidates for the officers of the Society.
Pioneer Achievement Award Committee: selects recipients of this prestigious award from candidates recommended by any person in any country.
Plant Awards: improves the quality of rhododendrons available to the public by discovering and publicizing superior plants which are not yet well known.
Pollen Bank: receives pollen from contributors, and distributes it to interested members.
Public Relations Committee: has the triple function of developing plans for increasing membership, of gaining national visibility for the ARS, and of stimulating public interest in rhododendrons.
Ratings Committee: with its geographical subgroups, rates all rhododendrons and azaleas, and publishes those ratings in ARS publications.
Registrar of Plant Names: is the North American agent for the Royal Horticultural Society, in its role as International Registration Authority for the genus Rhododendron; publishes registered names and descriptions in the Journal.
Research Committee: encourages scientific research in the rhododendron field; recommends and prioritizes research projects for funding by the ARS Research Foundation (a separate entity).
Seed Exchange Committee: receives seed from contributors and distributes it to interested members.
Shows and Judging Committee: develops suggestions for staging of chapter shows and standards for judging rhododendrons.
Slide Library Committee: maintains programs for loan to chapters, garden clubs and civic groups.
Speakers Bureau: compiles and maintains a list of speakers and topics they can present for chapter, regional and national programs.
Test and Display Garden Committee: encourages the establishment of test and display gardens by chapters, and approves agreements for establishing such gardens.
These committees are all headed by able and dedicated people - your friends and fellow members, who give freely of their time and talents to further your interests and the purposes of the Society. If you would like to help with any of these committees, don't hesitate to contact the committee chair, your District Director, or myself.
Obviously, a single page like this can only cover the broad outlines of how the ARS is organized. The Policies of the Board, a 35-page document, defines that organization and the responsibilities of the officers, directors and committees in much greater detail.
Finally: this is your society; it will be what you want it to be, but only if you make your opinions known, through your Chapter officers, your District Director, and, most importantly, through the forthcoming membership survey, which I announced in my last column.