From the President
Herbert A. Spady
There are two types of chapter membership that I would like to briefly discuss. The first is associate membership.
There are usually two kinds of associate members. One group consists of members of near-by chapters. They are people who have a high level of interest in the activities of the ARS, the district and the chapters. They are willing to spend extra money to be members of two or more chapters. Often they attend the meetings and participate in the activities of two or more chapters. These are people who are or have been leaders of adjacent chapters. Sometimes they are the very people that have formed the chapters. They are key people.
The second kind of associate member is one who sees some benefit in belonging to your chapter. Your chapter may put out an excellent publication, have a seed exchange, be a source of plant material or offer other services advantageous to them. How are they a benefit to your chapter and the ARS? They are one of the glues that bind us together on a national and international level. They are important avenues of communication within our organization.
How does your chapter view and treat associate members? Do your bylaws, policies or behavior restrict them? If so, you might ask, "Is that justified?" At the chapter level it makes no difference as far as the financial contribution is concerned. Chapters that have restrictions might rethink the rights and responsibilities of associate members. They are a resource that can be used to the advantage of the chapter and the ARS. They deserve respect. They are not second-class citizens.
The second type of membership I would like to consider is that far-off foreign member who has requested membership in your chapter or has been assigned to your chapter. I have heard complaints about this membership. They have usually been assigned to larger chapters that have significant newsletters and have a similar climate. These members are an extra expense to the chapters because of the costs of mailing overseas.
How should the chapters view this type of membership? Look upon it as a great resource and privilege. These are the people who spend extra dollars to send bank drafts to the U.S. and frequently do so at unfavorable exchange rates. They are the ones who will often welcome you with great hospitality when traveling in their country. Often they provide a source of unusual and new plant materials. In addition to the non-U.S. chapters these are the people who make ours an international organization, a world wide rhododendron community. They are the ones who at some time in the future may be forming their own local chapters. Bite the financial bullet and vigorously support these members.