From the President
H. C. "Bud" Gehnrich
Huntington, New York
This is my last column as president of the ARS. The next voice you hear will be that of our present Western VP Lynn Watts.
I have enjoyed my two years in office. I got to know many people I had not known before, and got to know many that I had known slightly, much better. Virtually everyone I worked with was cooperative, helpful and concerned for the good of the ARS.
What impressed me most about our members was their willingness to say "yes" whenever I asked someone to take on a responsibility. Once they knew why the job had to be done and how important it was, they were quick to take it and do it.
The end of a term is, as the saying goes, the time to point with pride and view with alarm. I think that the structure of the organization and the workings of the officers, committees and employees are very good. I'll not single out individuals, suffice to say good work is being done and we can all be proud of the organization to which we belong.
Most of our chapters are active and carry out a full schedule of programs to keep their members involved. There are a few that are struggling, but I doubt if there ever was a time when that was not true. Neighboring chapters can be helpful, and the district directors must also be available when called on.
Am I suggesting there are no improvements to be made or challenges to be met? Of course not. While the decline in membership has finally been reversed and a small increase noted, much remains to be done. New members to bring new enthusiasm and ideas are always needed and the dues they pay help to spread out the fixed costs of operating our Society. They also strengthen our chapters.
We must do a better job of telling the public about rhododendrons. If people buy them and then see them die after a short time, either because they are not hardy enough for their area or because they were not properly planted or not properly cared for, they will not come to enjoy rhododendrons and will find other plants to grow. Success with rhododendrons will also bring more members to our Society.
Finally, I wish Lynn and his team the very best in the next two years. They are a strong and dedicated group and I ask all of you to give them the same help and cooperation you have demonstrated over the years that I have been with the organization.