Local Branches Proposed for American Rhododendron Society
J. Harold Clarke, Ph.D.
Because of the responsibility a national plant society has to all of its members, there has been discussion from time to time about the possibility of forming American Rhododendron Society chapters or local branches. Since the Society was first organized, meetings have been held only in Seattle and Portland, with a majority of the meetings in the latter city.
Members in other parts of the country have belonged to the Society, presumably because of their general interest in rhododendrons and because of the publications which they have received. This will necessarily continue to be the only appeal to many widely scattered members. However, there are enough active or potential members in certain limited areas to indicate that a holding of occasional local meetings might be expected to increase interest in Rhododendrons and membership in the Society.
The Board of Directors has been giving considerable thought to the matter and recently asked the writer to prepare suggested modifications of the By-laws which might be used to bring about the formation of branch groups if the membership so wishes. Accordingly, certain suggested changes to the By-laws were drawn up and presented to the Board on March 2, 1951. Before recommending these changes to the membership, the Board felt it would like to have the comments of members from various parts of the country who might be in a position to encourage the formation of local branches, as well as from those who are opposed to such a change. The purpose of this report is to present for discussion a method of organizing local branches.
Article I, as follows, is suggested as an entirely new section of the revised By-laws:
ARTICLE 1-AMERICAN RHODODENDRON SOCIETY BRANCHES
Section A. Local branches are encouraged to organize within the American Rhododendron Society because the Society membership covers a large part of the United States and it is obviously impossible to choose meeting places so that a large portion of the membership can attend. Local branches, by having their own programs and Shows, should arouse more interest in Rhododendrons, further the aims of the Society, and increase the membership.
Section B. The duties of the national organization shall be to issue the bulletin to all members, issue special publications from time to time, hold national Rhododendron Shows, supervise Test Gardens, make Special Awards to new varieties, maintain a variety check list, correlate the activities of the various branches of the Society, and carry on the activities usually associated with a national plant society.
Section C. A group of twelve or more people, members or non-members of the American Rhododendron Society, may become an official American Rhododendron Society branch, by request to the Secretary of the American Rhododendron Society, accompanied by part of the dues of each member, as hereafter designated, except that dues of any member which have been paid in advance shall be adjusted.
Section D. It is suggested that branches designate themselves as The__________ Branch of the American Rhododendron Society. Where an already organized club or society wants to become a branch of the American Rhododendron Society, it may retain its name, if it prefers, and be known officially as "The _________ Garden Club, a Branch of the American Rhododendron Society."
Section E. Branch privileges may be withdrawn by vote if membership falls below eight, or if the branch fails to observe American Rhododendron Society rules and regulations.
Section F. Members of the branch shall elect their own officers, consisting of President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer (or Secretary-Treasurer). All elections shall be promptly reported to the Secretary of the American Rhododendron Society.
Section G. Duties of the branch officers shall be those usually associated with the office.
Section H. The President of each local branch shall be, ex officio, a regional Director of the American Rhododendron Society.
Section I. All members of an American Rhododendron Society branch have full membership in the American Rhododendron Society, and are entitled to all the privileges pertaining thereto.
Section J. Each branch is encouraged to have its own programs and Shows, which may be accredited by the American Rhododendron Society. Upon request, official judges may be provided or certified, to serve in a branch Show in order that American Rhododendron Society Awards may be given if any seedlings should qualify.
Other changes which would be required are outlined briefly to save space. Under the proposed set-up, members might come in as individual members on regular application, as formerly, or as members of a branch.
Dues of branch members would be collected by the branch Secretary, and $3.50 of the $5.00 dues remitted to the national Secretary to pay for the Bulletin and other general expenses of the American Rhododendron Society. $1.50 would be retained by the branch for local use in connection with meetings, notices, local Shows, etc. There would be no objection to plant sales or other means which might be used by local branches to raise money for their own use. Plant auctions have been conducted fairly frequently in Portland, and have helped materially to finance the activities of the Society.
There would be only one regular meeting of the American Rhododendron Society-the annual meeting but special meetings could be called by the Board. There would presumably be an annual Rhododendron Show, probably held in cooperation with the Show of a local branch. Local branches would be expected to have at least four meetings per year.
A Nominating Committee would prepare a slate for the election each year and, in addition, any person nominated by at least five members would automatically go on the ballot as a candidate. Balloting would be by mail.
There would also be provision to amend the By-laws by mail vote.
If formation of branches is authorized, the Portland group would, presumably, organize as a branch the same as any other area.
Other minor changes in the By-laws have been suggested and, of course, the complete By-laws, as proposed, would be published in the Bulletin before being brought to a vote. In the meanwhile, President Sersanous will welcome any suggestions or criticisms. If you want the American Rhododendron Society to provide for local branches, write in and say so. The real problem to be settled is what will be best for the Society and for the greatest number of members.