JARS v45n4 - From the President

From the President
Dues, Membership and 'Diny Dee'
Gordon Wylie
Eugene, Oregon

Botanically, "perennial" is applied to plants with a life cycle of more than two years. As we also know, the word is otherwise commonly employed to describe matters enduring for an indefinite time. In the latter sense, for example, it most aptly describes the first two subjects of my title as they apply to the American Rhododendron Society. Those topics do indeed enjoy / suffer seemingly eternal discussion, particularly on a national level.
Based upon changes approved by the Board at its spring meeting in Oakland, the ARS dues statement you receive this fall has a new look with a number of choices available. One option is to renew your membership for up to three years in advance instead of for one year. A modest discount is available to those making the two or three year selection. Life membership, as before, can also be elected.
You will also note a sliding scale of dues for various categories of membership. Here we have added a "Family" category (two persons at the same address) which will entitle the holders to two votes in Society elections and business meetings. Sustaining and sponsoring memberships are available for those desiring to make an additional contribution. The generosity of those making one of the latter choices will be greatly appreciated.
The revisions, to be candid, are an effort to generate more income without increasing the basic dues of $25 per year. More revenue is needed because, despite very conservative fiscal strategies, costs continue creeping ahead of income.
Why should membership be a concern when each issue of the Journal lists many new members? Because, overall, our Society is not experiencing significant growth. In short, we do not do well with renewals.
Some attrition is of course unavoidable, but I believe, we can improve our efforts in this area. That improvement can really only come from endeavors at the Chapter level. The various ways of handling this are beyond the scope of this article, but in the end they all come down to making personal contact with every member who has not renewed by around the 1st of November. Quite often these are new members you do not know well, or even at all; one reward will be new friendships surely resulting from the extra effort of your contacts.
Organizations, just as is true with the ARS, often begin from a few friends gathering to share a common interest. Occasionally those few are nurtured by interests of such wide appeal as to grow much larger in numbers. This is exactly what has happened with our Society since its beginning nearly 50 years ago. Let's all work on continuing to advance!
Did you labor through the above to find how 'Diny Dee' relates to the other subjects? Well, it's one of the newer hybrids in my garden acquired a few years ago, but which I haven't yet bloomed. It has frozen back in each of the two severe winters we experienced out of the last three, but nevertheless persists in re-growing.
The ARS will also endure, and will grow beyond its present numbers of some 6,000. I can't say it any better than Doug Denkers of the North Kitsap Chapter when he noted in correspondence to the Seed Exchange "Rhododendrons are choice and so are the people they attract."