JARS v51n4 - From the President

From the President
H.C. "Bud" Gehnrich
Huntington, New York

During the summer I visited chapter and district picnics talking with old friends and making new ones. These picnics are an excellent way to maintain chapter activities through the summer months when most chapters do not have regular meetings.
Some include a cutting exchange in the activities, and District 8 had a plant auction with the plants donated by members. Almost $1,000 was realized, all to be donated to the Endowment Fund. Very nice activity!
Being at these picnics reminded me of how important the chapters and their programs are to the ARS. The chapters provide our members with their closest ties to members and to the plants. They provide most of the effort of obtaining new members, and through their programs do most of the teaching about propagating and growing the plants as well as the history and technical aspects of rhododendron lore.
Because of the closeness of the local groups, it seems at times that the contribution of the Society is lost, and because it is removed from the immediacy of the members, the work that it does is not recognized by them. The contributions of the Society are, however, substantial, not only to the individual members, but to the plant world as a whole.
Of course the Journal is the most important contribution that we see, and it certainly is a fine publication. Those who work on the Journal and those who contribute articles provide a great service to our members.
The seed and pollen exchanges provide a service to a smaller group of members, but advancement of the genus through the distribution of rare species seed and of hybrids that are made by some of the finest hybridizers certainly improve the quality of the plants that are available to all. Likewise pollen that would not otherwise be available to hybridizers becomes accessible. Again, those who work on and those who donate to both of these programs help all of us in our quest for better plants.
The Registrar puts in a 40-hour work week seeking out information about plants that are available in the trade or are mentioned in publications and trying to get them properly registered. Without her dedicated efforts this whole area of the rhododendron world would be chaotic.
I could go on and on naming all the committees and the work they do, the officers and their contributions and the directors and their efforts, but I'm sure that you have the idea now. Perhaps in some future column I will describe some of these programs that are important to all members.
The one final thing about it is that virtually all of the work is done by volunteers who receive no pay for their efforts and in many cases take practically nothing for their expenses. It all gets done with only two paid workers, the Executive Director and the Editor of the Journal.
You really don't see all of this until you get involved with the workings of the Society. Once you do, you understand how the whole thing works with very little cost to the members. We can always use more dedicated people to give a hand and keep the Society going its successful way. Why not speak to a committee chairman, director or officer and see what you can do?