JARS v54n3 - From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director
Dee Daneri
Fortuna, California

Operation Outreach, Year 2000, a success story!

They were popping up all over the place. The first call came from Illinois reporting a garden center full of them. Another caller from California said he'd found one in the botanical garden plant center. Like beneficial insects, they were spreading to home gardens all over the world.

Then Mr. And Mrs. Public headed to the garden with their newly purchased rhododendrons and azaleas. They suddenly had questions. Gotcha! It was our small but mighty little hang tag to the rescue. Calls literally swamped Rhody Central, and the spider web (ask me about becoming a spider) shifted into action. Our public education program was finally within reach of thousands of people seeking information. Callers were sent care guides and membership information. Many were so impressed with our program that they wanted to join.

These powerful little hang tags, care guides, and membership brochures cost over $25,000 to produce. The materials were provided by generous grants from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust and Jack and Ann Root.

But the program never would have worked if it hadn't been for the priceless efforts of volunteers like you. Members of the Public Education Committee, Wayne Mezitt and Ed Reiley, worked with our journal editor, Sonja Nelson, in the preparation of the new care guide, complete with Proven Performers lists for your area. Our new publicity chairman, Jerry Reynolds, turned our ailing membership brochure into a colorful delight, and OARS worked with the Membership Committee to produce the hang tag. Half of the Eureka Chapter committed a full three days to packaging the material and distributing it to chapters in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.

With hundreds of hours of volunteer work behind us, the job was just beginning. Chapters and growers everywhere began hanging the tags on plants for sale across the nations. Ambitious chapters delivered care guides and membership information to local garden centers. The results have paid off in increased membership and greater public awareness of what we do, but not without a resounding reminder of the power of teamwork.

Volunteerism is what made our public outreach program a success. Don't be afraid to jump in and get involved when your chapter has a task to do. Remember: volunteers never make mistakes . If things don't come out just perfect, remember too, that attempting to do a job as a volunteer is a bit like horseshoes - close counts! We hope to have the opportunity to repeat the public outreach project next year. Get involved! How would you like to see us further our mission?

ARS chapters were recognized for their 
success in attracting new members.
Several chapters were recognized at the ARS Annual Convention in Burlington,
Massachusetts, for their success in attracting new members. They are pictured here,
along with the Membership Committee chairman Mike Stewart, President Lynn Watts,
and Executive Director Dee Daneri.

On a hot summer day, with your garden in perfect order, why not try out one of those garden benches you bought three years ago and reflect on the past and the future. Imagine a vacation package offering five days of visits to private rhododendron gardens, historic tours picking you up at your hotel doorstep, a boat cruise, special programs on your favorite subject, and all the trappings of beautiful Boston - yours for the plucking. The Massachusetts Chapter gave us this great opportunity in May, and all who attended are very grateful to have been invited.

Now its time to take a complete turn and head for the land of totem poles and majestic scenery of Vancouver Island, as the Cowichan Chapter prepares to welcome us all to the Western Regional Conference at Duncan. Don't miss another opportunity to add American Rhododendron Society Conferences to your list of special priorities. Sign up today - it's September 14th in Canada!

Office of the American Rhododendron Society: OARS Rowing for You

by Chase Dooley