From The Executive Director
Happy New Year! As we move into year three of the new millennium, the American Rhododendron Society continues to grow and educate the planet about the genus. While some of us are admiring the early rhododendrons in our gardens, our 23 committees are hard at work.
Remember those Proven Performer lists your chapter created last year? Many chapters are now updating these lists. They are of critical importance, as these are now being used at our web site for public reference. Anyone with access to the Internet or Journal ARS can refer to the lists you created and start a rhododendron garden that will be successful in your climate. When Laura Kentala sent out the original requests for your list, many of you didn't realize that we were seriously going to print them. At least once a year you should plan to revisit your list, which represents your chapter's decisions.
Our Azalea Committee, chaired by Fred Minch, with committee members Jean Minch and Don Voss, is busy compiling essential information about the azaleas you chose to be the best for your area. This information will soon appear at our web site, rhododendron.org. Thousands of home gardeners visit our web site each month and have praised you highly for this gift. Our volunteer webmaster, Bob Weissman, receives committee information and organizes it into the growing database of rhododendrons and azaleas. Bob, with assistant Don Smart, tackles the many technical issues of providing us with an administrative web site and a public web site.
Our R&A News editor Betty Spady has passed away after a lifetime of dedication to the Society. Betty had chaired many of our committees, and R&A News was the creation of Betty and husband Herb. Alternate District 11 Director from the Midwest, Marty Anderson, had corresponded with Betty and will soon give us a new focus for R&A News, while much of the information previously found at the R&A News web site will now be found at rhododendron.org.
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Ted Stecki has been busy talking to chapter officers about our proposed dues increase. Explaining why we have this need and providing information about our financial position assists your president with the necessary information to pass along to members at chapter meetings.
Endowment Committee Chairman Bill Mangels and his committee have had a major challenge, and guidelines for applying for grants from our Endowment Fund have been created and are now in place for chapters and committees to seek funding for projects appropriate to our mission. Jeff Cheyne, committee member, is available for professional advice and questions you may have about a future gift to the Society.
Our Resource Development Committee, chaired by Jack Root, has taken on more new challenges for us. Jack and his committee have successfully completed a campaign to create a start-up fund for chapters and districts sponsoring future conferences. With the expertise of a professional Strategic Planner, the RDC will offer a special workshop at the Olympia convention in May, for the purpose of teaching chapter officers how to develop resources within your community for those special public garden projects and other public education endeavors.
In symphony with the RDC, our Test and Display Gardens Chairman Tom Schuetz has created special guidelines for the creation of public gardens and recognition of these gardens by the Society. Another big job currently underway is the work of the Tri- Committee, consisting of Long Range Planning (Bud Gehnrich, chair), Electronic Media (Dick Gustafson, chair), and Editorial Committee (Sandra McDonald, chair). Development of future Internet offerings of our publications is the main impetus of this colossal undertaking.
This is but a small sample of the work going on to benefit not only the Society but our communities throughout the world. As a member of the Society, you have expressed your support of the wonderful accomplishments of our volunteers, both within your home chapter and within the committees which represent all of our chapters.
We all have different reasons for attending Society conferences and conventions. Most of us will enjoy the special garden tours and lectures provided by world-renowned experts in the genus Rhododendron . While we're having fun, a greater task is taking place in the back room of our conferences. Our committees will convene to discuss projects and future needs of the Society, often working together to bring about critical needs of the organization. If you have special skills you would like to offer, or have no skills but want to help, please contact any committee chair and ask what you can do. Our chairmen are all listed in the summer issue of Journal and at our administrative web site, arsoffice.org. Outside our hometown chapters, there's a great Society at work for everyone.
Office of the American Rhododendron Society
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