As I previously stated, the major goal of my administration is membership growth and retention. Having excellent scientific sessions and education programs and free student registration at our annual meetings have certainly slowed membership loss, but have not reversed the trend. Student retention of membership after their initial attendance has been poor. The Board of Directors and the Education Subcommittee have made the development of programs to stimulate students and other young members to continue their membership and become actively involved in the Society their goal. Todd Jones, President-elect, has made student initiatives a major goal of his Long Range Planning committee.
So what has been accomplished to date? One exciting initiative is a mentoring program put together by Randy Santiano and his committee. This unique program has been developed by Randy to facilitate dialogue between the new or younger members of our Society and the more established members. It will provide an internet accessible resource offering a structured and supportive learning environment for career development. The program will be introduced at the Annual Meeting by Randy and Scott Stewart in a session entitled “Student Professional Development – Mentoring”. A second program is being convened by Elizabeth Roemer, the chair of the Education Subcommittee, and Todd Murphy. This program is entitled “The Academic Industry Partnership: Training Students to Fill a Need”.
David Jayme and Wayne Parrott, Chairs of the IVASC and Plant Biotechnology sections respectively, have added to the other member and student awards, a Young Scientists Award. This award may be presented at the Annual meetings to a member showing active participation in the Society as well as scientific excellence in the advancement of in vitro sciences. The awards committee will look at teaching excellence, outreach excellence, research excellence, private sector excellence or public/professional excellence when considering the awardees. In general the award recipient should have made their accomplishments within 7 years of their terminal degree and each section will be allowed only one winner per year. Each section is also considering a graduate student award for the best poster at the upcoming annual meeting. Posters would be judged on scientific merit and presentation.
We now have a Job site link on our web site for student and other members to post resumes for employers to search. John Harbell and his Development Committee continue to do a great job in raising funds for both the annual meeting and for student initiatives. Annie McGill and Carol Stiff have resurrected a list server for the student members, firstname.lastname@example.org and are working hard to enlist our student members to use the site for communication.