Reflections on ASHS Conferences and Membership
By Carl Sams
ASHS members consistently mention the ASHS Annual Conference and publications among the primary benefits of membership. As a new graduate student, the opportunity to report the results of my first research project in the world’s leading and most respected horticultural journals first drew me to join ASHS. My first paper was published before I attended an annual meeting. However, that first meeting as a graduate student convinced me that I had joined a society that would enrich the career to which I aspired. One of the highlights of that conference was the opportunity to meet many of the researchers whose work I had studied in classes and whose papers I had read as part of my first research project. Yet, the most memorable aspects of these first meetings were the relationships that I developed with other graduate students and horticultural scientists from universities, USDA, industry, and other professional organizations who became colleagues, friends, and influential mentors. I have always appreciated the annual meeting as a place to present my data and receive creative constructive criticism and encouragement from the best scientists in my field. However, the meetings quickly became a must-attend event for me because of the opportunity to develop and maintain professional and personal relationships with people who were energetic and creative and with whom I shared a passion for horticultural science and its positive impact on the world.
As noted in my first “Reflections” column, ASHS members ranked the annual conference high among the benefits of membership in the survey conducted by President Curt Rom in 2016. The results of this survey inspired President John Dole to create task forces to develop ideas for adding value to conference attendance and ASHS membership. The board approved three new administrative committees based on recommendations from the task forces. It was my honor as incoming president to appoint the first members of the ASHS Events & Education Planning Committee, the Media Communications Committee, and the Partnership Development & Sponsorship Committee. If you have suggestions for activities, please contact the members of these committees or any of the ASHS board members. Last summer as President–elect I began working on several projects related to adding value to annual conferences and membership that are related to the suggestions of the task forces.
As approved by the ASHS Board at the December meeting, in January 2018, ASHS will partner with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to become an Online Learning Affiliate. As a part of this program, ASHS members will be able to purchase courses from the ASHS Learning Affiliate landing page (the URL will be announced soon) at the same price as AAAS members. This catalogue of courses provides high-quality supplemental STEM professional and career development courses for our membership. The board is proud to announce this new affiliation with AAAS that offers new STEM materials to our members. More details on this program will be announced in January.
Working with Jessica Davis (President of ASA), Ellen Bergfeld (CEO of the Tri-Societies), and Mike Neff (ASHS Executive Director), an agreement is being finalized to allow ASHS members to attend future Tri-Society meetings at the registration price for Tri-Society members (without paying additional non-member registration). This agreement will also allow Tri-Society members to attend future ASHS conferences at ASHS member registration prices. The ASHS and ASA boards have approved the concept in an attempt to foster cooperation among the societies and add membership value to ASHS, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA membership. The ASHS board also approved an agreement between ASHS and Tri-Societies to investigate having concurrent (or consecutive) meetings in the future. As part of this effort, when a concurrent meeting is held, each society will have its own independent meeting and program, but will meet at the same location (either at the same time or at the same location consecutively). At these meetings, if a member of either society registers for their society meeting, they may attend sessions of the other meeting without extra charge. This agreement is intended to foster cooperation in specific areas such as physiology, breeding, biotechnology, etc., across societies and disciplines. The 2021 annual conference is being considered as a possible first concurrent meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As always, your input on these new activities is welcome and encouraged. We would particularly like to hear your opinions on the AAAS STEM modules once we get them added to the ASHS web page. Also, please let us know if you like the idea of concurrent meetings (and what other societies you would like to meet with in the future). You may contact me directly (email@example.com). However, I encourage you to take advantage of ASHS online communications and participate in an open discussion of these programs by connecting to the discussion page for this “Reflections” column. I hope all had a great holiday season, and I wish everyone a happy and productive 2018!