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  #41  
Old 04-11-2008, 01:54 AM
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isurus79 isurus79 is offline
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Originally Posted by slipperfreak View Post
In my experience younger growers are pretty rare but we are certainly welcomed in my society.
With all this discussion about the "younger generation," I would like to say that I wholeheartedly agree with slipperfreak by saying that even though I have always been the youngest, I have never felt like a stranger in any of the orchid groups/societies I have joined. Everyone (including OB) has always been VERY accomodating and willing to share their knowledge with this "whippersnapper" over the years. For that I am very grateful and for this reason, maybe the AOS rank and file will pay attention to Blondie's letter. I said that I thought the AOS was "snooty" in an earlier post, but now I remember how friendly EVERY single orchid person I met has been. Maybe I was a bit pessimistic earlier.....
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  #42  
Old 04-11-2008, 06:40 AM
goodgollymissmolly goodgollymissmolly is offline
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Interesting thread. I agree with several responses here, especially Shakkai, Phantasm, CodiMin, and (GASP!!) Susanne. By my standards, I'm certainly not young by my own definition (thanks for the broader definition, Blondie).

Every plant society that I belong to (American Hemerocallis Society, American Hosta Society, American Horticulture Society, and AOS) are saying the same thing. ...."Our society is old, where are young people? They are all losing members (or barely holding level)". These societies need revenue (or at least they think they do) and believe they have raised dues to the maximum acceptable limit. Problem is that they all regularly attract new members but fail to retain them after 1-3 years. All struggle unsuccessfully to consolidate their new member gains.....reminds me of cell phone companies. People's attention spans are pretty short.

It's obvious that current members are 40+ (actually 50+ to be honest) so they look to younger candidates for expansion. The problem is that I don't think younger people ever made up much of the membership because they are busy with other things that appeal to more active folks. That isn't likely to change, except possibly for the worse, because over my working career the workplace and society have changed to require women to work just for family survival (or at least family success). People busy working and raising children, building a life, seldom have time or money for serious gardening activities.

I agree with Susanne that bashing AOS on this thread is not helpful. Dang it Ross, the magazine is a good one and you need to get with the plan. When AOS recently polled members for suggestions, I wrote a book about how the magazine should be more geared to experienced members and more scientific topics. Obviously others thought exactly the opposite so the magazine struggles to please everyone a little bit. Some of recent articles are way too basic in my opinion, but they are trying to cover the base. The current president has brought about many great improvements. Seems like a good management guy to me. I think it's a real shame that the headquarters is so far from most of the country but that's an irreversible problem at this point. The regionalization idea doesn't seem to be progressing rapidly and it seriously needs to do so. Incidentally, there's always a lot of comments on AOS activities, but only 15% of members responded to the survey. I think that tells you that the organization is trying harder than most of its members.

I better quit. More younger members would great, but I don't hold out much optimism for it. Need to serve the members and keep them no matter who they are. I think the organization is moving in the right direction.

Thanks for being here.
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  #43  
Old 04-11-2008, 08:49 AM
shams shams is offline
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I agree about the magazine thing! I think a "sister magazine" geared towards the 30- 40's range would be ideal for people starting off, and could change the common perception of an "stereotypical orchid grower", and let others try orchids for themselves. When people get really involved in orchid growing, the 'regular' magizine would then cater to them as well.

Great thread by the way
I have no idea what the Orchid magazine is like... but if the AOS want to make another magazine, and need a scientific illustrator... I am here!

Sorry... plugging my career... but really... I do love to draw orchids, so any excuse would be great

I still haven't been to any Society meetings, but I think I plan to in the future. I'm 27 and from the people I've talked to, I guess I'm really young to have gotten such an interest in orchids. That being said, everyone I've spoken to have been really supportive of it (I think I only talk to enablers ) and at the shows I've been to there were quite the diversity of age groups looking, asking and answering questions.

Maybe it's not that the younger people don't have an interest, but more that they are intimidated? Sometimes it's hard to get into a conversation with the older crowds. And orchids do tend to have the stigma that they are difficult plants to grow. Just my
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  #44  
Old 04-11-2008, 09:18 AM
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cb977 cb977 is offline
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I agree with several responses here, especially Shakkai, Phantasm, CodiMin, and (GASP!!) Susanne.
Jim! My first chuckle of the day!!!
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  #45  
Old 04-11-2008, 11:18 AM
Orchidflowerchild Orchidflowerchild is offline
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Letter to AOS Female
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Originally Posted by isurus79 View Post
Blondie,
2- There is a stigma attached (especially to young guys) that growing orchids is kinda.....well.... for a lack of a better term....gay (not that there's anything wrong with being gay, but its an unattractive label for young, heterosexual guys). Its for this second reason that guys like myself did not start telling people about their growing habits until much later in life!!
Ya gotta establish your heterosexuality, then tell the *chicks.* Trust me, the first time I found a cute guy who was into orchids...well...too bad our relationship wasn't that *kind* of relationship, because...well, find the right girl...there are dividends.

-Cj
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  #46  
Old 04-11-2008, 11:59 AM
Orchidflowerchild Orchidflowerchild is offline
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I joined my local society and AOS when I was fifteen. When I lost the collection, I dropped out of things, for a few years. Right now, I'm too broke to renew, but I plan to. I think the key to being a young member of an older society is to just jump right in and get involved. People are skeptical of outsiders, anyway, and older people distrust young punks, anyway. I think the key is to get involved and ask questions and let people know that you are interested in being a member, not just coming in for a few months and then leaving. I know that orchid societies can be intimidating, but if you volunteer for things and show that you are interested in learning and helping, the members will get to know an appreciate your enthusiasm.

As for AOS itself, I do like the idea of showing some younger faces in the magazine. Maybe they could profile younger hobbyists, or younger growers/breeders... Yeah, AOS feels and sounds stuffy, but once you get to know even some of those "famous" folks, they are all just orchid growers, too. I had a fantastic time getting drunk on good beer and full of oysters on the halfshell with Andy Easton and Allan Koch, at the AOS trustees meeting in Corpus Christi in '01. The thing is, people forget that these orchid personalities are also just people. I think the AOS could also profile the social aspect of it's events. It's all well and good to show awars and trophies and people holding big checks, but how about people standing around with cocktails at the preview parties? You'll also have a better opportunity to illustrate the cross-section of people that attend a show or event. I also like the idea of singles events, but that's just because I'm always on the lookout for a hottie with adonis lines and a thing for Bulbophyllums. LOL!

I kinda feel bad for being so uninvolved in societies, lately, but I'm just broke.... Hell, the gas money just to get to Houston, oy vey! I'd have to pay as much for gas as the yearly membership, just to get there every month.

-Cj
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  #47  
Old 04-11-2008, 12:12 PM
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calvin_orchidL calvin_orchidL is offline
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Originally Posted by Orchidflowerchild View Post
Ya gotta establish your heterosexuality, then tell the *chicks.* Trust me, the first time I found a cute guy who was into orchids...well...too bad our relationship wasn't that *kind* of relationship, because...well, find the right girl...there are dividends.

-Cj
Too true - Can't think of too many male members of our society under 30 that play on your team...sorry!

This is a fascinating discussion, to be sure. To be honest, from a young persons' point of view (I'm 22) I look at most of my friends and I can never truly see them growing orchids - I think it requires a certain degree of commitment and seriousness to fully devote yourself to this hobby at this stage in life. While it may be easier when you have a home, a stable life style and a steady income to raise a few phals and be the 'casual' orchid hobbyist, young people are busy tearing around and building their lives; as a result, it's kind of an all-or-nothing kind of deal. Either you love them and seriously grow them, or you don't. And I'm not too sure whether changing or revamping the AOS will stimulate that. If we're talking about AOS involvement, that will come with time, as young orchid growers get grow a bit older and get involved. If we're talking about orchid growing as a hobby - I don't think that's something that can be induced by changing a magazine...it takes that first bite of the bug (you all know what I mean) and that happens on a personal level in many shapes and forms.

Personally I don't know the situation about the AOS (are they really declining in numbers?) but the biggest hindrance is money. I see it as a luxury for older established people who have 10, 20 years of growing behind them. As someone said earlier - I'd rather spend the money on another plant. I haven't really been exposed to the AOS so I don't really know about this snobby attitude that people are referring to...but hey, I totally agree with CJ - even if it feels a little foreboding, all it takes is to jump right in.

I was a part of our local society for a few years without meeting a single person....then suddenly I had a bit more time on my hands, and participated at a few volunteer events, helped with judging...and suddenly, I know people's names, and have started talking regularly to other members!

Last edited by calvin_orchidL; 04-11-2008 at 12:24 PM..
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  #48  
Old 04-11-2008, 12:45 PM
Rhonda_in_FL Rhonda_in_FL is offline
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Letter to AOS Female
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This is a marvelous discussion--and I had to read the whole thing today just to get caught up.

Frankly, AOS not only has been listening, I can say firsthand that diligent efforts are being made. At 42, I'm still one of the youngest members of my society by 10 or so years. I've been growing orchids since my early 20's and can say that I know the feeling of the generation gap.

Anyway, I also am a student judge (2nd year, Woot!) and am a member of the AOS Educational committee. My current job with the committee is to develop an educational curriculum for teachers to download from the site. We're starting with a teacher's guide and are working to have the headquarters in Delray become a field trip destination for Palm Beach County. Our public school system has a horticulture magnet program in the high schools, so we aim to tap into that level of interest as well as middle and late elementary school.

For those that haven't been involved in AOS for a while, I say it's a whole new ball game. I've been around for long enough to see both sides of the AOS politics. I thought the upper level required a secret handshake and lots of . My experience since Carlos took the helm has been vastly different. I'd say that started back in Art's presidency, but Carlos has made phenomnal gains in bringing a transparent board a reality. Members from every level of participation have the ability to connect with information that was a mystery years back.

As for the magazine becoming the 'end-all' for everyone, the challenge is on many levels. They are constantly looking for people to WRITE the articles. There are many knowledgeable people on this board and others--anyone can write an article. Maybe it's incumbent on those that want to see other topics to request them from experts for submission to the mag. Let's face it, some of our pros here on the OB could zap out an article. There are guidelines on the website, it's fairly writer-friendly.

I'd also like to invite those who haven't been there recently to check out the new website--it is fabulous. Much more organized and user friendly than in the past. It has been reworked from every aspect, including it's look. I think much younger in feel, but what do I know I'm 'old?'

All I'm saying is that now is the time the AOS is becoming the AOS of the future--it's a process for the old girl, she just turned 87 last week. If you really want to see how far we've come, you should check out some of the old AOS Bulletins from the '40's and '50's. They are a HOOT. I love reading them. I helped put in the AOS Archives display at WOC and learned how rich our history really is--we have some breathtaking historical treasures.

It's going to take some time, but never before in the history of the organization has the leadership been so motivated to focus on the future. Get involved on a personal basis instead of looking from the outside in. There is a student membership that is less expensive. Also, joining your local society is cheaper and the magazines are available to you there.

With all this talk of living 'green,' it will be the younger generations that become involved in habitat conservation, what about the orchid habitats that are disappearing every hour of every day? As in March's article, Carlos is looking to membership to lead the cause.

Get involved! Nobody is going to tell you otherwise!
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  #49  
Old 04-11-2008, 12:47 PM
Rhonda_in_FL Rhonda_in_FL is offline
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Incidentally, HI CJ!
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  #50  
Old 04-11-2008, 01:03 PM
goodgollymissmolly goodgollymissmolly is offline
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Calvin, I agree with most of what you say. Cj knows more about orchids than most, maybe all, folks three times her age. You might also, probably do. Age is not the issue, commitment to the hobby and a desire to be good at it is the point. You and Cj will last a long time because you are already sorted out by virtue of the fact that you are doing something uncommon for your age group.

I'm afraid that in the older group you find people just trying get involved in something, but not consumed by it. If it's hard they quit. So they join AOS for a year or two, kill three Lowes plants and disappear. I'm afraid all the hobby societies are doomed to a small group of enthusiasts and a large group passing through. It's just the nature of people. They aren't committed to doing whatever they do better than anyone else ever has.
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