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The President's Environment

The President's Environment is published 3x/year. Past Issues of the President's Environment can be found in the archives of The Bulletin.

Our Strategic Plans!!!

By President Randy Fuller and Past-President Dave Penrose

July 2013

Fuller and Penrose

We had 787 members attend the annual meeting (including 118 from 12 countries and 306 were students) in what was a wonderful venue in Jacksonville, and we want to thank all those whose efforts resulted in a very successful annual meeting. As I begin my term as President and Dave ends his, we felt it was important to write a collaborative letter about what SFS has accomplished over the last 5 years. In 2009, the membership voted to approve a 5 year strategic plan that described four major goals and multiple initiatives that could be implemented by various SFS committees to achieve those goals. The Executive Committee and Board of Directors have awarded funds to different SFS committees to allow them to address specific initiatives. We would like to highlight the progress the Society has made toward reaching our goals and ask for your input on the next strategic plan, which is being developed this year.

The first goal was to make SFS (then NABS) a major source of information on freshwater resource issues. There were multiple initiatives, but one of the first to be addressed was our Society name and Journal title, both of which have changed. Since the name and title change, the web page has received a dramatic increase in hits, journal submissions have also increased (especially from international authors), and the scope of the submissions has broadened. We have formed the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies (CASS) with 3 other professional organizations (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation, and Society of Wetland Scientists), and CASS has held congressional briefings in 2012 and 2013 on pending legislation related to freshwater resources. Next spring, we are collaborating with ASLO and SWS by sponsoring a booth that highlights the importance of freshwater resources during the Science and Math Festival in Washington, DC that attracts over 200,000 people. Another initiative was to promote joint meetings with other societies, which we did with ALSO in 2010 and will have a joint meeting with 4 societies (ASLO, SWS and the Phycological Society of America) in Portland next year. We also are hoping to create collaborations with other international freshwater science societies.

The second goal was to increase our interactions with primary and secondary school educators to increase the quality of aquatic science education. Members have submitted laboratory exercises that have been posted on our website, and we have links to other websites that have teaching resources for ecology labs. The Education and Diversity Committee has held both teaching and outreach workshops at our annual meetings and there are plans to coordinate with the Stroud Water Research Group to do a leaf pack workshop for primary and secondary educators in Portland next May, similar to what was done by the Stroud Group this year in Jacksonville.

The third goal was to increase the membership, including the number of international members and members of under-represented groups. We have added the “Early Career” membership category and are discussing how we might make membership more attractive to potential members from developing countries. In addition, with funding from SFS, the Education and Diversity Committee has established the INSTARS program that brings 10-15 undergraduate students from under-represented groups to our annual meetings. In Jacksonville, we had 2 graduate student mentors to this program who had previously been INSTARS, and we hope to build on this success in the future. Finally, the establishment of regional and international chapters (the latter in southeast Asia and Latin America) will hopefully attract more members to SFS. However, despite these initiatives, our membership numbers have been declining. We are hoping that with the increase in both international submissions, and the broader scope of articles being submitted to our journal, we will recruit some new members to SFS, but we will need to do more to attract new members as well as increase the retention of current members.

The fourth goal was to increase the number of individuals with taxonomic certification. The Taxonomic Certification Committee (TCC) has developed an online test to the family level using an electronic image database and with funding from SFS is developing a similar image database for freshwater mussels, Chironomidae and for EPT. They report that they now certify over 200 individuals annually for at least one of the exams they administer. This is a program established by SFS, and having certified taxonomists is being recognized by various state and federal agencies as an important factor when contractors are analyzing samples related to water quality monitoring or environmental impact assessments. There are also plans to begin offering courses in macroinvertebrate taxonomy associated with our annual meeting, which will be co-sponsored by the TCC and the Technical Information Committee.

In addition to these accomplishments related to the 2009 Strategic Plan, we have undergone a re-structuring of the Society, completely revised our Constitution and Bylaws to be more compliant with our not-for-profit 501.C3 status, and we just recently signed a publishing agreement with the University of Chicago Press that strengthens our journal and provides greater financial stability. When the Society produced its Strategic Plan in 2009, the Journal produced a similar planning document. In 2013, we can look back and recognize that these two documents provided a working road map for us to follow, and we should be proud of the accomplishments over the last 4 years. With this in mind, it is now time to develop the next 5 Year SFS Strategic Plan for the membership to vote on in Portland. The Long Range Planning Committee will be developing the next strategic plan and they would be happy to hear from you with any ideas you might have for new goals or initiatives that SFS should be addressing in the coming years. We ask that you read the 2009 Plan on the website (https://www.freshwater-science.org/Members-Only/Society-Business/NABS-5y-Strategic-Plan.aspx - this requires you to login to the members only section), and please bring to our attention any ideas you would like SFS to address. This is an important document that the Board will use to direct efforts to improve and advance SFS over the next 5 years. Our strategic plan is a road map to where we want to be in the future, and to quote Yogi Berra, “If we do not know where we are going, we might not get there”….. Please give some thought to where you would like to see SFS in 2019, and let us know of any initiatives you believe SFS should pursue in the coming years.

Thank you!

Randy Fuller, President and Dave Penrose, Past-President
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