March/April 2003 Magazine
Many bird clubs are folding because of politics or infighting or strong-arming by eqotistical members. The quieter members are made to feel inferior, or are recruited by the stronger to support their ideas. Some clubs don't last a year. Others after many years and under many principal leaders finally wear out. But now there is a new danger.
Super colorful magazines and the computer network are full of information about birds. Some wonderful folks on the net have given of themselves and their experiences for all to reap or download. Some newsletters do download and share what fills space, and yes, what they think is needed for their members.
BUT they can't replace:
- the sharing of experiences of your like species with people you get to know and trust nearby.
- the data on birds, equipment, and foods users have experienced, not necessarily birders who are also promoting products, a reason to have a website.
- sympathetic help in times of crisis, loss of birds, and quicky answers for bird care.
- the fellowship of like-minded neighbors with birds, maybe someone to watch your birds when you must go to the hospital or on a trip.
- the contacts for emergency information or unwanted regulations for bird ownership.
a local visible group that has the testimony or proper care of pet birds, weather problems and other knowledge. Together there is power, and general acceptance by the public.
- having a breeder you know well raising the birds you might want or need.
- hearing speakers to educate, inspire and share your interests, that we are not alone.
Too many bird owners have sacrificed the benefits of being a part of a club because:
- they don't like the forwardness or crankiness of a person or persons in the club. It's too bad our country won't allow more clones of us who are right, nice, and smarter than others.
- they can't take the time to attend meetings, or it's at the wrong hour, or why don't they meet in a place in OUR neighborhood.
- clubs ask for too much, too much worktime in the bird mart, or to take care of the library, and nay-nay, serve as an officer. Benefits often come with responsibilites. I shouldn't be tyring to help others. That's what others are for
- they tried to do a job, but nobody helped, and ideas to do it were different than the leadersm and they felt insulted and quit. They really wanted to do such and such but that person wouldn't yield. So let them have THEIR club.
What officers can do to make the club more attractive. Not always simple:
- Lead. Others have ideas. Listen. Remember, others may criticize you, but it goes with the job. If you are wrong, admit it. Apologize, and have the board or officers correct it. Remember, the leader takes the blame whether it is his error or not. You or the officers allowed it in the first place. If it is a crime against the club, let all the officers pursue it, not you alone.
- If yu are a coordinator of the leaders in your club, members will keep you, and you will have stallwart workers in their areas of leadership.
- Recognize such working leaders that make the club go annually at the Holiday lunchoen or the club's birthday observance.
- If the club is doing well, don't give someone else a chance to step in. Run for reelection. He/she will help. If not, you were right in dtaying on.
- The low number of people who you can depend on is not their fault: you haven't developed them. If you work, they work. But if they don't, you must - happily.
- Spread the word that there are often other ways to look at the same subject.
Winged Wisdom Note: Dick Ivy is co-organizer and chairman for 18 years of the Peninsula Caged Bird Society in S.E. Virginia (more than 300 members). He is the organizer and present administrive coordinator of Bird Clubs of Virginia as well as spawning BCA in June 1992.
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Last update: July 1, 2003