Candice Engler 2016-05-03 02:04:30
Connecting Counts! Student participation in Annual International Meetings has been at record highs recently. But here’s the rub: retention of student members to full professional membership has remained stagnant. Why is that? We know that retention and involvement increase when members make connections with others in the Society and develop a professional network. This suggests a question: How can each of us reach out to and engage with our student members? Unique opportunities for connecting are available for you at AIM! I had the privilege of participating on a committee focused on how the Society and the Meetings Department can facilitate member connections and improve student engagement. The P-120 Student Competitions Committee, the IPC officer team and advisor, and the YPC grad student committee worked together to promote student events. I’m delighted to share a few of the highlights and new developments, crafted especially with students in mind, for the upcoming 2016 AIM in Orlando. The sheer volume of technical presentations, committee meetings, student competitions, and special events can be more than even seasoned attendees can process. To offset that overwhelmed first-timer feeling, an “AIM 101” session, led by members of the IPC officer team and YPC executive committee, has been added just ahead of the Welcome Reception on Sunday. While initially created to support and guide student members who are new to the AIM, this session will be useful for any first-time attendee. In addition, much of the AIM schedule has been reworked to reduce the number of events conflicting with student competitions and to encourage students and other members to attend. The proximity of student events to the general meeting hall and to high traffic areas has been improved to draw more attention to the inspired work that students share. If you have a few gaps in your busy AIM schedule, use that time to drop in on a student competition! Perhaps the biggest change is the new Student Awards Breakfast at 7:30 on Wednesday morning. AEM is generously sponsoring the event for all student attendees (registration and ticket required). The winners of all student competitions will be announced and awards will be presented at the breakfast. Members are encouraged to register for this event and join in the congratulations. When many of us think of the AIM, the first word that comes to mind is “overwhelming.” All I remember about my first AIM is a blur of activities and not much sleep. However, I had the luxury of an older student mentor, who dragged me to everything important and showed me the ropes. I was fortunate! I might not have had the opportunity to serve as IPC President and become as engaged as I am today without someone to help me connect. Think about that while you are in Orlando, and try to squeeze in a little time to engage with and encourage our student members. The students with whom you make a connection can grow into valuable members of our Society in the coming years—and include you in their ASABE network of friends. ASABE member Candice Engler, John Deere Systems Engineer, Cambridge, Iowa, USA, EnglerCandiceL@JohnDeere.com.
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