The role of President is sometimes likened to that of ship’s captain. The captain is in charge of day to day operations on the vessel. S(he) interprets the directives from the ship’s owners, makes decisions about how to implement those directives, and conveys orders to the crew. On the surface, a president’s role may seem similar, but in a democratic organization there is a curious difference: the ship’s owners are all the members of the organization, including the crew themselves! The president’s role in such a society is to try to understand the will of the entire membership and translate those ideas into action. But even the task of understanding and implementing the will of the membership can’t be done well by a single person. Just as a captain can’t hope to run a ship without a good crew, one person does not comprise an executive committee. Fortunately, the CSBE-SCGAB has an excellent crew on deck and the results are apparent. What follows is evidence of some of the good work of your executive committee. It is an incomplete list in no particular order and I must emphasize that every member of the committee, whether they are mentioned here by name or not, is valued and appreciated.
Our Annual General Meeting and Technical Conference in Edmonton is on the launch pad and ready to rocket skyward! Rick Atkins and his energetic team have toiled diligently to build a great program of technical and social activities. The turbulent and uncertain economy has restricted travel budgets for many of us but, nevertheless, the meeting is shaping up to be a dynamic one. Make sure that you are registered for this flagship event!
The efforts of Editor Sri Ranjan, Associate Editors, Reviewers and Technical Committee in modernizing the operations of the Canadian Biosystems Engineering Journal are paying off. This success is shown by dramatically shorter review and publication times (printed on the articles themselves) and rebounding submission numbers. The online, open-source CBEJ is now well positioned to thrive, especially considering statements by NSERC and other government funding agencies that they will require all publications from research that they support to be freely available to the public.
Vice-Presidents Regional, Fahimeh Yazdanpanah (outgoing) and Chella Vellaichamy (incoming) are working together with the Regional Directors to revitalize the grassroots activities of the society across the country. My vision is to have a small, informal committee in each region that supports local CSBE-SCGAB activities and catalyzes new ones. The committees provide continuity, “corporate memory”, and a sustained level of activity and enthusiasm. This revitalization can be a challenging task that requires the engagement of many people at the regional level, and it is progressing more rapidly in some regions than in other. This is a good entrance to the society’s activities for members looking to become more involved.
The membership of the CSBE-SCGAB is stable in a time when small, volunteer-run societies everywhere struggle to remain viable. This is due in large part to efforts spearheaded by our conscientious V.P. Membership, Harry Huffman. Membership numbers in the CSBE-SCGAB, as I’ve written elsewhere, are not for me an end in themselves. They are, however, one piece of evidence of to show that the members value the organization and that they feel engaged in and informed about the society. Harry is instrumental in making sure that this is the case.
Our linkages with sister organizations, particularly the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) are strong and mutually valuable. We should work to cultivate those friendships and we will both strengthen those organizations and enjoy the rewards. Please see my recent report to Council for details about how you can become engaged with those organizations.
I will close this report by appealing once again to you, personally, to invest in your society. You can do this in small ways, as your time allows, by becoming involved with your local committee and Regional Director. You could alternatively choose a bigger role by volunteering on any of a number of committees at the national level, or even standing for election to an executive position. It is up to us to come together to strengthen and reinvent the way that we live and work together. No one else can do this for us as well as we can do it for ourselves, if we only make the effort.