CSBE-SCGAB
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VP Membership Report

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 11:17

VP Membership annual report 2015-2016

Vice-President (Membership) – Harry Huffman

Another busy year for me but I did manage to participate in most of the CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings via conference call as well as the ASABE Membership Development Committee meeting in December (also via telephone conference call).

We were able to introduce a new membership fee category for international members working in countries with lower income status which began for 2016 memberships.

New membership certificates and a welcoming letter were prepared and distributed in November, 2015 and again in May of 2016 for those people first joining our organization in each of these years. Thank you to our very capable Society Manager, John Feddes for doing all of the paper work.

Any current members who do not have a membership certificate and would like one should contact our Society Manager, John Feddes or myself.

The term of initial membership for students was clarified as being between 5 and 16 months. A membership application made in September at the start of fall school term would run until December 31 of the following calendar year. Any application received between January and August in the current year would only be effective until December 31 of that same year.

Along with Ontario Regional Director, Hugh Fraser, we promoted membership in the CSBE-SCGAB at a careers night held at the University of Guelph in January 2016 and gave out 10 free 1-year student memberships to CSBE/SCGAB as a way to introduce them to our organization.  

I was in contact with Mark Crossley, Membership Director of ASABE regarding the possibility of streamlining membership renewal with the use of automatic credit card debiting after email communication with the member. However, ASABE was not receptive to the idea given a number of pit falls that they have discovered with this type of approach. Mark’s response was as follows: “We have discussed this in the past, and while it seems easy enough, other organizations that do this have told me it’s nothing but trouble. Not only do you have to worry about outdated credit card information (exp dates, security codes, updated card numbers, etc…), there’s also the security issue. As it currently stands, we don’t retain credit card information (it’s encrypted), as it goes through PayPal. While I know PP has been problematic for a lot of Canadian members, we’re very close to having an alternative processing system in place for taking CC payments going forward. I’ll keep you posted on that.  Regards – Mark”

Again this year (2016) our big concern was the large number of members who did not renew their membership for 2016. As of the end of March 2016, 53 members and 118 students had not renewed their membership (total of 426 paid memberships received to date). I requested that the Regional Directors try to make a personal contact with these potential members as I did with all of the unpaid international members to give them a gentle nudge to re-join the fold.

It would appear that the various personal contacts by Regional Directors and the Vice President (Membership) were effective, since the over-all 2016 membership numbers did rebound significantly but are still lower than 2015 final numbers by about 14%. It is likely that we will pick up a few more student members once the fall semester begins but that does not address the decline in the general membership category.   



Membership

Statistics

Date

Number of Members

December 2013

692 including 288 students & grad students

December 2014

689 including 300 students & grad students

December 2015

632 including 265 students & grad students

May 2016

541 including 223 students & grad students


I believe that declining membership numbers is an issue that will need to be addressed by the incoming vice president of membership and the rest of council.

Ending on a bright note, we have welcomed 3 new full members, 52 new student members and 10 new graduate student members for 2016.

This was an extremely busy year for me but I did manage to participate in most of the CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings via conference call as well as the ASABE Membership Development Committee meeting in December and the CSBE Membership Engagement Committee meeting in April (both also via telephone conference calls).

I have reviewed the Bylaws and Procedures Operational Manual regarding “member emeritus” and have recommended some additions to be considered at the annual meeting.

I prepared a welcome letter for new members who joined our organization in 2014 to accompany the Membership Certificate that was prepared by John Feddes and mailed to each new member.

This will be done again this summer for new members joining in 2015. Any others who would like a membership certificate can contact Society Manager, John Feddes or myself.

The term of initial membership for students was clarified as being between 5 and 16 months. A membership application made in September at the start of fall school term would run until December 31 of the following calendar year. Any application received between January and August in the current year would only be effective until December 31 of that same year.

I promoted membership in the CSBE-SCGAB at an engineering meeting hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Affairs in October 2014 and again at a careers night held at the University of Guelph in January 2015.

I researched the possibility of adding a sub-category of International Member to recognize the reduced ability of potential members from low income countries to afford the standard international fee to join CSBE-SCGAB and ASABE. A reduced fee schedule, similar to that used by ASABE was approved by Council at our April 15th, 2015 meeting starting for 2016 fees.

Our big concern early this year was the large number of members who did not renew their membership for 2015. As of the end of February 2015, 158 members and 95 students had not renewed their membership. I requested that the Regional Directors try to make a personal contact with these potential members as I did with all of the unpaid international members to give them a gentle nudge to re-join the fold. At the April meeting of Council, I was given approval to send out a letter via email to all unpaid members asking for them to reconsider or failing that a reason for not renewing. I sent out 210 emails to unpaid members on May 1st, 2015 with 9 invalid emails being bounced back to me. Of the potential 201 recipients, I received 14 responses (7%) with 7 not interested in renewing for the following reasons; 4 – no longer relevant to my work, 1 – budget cut at company, 1 – unemployed for 3 years so cannot continue with cost, 1 – retired for 4 years & no longer interested. For the 7 positive replies; 3 – payment processing issues, 3 – just did   not get around to it yet, 1 – department no longer covering my membership so will now need to pay myself.

It would appear that the various personal contacts by Regional Directors and the Vice President (Membership) were effective, since the over-all 2015 membership numbers did rebound significantly and are now essentially the same as last year. Not sure why members do not renew in a more timely manner.  

Membership

Statistics

Date

Number of Members

September 2013

660 paid including students

May 2014

570 paid including 125 students

May 2015

574 paid including 107 students

       

Ending on a bright note, we are welcoming 10 brand new members, 30 student members and 19 graduate student members for 2015.  

I took on this position in July 2013 at the annual meeting held in Saskatoon. While I’m still learning the job requirements, it has been a good experience to date.

I did participate in 5 of the 6 regularly scheduled CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings held during the year and represented CSBE-SCGAB on the ASABE Membership Council with one teleconference meeting and several email contacts.

All of the Agricultural/Biological/Biosystems Engineering departments were contacted and asked to consider our various awards for student design projects and thesis awards through CSBE and the CSBE Foundation. To date (May 21) only Laval University and University of Guelph have submitted student winners.

Regarding membership numbers for the CSBE-SCGAB we are in decline and may wish to develop some strategies to address this situation.

Membership Statistics:                       

  • September 2013: 660 paid members including students
  • March 2014: 445 paid members including 63 students
  • May 2014: 570 paid members including 128 students    

The unpaid membership was contacted via email during April 2014 and as you can see we did encourage a good number to continue their membership in the organization. However, the paid membership is still down by approximately 14%. 

I did develop a set of personal goals for this position on council but was only partially successful in meeting them. Hopefully I will be more successful next year. 

As of May 2012, our CSBE/SCGAB membership was 642. Of which 173 were undergraduate students, 74 graduate students and 395 full members. The number is within the fluctuating average of the society, up from the 585 of 2011 and down from the 673 number of 2010.

Throughout the year, there have been a number of telephone conferences with the Membership Development Committee of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). As a highlight of the activities this year, ASABE retained the services of McKinley Advisors to conduct a survey about its membership and the engagement of faculty and student in the society. The objective of this project was to identify an action plan for ASABE to help in the recruiting and retention of its members. The conclusions of this survey identified certain strengths (youthful enthusiasm in the student activities of the Society; the longstanding history of the Society) and weaknesses (conflicts of identity in branding agricultural versus biological; lack of public awareness (potential employers) as to what a biological engineer can do).

Based on the word cloud generated from the student survey, the Society would be advised to address the issues related to its recognition and its brand and further consolidate its industrial and community relationships and networks.

At the May 2012 meeting, the Membership committee discussed on ASABE’s 2012 Strategic Priorities, where the Society will work at enhancing the image of ASABE to other professional societies, the public, and the profession and will target to build cohesion within the Society to ensure a pride of belonging.    

McKinley

Student Word Cloud (McKinley Advisors)

With the support of the Local Arrangements Committee, the CSBE-SCGAB and NABEC are working closely together to develop an excellent program for the Annual General Meeting and Joint Technical Conference in Orillia, ON this July 15-18. There are four enticing and informative workshops scheduled for the Sunday at the start of the conference:

  • Biogas - Technical Approaches to Farm-Based Systems;
  • Composting Facilities - Design Challenges and Solutions;
  • Energy Crop Production; and
  • Nanotechnology - Practical Solutions in Agriculture, Food and Biological Systems.

Participants in the workshops are eligible for continuing professional development credits. Over 120 abstracts have been received for presentations and posters in the technical sessions that will follow during the conference. To round out the schedule, the Local Arrangements Committee has planned an exciting slate of professional and recreational activities. Visit the conference website (http://www.bioeng.ca/nabec-csbe2012) for more details to help you plan your trip to Orillia this summer!

Monday, 19 December 2011 14:45

News from VP membership

ASABE has signed a contract with a marketing consultant firm to help the professional society understand why ag/bio engineering students and faculty do or don’t engage with ASABE.

With the help of faculty and student leaders at three university sites, the consulting firm plans to visit each campus to conduct on-site interviews with non-member faculty and hold focus groups with non-member undergrads. They will also conduct phone interviews ahead of time with student and faculty members, as well as meeting face-to-face as time allows during campus visits. When the project is complete, the consulting firm will present ASABE with recommendations for a recruitment strategy and path forward for assessing and addressing our membership needs. This particular project is projected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012. CSBE is hoping to learn some pointers from this exercise to bring new perspective to our own recruitment efforts within Canada.

Along this line, ASABE has launched its 2012 Initiative Fund program (http://www.asabe.org/about-us/governance/initiative-fund.aspx), to support the creation of new products or services and to seed new activities targeting priorities of the society. Namely on:

Image

  • Enhance the image of ASABE to other professional societies, the public, and the profession
  • Build cohesion within the Society - feeling/pride of belonging
  • Consistent image/brand/professional appearance

 

Expertise

  • Strong in our traditional areas and growing in our emerging areas
  • Focus our expertise on emerging topics within renewable energy, water, fiber, food
  • Define core competencies
  • Do we aspire to be best - what arena(s)?

Outreach

  • Align Society with programs at universities
  • Cooperation with other groups
  • Engagement of young professionals

Student outreach K-12 and university

Membership Committee

The mandate of the Vice President Membership is to act with the Executive Council and the Membership Recruitment Committee, the latter of which is comprised of the Regional Directors, to maintain and increase membership in the Society. The specific responsibilities associated with this office are described in the Society’s Procedures and Operations Manual available on the website (www.bioeng.ca).

Membership trends

Figure 1 shows the demographics for the Canadian Society for Bioengineering (CSBE) for the years from 2002 to 2011. Seventy-nine new members joined in 2011, which is about the same as the historic average, but a marked drop from the larger membership cohorts that joined the CSBE in 2006-2008. Retention from those large cohorts has been proportionately lower than retention of cohorts from prior years, resulting in a net decline from recent higher membership numbers to a total of 585.

 

Wednesday, 07 July 2010 10:40

Vice-President Membership Report 2009-2010

Membership Activities

The mandate of the Vice President Membership is to act with the Executive Council and the Membership Recruitment Committee, including the Regional Directors, to maintain and increase membership in the Society. The specific responsibilities associated with this office are described in the Society’s Procedures and Operations Manual available on the website (www.bioeng.ca).

Renewed ties with Engineers Canada (EIC), the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC), and the International Commission of Agricultural Engineering (CIGR) are bearing fruit, as evidenced by this year’s CIGR World Congress in Quebec City. Stéphane Godbout will assume the role of Liaison Officer to the CIGR after the conclusion of the congress, taking over the position from Lal Kushawa. Claude Laguë is the new Liaison Officer to the EIC, and has been reporting regularly to the Society executive in this capacity. Neil McLaughlin now serves as the Liaison Officer to the AIC. In this regard, the AIC is potentially a valuable ally and resource. For instance, the inaugural issue of the AIC publication Sustainable Futures (Spring 2010) contains several articles which prominently feature biotechnology, bioprocessing, bioresource technology, etc. It must be noted, however, that the word “engineering” does not appear in that issue, although engineering is implicit in the subject of each of those articles!

Finally, an electronic survey of members who have left the Society is currently being developed to help generate ideas about how the Society can improve and grow to better serve its membership.

We have extra copies!

We have extra hard copies of CBE Journal

Volume 56 (2014)
Volume 57 (2015)
Volume 58 (2016)

Available at only 60 CAD each (including shipping).

Please contact John Feddes at manager@csbe-scgab.ca  to place your order.

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