published November 29, 2011

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Cultivating a Brighter Future

I am writing this message as the trustees return from another productive meeting, this one in San Antonio, Texas. The members of the Alamo Orchid Society, under the direction of cochairs Jeanne Buchanan and Wayne Marine, produced an outstanding orchid show. It was a friendly atmosphere with informative speakers and impressive orchids. In fact, the atmosphere was so congenial that our auction Friday evening raised $30,000 for the operation of the American Orchid Society. Not only did Jeanne, Wayne and their cadre of volunteers produce a great event, but I made new friends and further expanded my understanding of orchid cultivation.

Put April 25–29, 2012, on your calendar and plan a trip to our Spring 2012 Members Meeting in Wichita, Kansas, sponsored by the Kansas Orchid Society. This event will bring together orchid cultural information from some of our best growers, first-class plants available for commercial purchase and the opportunity to make new friends and talk orchids with like-minded enthusiasts. What could be better? Information will be forthcoming in Orchids magazine, on the AOS website and in the AOS enewsletter.

The 20th World Orchid Conference took place at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, November 13–20, 2011. A number of members of the American Orchid Society spoke at this prestigious event. The conference was held in conjunction with the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and provided an incredible opportunity to meet and collaborate with members of our international community in a world-class venue.

In an effort to enhance your Society, a number of important decisions were made at the San Antonio meeting of the Board of Trustees. The sale of the AOS headquarters building and gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, was successfully negotiated, and final settlement will occur on November 30, 2011. The purchaser, the Sandra C. Slomin Foundation, plans to use the facility to provide family, community and healthcare services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. What a laudable use for the facility! According to the Slomin Foundation, the gardens are a perfect setting and while they will undoubtedly make some changes to the layout, those changes are intended to be made with minimal impact to the grounds. We could not have asked for a better fit in a buyer.

After investigating a number of potential strategic partners, including botanical gardens throughout the United States, our Relocation Committee made its report to the trustees in San Antonio. The goal was to find a strategic partner whose mission complements ours and with whom a partnership would benefit both parties. After interviews were conducted and the issues weighed, the trustees voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida (www.fairchildgarden.org).

Opened in 1938 by a group of passionate plant collectors and growers, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was named for Dr. David Fairchild, one of the most renowned plant collectors of the 20th century. Fair-child Garden has a committed organization of more than 1,200 volunteers. There are a number of exciting programs in place; the ambitious professional staff has demonstrated the organization’s commitment to education in its wide-reaching programs for the Miami-Dade County school system through The Fairchild Challenge. In addition, cooperative arrangements with universities are expanding the research program, and a major effort is underway to construct a large display house for epiphytes with an emphasis on orchids. With 45,000 FTBG members, the AOS relocation is a perfect opportunity to foster cooperative programs among Fairchild Garden, the academic community and the American Orchid Society.

The final decision that impacts you — our members — is the appointment of a Nominating Committee. Its task is to find and recommend qualified people to serve as officers and trustees of the Society. Suggestions of candidates for president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and trustees are being received by Tom Etheridge, Nominating Committee chair. If you would like to nominate a committed member of the American Orchid Society, please send your suggestion(s) to Tom at nominating_committee@aos.org. These will be exciting times for your Society; please consider taking a leadership role.

Finally, I would like to thank the staff members for their dedicated service as well as the many volunteers who have kept the AOS Visitors Center and Botanical Garden in Delray Beach operating smoothly. You have done wonders for the Society by answering telephones, typing, filing and assisting with the gardens and greenhouses. I also want to thank the members of the current and past boards, as well as our committees, who travel all over the country to ensure that your Society is working.

This is what our Society is all about. Certainly it’s about orchids, but it’s more than that. It’s about enthusiasts throughout the world sharing their passion and becoming involved with and caring for this organization. It’s about building a community of friends, peers, mentors and leaders, individuals willing to share their expertise in and fervor for growing the most wonderful flower in the world. Enjoy the experience with us — volunteer to serve.

Chris Rehmann, President
American Orchid Society
(email crehm@arh-us.com)