One of the best ways to encourage, engage and find like-minded people is to start a club. Clubs are a great way to refresh your enthusiasm toward a subject that you love. Interaction, learning and discussion can recharge the enthusiast’s passion and can help you to enjoy an activity even more.
Each bee club may have a different objective. Perhaps you focus on raising honeybees solely. Perhaps you focus on encouraging native pollinators, or getting children interested in the subject. Maybe your club encompasses any and all aspects of bees. Whatever the goal, (for that matter, whatever the club) the following can be helpful guidelines to get you started.
Above all! When starting a club, you need to create an open atmosphere, encouraging and supportive of new members. I have personally experienced a group that unfortunately did not make me feel this way. It’s sad because like beekeeping, the subject matter was something of a dying art. Without new members, these skills may be in danger of disappearing all together.
When we moved, I was excited to find that there was a local fiber club (spinning, weaving, etc.) in our area. I attended one meeting and was made to feel as though they were doing me a favor by letting me be there. I’m not a very outgoing person, but I was trying to be positive and upbeat. As a new member I was asked to stand and tell what my experience was in the fiber world. After my red-faced testimony, members immediately began bickering about whether or not I needed to pay my dues toward an upcoming show event, and I was made to feel as though my experience in the fiber world was minimal compared to the active members of the group. (Which was true, but the delivery was sarcastic and bluntly stated.) I was extremely embarrassed and sat quietly for the next 45 minutes wishing the time to go by faster. The rest of the meeting was spent with members arguing and placing blame about a negative comment someone made at the last show, very little was mentioned about fiber work at all, and the whole atmosphere was depressing. Maybe it was just an off-meeting, but I never went back.
I think the best way to establish a peaceful, successful and enjoyable club is to have solid by-laws that outline how the club works, and most importantly how conflict is handled. If issues come up, no one person is singled out, a quick reference to the “rules” and the issue should be ended.
A great way to establish good by-laws is to contact a board member of a club that you admire. Ask for a bit of mentor ship.
Another great way is to get the club members involved. People are more likely to honor a “code” that they helped create.
Majority vote is often the best way to handle difficult situations and new rules.
Creating a small board of people who have specific jobs can help alleviate stress within the group. No-one person will feel overwhelmed with the tasks that keep the club moving forward.
Board members should take their position seriously, with systems of organization, accountability and transparency.
It should be clear and obvious what is expected of its members, how the club works, what is expected of the board members and a concise mission statement.
Board members should be expected to give a report on how their area of the club is fairing.
Problems should be dealt with swiftly and with understanding.
Agree to Disagree
Realize that you can’t make everyone happy. If after an honest effort has been made to rectify a situation, be willing to let members who are overly controlling or difficult to move on to a different club.
Use the board and the by-laws as tools. Often it’s lack of understanding that creates conflict.
Review the mission statement often invite members to suggest direction
Be willing to adapt to new ideas, but not at the cost of foregoing the backbone of the club.