Editorial- What do we REALLY know about our Communiuty Based Organization- AMA?

27 Jan 2018 12:18 PM | Daren (Administrator)


I've been a District 1 AVP (Associate Vice President) for just over a year now and I've been getting around the region and interacting on social media to get a better pulse on what our membership really knows about AMA.  My conclusion, unfortunately is not too much!  That's not necessarily a bad thing for a hobby organization or a club.  I'll admit before getting more engaged myself I didn't realize how many benefits, programs and how much support and outreach assistance resided inside AMA.  However, for the largest "Community Based Organization" representing modeling it is somewhat alarming and deserves attention.  In this time of split second communication and an enormous amount of information available at a moment's notice why don't more of our members and officers know more about the organization they belong to, represent and promote? It could be there is too much information or many members choose not to utilize the vast array of technology for communicating or they just want to pay their dues and fly their model planes or enjoy whatever part of this diverse hobby they gravitate to?

Here's the problem with the “I just want to pay and fly” or "pay and play" option of membership.  The hobby industry and AMA has been challenged from many obstacles over the past decade from market pressure on local hobby shops to the proliferation of the drone market and resulting tsunami of crazy legislation from municipalities to Washington affecting all aspects of the hobby.  While all this was eroding the fabric of the "traditional" hobby of modeling, innocent enthusiasts trying to enjoy their pastime were feeling these pressures; having difficulty finding parts and supplies locally, club rosters suffering for conflicts over different "new" disciplines entering the hobby, flying fields and facilities being lost due to encroachment and noise issues, reduction in new entrants into clubs. Those "paying and playing" and not becoming engaged or even informed in the chaos saw dues increasing for the first time in years, started hearing more about government relations, legislation and advocacy when all they wanted to do was get their insurance and play with their models.  The world had changed under their noses and their "Community Based Organization" which supported their beloved hobby quietly in the background with huge events to enjoy, programs of all kinds, benefits reaching far beyond insurance, outreach to schools with STEM programming and much more was now reaching out for help.   Why? Because it was under attack and needed a "call to action" from it's troops, the ones who love the hobby, who know the most about how well the safety code works to mitigate threats, the benefit of assistance with procuring and sustaining flying facilities and more.  All those things happening in the background with little fanfare for all those years was great.  Now, unfortunately due to outside forces the organization required members to become informed and advocate.  To inform and educate those outside the hobby since they were threatening the relationship established with the FAA because of the success of that safety code and threat/ risk mitigation held for decades.  Why? because they too were not informed and educated on the very activities they were attempting to govern.  Who better to educate and inform them than the group who had done it successfully for those nearly 80 years?  So, here we are.  A Community Based Organization recognized by the FAA seeking it's "community" for help.  Lawyers to lobby in Washington costs $, the creation of a department known as Government Relations, not needed a decade ago, to focus on needed advocacy, PR and communications cost $, increasing the outreach to communities, local, state and federal agencies cost $, the list goes on.  So yes, the dues increased to cover these new needed expenses to protect and defend the hobby we all love. 

What now?

AMA is actively improving resources and communication avenues to help members help the organization and the hobby.  The website is being revamped and constantly experiencing improved access.  A great starting point is the Membership "Benefits of this Organization" page and another resource for what's going on is the Government Relations page These are only two resources.  How else can and is AMA helping you help your organization?  Soon you will be seeing a "Government Relations Advocacy Tool Kit" which will include methods and materials to easily advocate for your hobby and AMA with local, state and federal government agencies.  In addition, districts are increasing the number of AVPs and there is a new initiative to encourage each chartered club in AMA to have an engaged "Leader member" who will act as liaison to the AVPs to provide a better source of accurate information being passed to members. AMA realizes that there are areas that need improvement and we are working to do just that but we need the help of members to speak up and share concerns. 

So what can YOU do?  Become informed, reach out to your representatives in AMA: your club officers, leader members, district AVPs, VPs through district website forums and blogs and district social media sites, the AMA website and FB page, and AMA HQ contacts through email or phone.  Give us your feedback- if you see something say something!  Reach beyond the hobby community when the opportunity exists to inform and educate and introduce new people, young and old to the hobby.  Advocate for your hobby however you can and do all this while you are enjoying the ability to have fun with your pastime, it will only continue to exist if we come together as a "community" within this Community Based Organization of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. 

I welcome your feedback anytime.

Thank you,

Daren Hudson

District 1 AVP


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