AOS Decline

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If you have an interest in orchids, you have an interest in the AOS. Someone else is curating information and a level of documentation that the Internet hasn't gotten to yet, or, historically, ever....poo poo it, and the hierarchy has its problems, but it is still a central organization that has all of our interests at heart. We'd be fools to let it dissolve...

Unless they've added a lot more to their website in the past couple of years, the member's section of the AOS website simply doesn't have any information on it that I don't already have access to for free elsewhere on the Internet. Documentation of awards (which I'm assuming you're referring to) is interesting information but not worth the membership fee for me. So again, it's great for that niche group of people that really want access to that stuff but not really for the "average" grower. I would be sad to see the AOS dissolve, but that alone is not gonna make me open my checkbook. They have to offer me something that is very important: value. And right now, they just don't have that. I definitely think that not having what I believe to be the most important thing about the AOS right now (awards) would be a negative thing for orchid growing as a whole, but at the same time I personally don't get my plants judged, so I'm not going to donate money to support a service that I don't use.

Regarding some of Paul's comments, my orchid society definitely seems to consist of primarily middle-aged people and seniors. Which I think is inherent of any horticulture-based group, because young people don't usually "have the time" to bother with these kind of things and tend to partake in more shallow activities in their spare time. I say that as a 22 year old guy that has been a member of my society since I was 15. And I am one of only a few people in the group I would say under the age of 30-35. It is crucial for any group with a higher-aged demographic to try to attract younger people; you always need fresh blood to keep things interesting, and you need to encourage younger people to get into the hobby so that it continues to grow and doesn't die out with the current generation of growers. There are two things you can do right off the top of my head to attract younger people: cut costs and modernize (and often, the two go hand-in-hand). For example, if Orchids magazine were to become an electronic format and the cost of membership were cut as a result, I would be tempted to rejoin the AOS. Although it would be nice to see more value-added incentives beyond that, particularly for people outside of the States such as myself (if they are interested in remaining an international organization despite the name).
I was a member of AOS for 15 years, and was in the judging for 15 years too. I lost my AOS and judging passion, quit at the same time. But I still love growing orchids. My passion is growing orchid, not judging orchid. Growing orchids is much more satisfying than just sitting and judging other people's orchids.
I registered recently, to have a look.
Their website is a complete mess. Online AQPlus/Orchid Plus/whatever isn't working. The website keeps asking me to "Edit [my] profile". I can't even reset my password.
It really sucks.

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