Fun with petitions!

21 Dec
World Forestry Center Main building entrance

World Forestry Center image via Wikipedia

Well, one post and here I am feeling like we’re old friends already. In lieu of a gossipy life update, I wanted to tell you all about something I’ve been working on with friends. We’re founding a student chapter of the Society of American Foresters on our campus.

I had hoped this would be a more interesting topic, but every time I try to write about it, it ends up being about as gripping as listing the agenda items for a city council meeting. In case you don’t know, that is so boring you will weep and gnash your teeth, which I know because I used to cover them.

So far, this process has involved a lot of paperwork, plenty of e-mails, some storming of offices, and general confusion. And maybe I will come clean about how awkward I can be sometimes. Maybe that sounds more fun than it did on first description?

Mainly, there are tons of administrative things to do. We’ve had to write constitutions and draft a set of standard minimum bylaws, figure out who needs to sign what — that sort of thing. The angry storming bit involved me and three of the acting officers of the group going down in person to the Student Activities office to find out why our calls and e-mails weren’t being returned. But by far, the most interesting step in the process has been circulating the petition to approve a new student chapter.

I’ve been to a few Portland SAF meetings out at the World Forestry Center, so I headed down to the Christmas meeting this past Monday on the suggestion of someone at the Northwest office. I wandered in and sat at the first open spot, and being the slightly awkward person that I am, proceeded to stare off and say nothing to the other six people at the table. Luckily, they started talking to me.

I had a chat with a few of the WFC fellows, one of whom was the senior fellow. He was presenting a slideshow about his experiences studying the human component of ecology in reference to monarch butterfly habitat in Mexico. I tried to make conversation about Abies religiosa with him, not realizing that this would factor into his presentation (and at that point, yours truly was too oblivious to even realize that he was one of the night’s scheduled presenters). I also got the chance to talk with the others at the table about our goals for the chapter and the petition I brought.

As we chatted, the Vice-Chair approached me and asked if I wanted to make an announcement about the petition. I have no idea how she found out why I was there, but I assume it was Jim — the first person I met at the first SAF meeting I attended. Skyler, the acting vice-chair of our group, came to a meeting with me once, and we discovered that Jim is a big advocate for getting students involved, especially often-overlooked community college students. He had offered to help us with anything we might need, so I’d guess he was doing just that.

At any rate, I started to feel a little self-conscious as I talked with the WFC people at my table because I could hear several voices in other parts of the room talking about “the student” and “the petition” and a “new chapter.” Word was spreading fast and I hadn’t even moved from my chair! This might seem like a self-important thing to mention, but I do so to highlight the tremendous excitement on the part of the SAF that has met us on every step of this process; it’s great to feel that what we’re doing matters, and not just to us.

I had the chance to circulate the petition so I could get the necessary 15 signatures, but the thing came back covered in names; when people ran out of lines for signatures, they started making their own. By god, everyone was determined to sign that thing, which was very heartening. Lots of people offering business cards and support afterward, asking questions, inquiring about who our chapter advisor will be so they can get in touch about planning their February meeting on our campus, that sort of thing. Which was fabulous. I was only disappointed that I didn’t have the chance to speak to more people.

I also met the national office representative for Oregon, so I’ll hopefully get our remaining procedural questions answered soon. I’ll keep you posted on our progress with the group, but it’s looking like we can get our chapter off the ground next month!

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2 Responses to “Fun with petitions!”

  1. James D. December 22, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Everybody wants you to succeed. All you have to do is keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll wish you an early congratulations.

    • xylem_up December 22, 2011 at 4:11 am #

      Thanks! It makes me a little nervous sometimes, but it’s good. Like we were talking about the other day — success can be scary. Definitely way scarier than failure, anyhow.

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