Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Rabbit Holes With Randy - Genealogy Society Support

 This week's "rabbit hole" is actually a series of monthly tasks that I perform to support my local genealogical society.  For 30 years, I have been a member of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society which has grown from a local small society with 20-30 members to a local society with 80 to 100 members over time.  It stated by meeting monthly at the local library in a conference room and eventually moving up to the 150 seat auditorium.  And then COVID hit and we went 100% online using Zoom meetings.  The membership dropped to around 70 in the first year, and has grown a bit back to 95 members in the past year, mainly from out-of-town memberships to genealogists who want genealogy help and education.

After I retired from full-time employment in 2002, I joined the CVGS Board of Directors as Research and Queries Chair, then Treasurer, then Program Director, and then President in the 2007-2008 years.  After that, I retained the R&Q chair (but we don't get many queries or help requests anymore) became the Newsletter Editor in 2009, and still hold that position.  Every month, we have these meetings:

1)  A Board Meeting (now on first Wednesday) with the five elected Directors and the 7 to 10 appointed Chairs.  We perform the typical board tasks - reviewing previous projects, approving upcoming projects, setting budgets, providing reports, etc.  

2)  As Research and Queries Chair since 2003, I host and moderate a monthly Research Group meeting (now on second Wednesday).  I usually spend an hour reviewing the genealogy industry news, software, databases, etc., and then we go around the table to discuss the research questions, successes and challenges that the attendees have.  This has evolved from 8 to 12 local members around the conference room table at the Chula Vista library until 2020, and now with 25-35 local and distant members and guests in a Zoom meeting.  Each meeting takes me 2 to 4 hours to prepare, and 2 hours to execute.  The members range in research experience and knowledge from beginning to advanced.  

3)  As Research and Queries Chair, I also host and moderate a monthly DNA  Interest Group meeting (started in 2015, now on third Wednesday).  I usually spend an hour reviewing the genetic genealogy news and demonstrate different tasks, and then go around the table to discuss attendees' questions, successes and problems.  This started with 6 to 10 local members around the conference table at the library, and since 2020 in a Zoom meeting with 20-35 local and distant members and guests.  Each meeting takes me 2 to 4 hours to prepare, and 2 hours to execute.

4)  As Newsletter Editor since 2009, I write, edit and publish a 10 to 12 page monthly newsletter on the weekend following the Board meeting.  The newsletter highlights the upcoming monthly program by a speaker, a summary of the past program, a report on what was discussed at the past Research Group and DNA Interest Group, a Spotlight article (written by another member) of a member, a President's report, an Education Chair report, upcoming Family Tree Webinars or genealogy TV shows, a list of helpful genealogy blog posts and YouTube videos, conference reviews, an occasional article by a genealogy writer, upcoming local society meetings and state or national conferences, a calendar page and a genealogy funny.  Before COVID we were distributing 20-30 newsletters by postal mail to members without email, and by email to the other members.  We discontinued the postal mail when COVID hit.  I spend 3 to 4 hours publishing the newsletter each month.

5)  I hold the society Zoom account, so I create the Zoom meeting for four meetings each month, distribute to Zoom link, and also host the program meeting.  

This rabbit hole consumes about 20 hours each month, but it's well worth the effort.  It helps the society grow, educates and informs the members, and provides connections between the local members and the rest of the genealogy world.  

We all miss being in the physical presence of our friends and colleagues, and the in-person program meetings usually included a snack table and interaction with new members and the speakers.  The biggest benefit of COVID for us was the ability to obtain excellent speakers from all over the world for a reasonable cost to the society.  When we do go back to in-person meetings, we anticipate doing hybrid meetings with some local members in an auditorium or conference room and local or distant attendees watching via Zoom.

Easter week is here, so I need to get the jelly beans and See's candy out for the big kid in the house to search for and enjoy.  


Disclosure:  I receive a complimentary subscription to MyHeritage, and have received other material consideration in past years.  I uploaded my autosomal DNA raw data to their DNA product.  This does not affect my objective analysis of MyHeritage products.

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1 comment:

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Sounds like you are very busy with your genealogical society. You're doing a fine service for them. I do hope you are training assistants for your future replacement. We all need good exit plans.