Ever since childhood, I have been happiest crawling around turning over rocks, removing bark from stumps and inspecting every potential animal I can see. Early on, I was pretty much on my own, except for encouragement from my parents. At an early age, even before I reached teenage, I started joining various organizations that catered to likeminded geeks. Over the years, I have been involved in, or a member of literally dozens of such organizations. Central to my fascination has always been insects, and my dream was always to become an entomologist.
The first entomological society I joined was “Sveriges Entomologiska Förening” in Sweden. Because I grew up in a small northern town, I never really had the privilege of getting to know other members, and before I had much of a chance I was off to Canada. By then I had made some connections to Swedish entomologists through the professors, lecturers, and students of Umeå University, the Royal College of Forestry (now part of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and Uppsala University. I remained a member of SEF for some years, but once I knew that my planned return to Sweden was not going to happen, I gave that membership up in favour of the societies that I had joined and had closer connections with in North America. I have now been a member in good standing of the Entomological Society of Canada, ESBC, and ESA for more than 35 years, which is almost the entire time I have lived in Canada. I have served each of these societies in executive or other functions, most recently for four years on the executive of the ESC. Through these societies, I have gotten to know many colleagues who I now regard as friends as much as colleagues, I have established research collaborations, and gained a lot of knowledge that I would have missed by only reading what happened to be directly relevant to my own interests. In my opinion, I would not have had what little success I have enjoyed without my engagement in scientific society life.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances of my successor as President, I am currently Acting Past-President. One of my duties is to chair the Nominations Committee, which identifies individuals willing to put their name forward to serve on the ESC Governing Board (If you are interested in putting your name forward for 2nd Vice-President or Director-at-Large, PLEASE CONTACT ME!). In order to help me with this task, I requested a copy of the 2016 membership list. In going through the spreadsheet, I was rather disturbed at the absence of numerous individuals, some of whom have previously served important roles in promoting the ESC (you know who you are!). I know that it is easy to forget to pay the membership dues, but I have a feeling that the reasons for opting out are not always that simple. In the next week or so, memberships will expire, and it is time to once again contribute to your national and regional societies. I know that it seems like a lot of money, but if you think about it, we are talking about sums that are unlikely to break the bank of anyone. The ESC regular membership would be paid off by giving up about 60 cups of Tim Horton’s coffee or 30 cups of Starbucks special coffees. In other words, you would have to forego only about 2-3 cups of Starbucks per month to save enough. It may not seem that supporting the ESC gives you much in return, but if the society is not supported, it would mean that the Canadian Entomologist (one of the oldest journals in the world), the Bulletin, and the Annual meetings would cease to exist. That also means that opportunities to mix with likeminded geeks become more expensive and less frequent. That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
Please, go to the computer right now and join or renew as a member of the ESC (and whatever Regional Society that is close to you). The ESC needs your support, and I believe you will benefit from being part of the national entomological family of Canada. For me, it has been a privilege to be part of one of the most welcoming and inclusive group of people in science. Please join me!