By Amy Roady, AAEA Membership Committee Chair
For the past nine months, the AAEA Membership Taskforce and Board of Directors have been carefully and thoughtfully considering membership options. We have discussed who we want to be in the future, what kinds of members we need to lead us forward and how we can best represent and serve our members. It’s something we’re passionate about.
We all have passion. It guides us in our careers. Our goal is to be inclusive of our membership, anticipate where it’s going forward and stay true to our vision and foundation. We know this isn’t an easy task. We know that agricultural journalism, the publications we create and the communications field are changing.
The AAEA board is proposing new membership categories that reflect the editorial functions of our members, serve communicators who want to support editorial and content creation, and engage communicators who are at different ends of their career. The proposal allows more potential members serve in leadership roles while valuing the editorial purpose of our organization. It also provides more clarity to membership classes.
In the past we had five membership classes: Active, Affiliate, Honorary Life, Student and Retired.
Under the new membership proposal we will have six membership classes: Editorial, Associate, Partner, Student, Retiree and Honorary Life.
In short, under most situations, if you are an Active Member now, you would become an Editorial Member. If you create editorial content about agriculture or food for publication but work for a non-profit, government or education institution or agribusiness company you would move from an Affiliate Member to an Associate Member. If you value supporting AAEA but have more of a marketing or public relations role you would move from an Affiliate Member to a Partner Member. If you are a Student Member, Retiree Member or Honorary Life Member, your membership class would stay the same.
It’s also important to note that in the new classes, Editorial and Associate Members are eligible to serve on committees, the board of directors and to be elected an officer of the association. Associate Members cannot hold the office of president and vice president during the same term. The current president or vice president must be an Editorial Member. Partner Members can serve on AAEA committees and can be elected to the board of directors, just like Affiliate Members now, but are not eligible to serve as president or vice president.
If you are a freelancer and wondering where you fit, the answer will depend on the type of work you do and whom you do it for. It should be pretty clear for most people, but when in doubt, the membership committee will make a determination.
Now, here are the longer, complete descriptions of the proposed membership categories:
Editorial Member– Individuals working for general or specialized agricultural publication or media outlet published in the United States or Canada and which either (1) has paid circulation and/or (2) accepts paid advertising. The primary source of funding for the media outlet comes from either paid circulation or paid advertising. The primary job function of the communicator is media and content creation.
Associate Member– Individuals engaged in content creation, photography, video, design, digital and social media, blogging or other communications work directly related to publishing content about agriculture or food. Individuals engaged in agricultural communications work for a governmental agency, an educational institution, a non-profit institution or foundation, or an agribusiness company.
Partner Member– Individuals employed by agribusiness companies, marketing and public relations agencies, commodity organizations, government agencies and others who support AAEA but whose individual role does not have an editorial or content generation function. Communicators who primarily advocate for a position or are sponsored content providers are eligible for partner membership.
Student Member– Full-time student enrolled in an approved agricultural or communications curriculum.
Retiree Member– Retired memberships are available for members who are retired and no longer working in a communications role.
Honorary Life Member– Honorary life membership may be granted to members who have rendered distinguished service to the association and to agriculture.
We want to hear from you. We want you to engage and attend Ag Media Summit this summer, where this proposal will be voted upon. We welcome discussion and we welcome your support for this proposal. We’re passionate about our organization and want to see it thrive.
To view the Proposal for New Membership Categories discussion, click here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This vote will take place in person at the annual AAEA- The Ag Communicators Network business meeting at the 2018 Ag Media Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona on Tuesday 7. A conference call line will be open for comments from those who cannot attend in person, but votes will not be accepted via conference call. According to the existing AAEA constitution, AAEA members must physically attend the meeting to vote on these changes. For questions, please contact Julie Deering, AAEA President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Amy Roady, Membership Chair, at email@example.com.