SPARKS:2001 V1/Q2

Volunteers: They're the Key

by Bob Rines, President

Freely offered and dedicated volunteerism is the historic trademark of America's extraordinary success as a social and political society.

Such volunteerism explains how over 10,000 of America's most inquisitive and talented high school students can participate in JSHS, a program administered by just two talented Academy employees. Doris Cousens and Kate Trojano help plan, organize, and coordinate the Regional Symposia at 47 universities throughout the land and in European and Pacific Department of Defense schools.

These regionals are topped off each year by bringing over 300 of the most worthy student science investigators and their teachers from all over the world to the National JSHS to present their research results and to rub shoulders with one another and the leading academic, military, government and private sector leaders in applied science, engineering and technology.

How does the Academy accomplish all this with such a small staff-with smoke and mirrors? Clearly not.

We are aided by thousands and thousands of volunteers. There are:

  • the 47 hardworking symposia committees at each of 47 universities;
  • the thousands of high school and university planners;
  • the hundreds of Army, Navy and Air Force assisting personnel;
  • the hundreds of government and private sector institutions that open their doors for symposia tours;
  • our volunteer "Who's Who" JSHS Advisory Council that serves as our think-tank; and
  • the thousands of enthusiastic parents and mentors who encourage our young scientists and inventors.

I often wonder whether, size for size, our Academy is not even a more prodigious volunteer organization than the Red Cross! But of one thing I am sure. We have not yet found the key or formula to attracting financial volunteerism from benefactors. How can we reach these philanthropists with the message that a dollar with the Academy accomplishes many fold - if not infinitely - more than a dollar with many of the "big and famous"?

Copyright 2002 Academy of Applied Science