Tag Archives: ARRL

Collegiate Recruiting: Finding the Next Generation

I had submitted this to QST for review, but apparently SueAnne Griffith’s piece (August 2017) was already in the pipeline ahead of mine. Granted, that assumption also requires that my submission was worthy of publication, but… I’m going to embrace the hubris that it was. 🙂

So, to keep it from going to waste, I am posting it here for your consideration.


Collegiate Recruiting:
Finding the Next Generation

Through the years, I have been involved with many aspects of student organizations, both as member, officer, and now advisor looking to revitalize the club at my alma mater.  Because of this, I have experienced many different styles of recruiting with varying levels of effectiveness. Now, I want to share my experiences in hopes of aiding the growth of other clubs as well.

Becoming known

Every campus has a special place where students gather. For my campus (Go Bobcats!), it was by “the fountain.” For others it may be the quad, student center, or tailgates. But the simple fact is, most institutions will not be willing to allocate a permanent space, and definitely not funding, to a group with only a few members. So recruitment must become a priority.

The Collegiate Amateur Radio Forum at Orlando Hamcation provided some great ideas, but more can be done. Here are some tried and true methods that have been proven effective time and again.

Effective Tabeling

Information tables are a college tradition, but most fall short of perfection. There are elements that will make your effort standout from the crowd. First, it needs to be catchy. Have a well designed banner so people know who you are – they can readily be found online for less than $50.  Have plenty of brochures and handouts as a takeaway item. Many are available from the ARRL, but it is also quite easy to adopt them to your campus.

Approach your local radio club for start-up assistance. See if they can provide go-kits for a demonstration on the table. A portable antenna will certainly be an eyecatcher among other groups who are tabling as well. They may even be willing to provide some funding for handouts and giveaways, which leads to the number one method of getting a college student’s attention: freebies!

Students love free food. It could be pizza, candy, or bags of chips or crackers. The one caveat to this, especially if you are in the south, is to avoid chocolate. It can quickly make a mess if left in sunlight or high temperatures. You can also consider koozies, frisbees, or flash drives (pre-loaded with some club fliers and information, of course).

Have volunteers rotate between talking on the radio and talking to passers by. Some should be in front of the table so it appears friendly and engaging. Be prepared to talk to students in all of the programs offered by the institution, not just STEM. Criminal justice and government majors will likely be attracted to the emergency communication and public service aspects. Journalism, marketing, and communication students will likely be interested in how it ties into the technology used for broadcasting. And yes, STEM students will be interested in the technology and maker aspects.

Keep in mind diversity at your table. Volunteers from your local club are great, but they are just a start. Do your best to also have college age volunteers. Get the YLs involved. If someone’s grandchild is popular in Greek Life or athletics, offer him a lunch to spend an hour with you.

Follow-Up

Outreach is only the first step. You can have a table with dozens of people surrounding it the entire time period, and it still be a failure. Don’t just give out cards, have people sign-up for an email list. You could even include a drawing for a gift card to a local restaurant or the campus bookstore. Then use that information.

Send out an email to everyone who stopped by thanking them for their time and inviting them to follow your club on social media.  Let them know about upcoming events and talks, or license classes. Remember, just because they may not be interested in getting licensed right now, they still may show up for discussions specific to their interest.

Conclusion

Overall, remember to make it fun. College students have enough serious topics to face on a day to day basis. Set up the demonstrations like a mini-Field Day or special event. This is the generation of the smartphone, so instant communication will not impress them. Show them how amateur radio is different, fun, and experiential. It truly is a hobby with something for everyone. It’s just a matter of helping students find something that sparks their interest.

—————–

Daniel R. Simpson, K4DRS was first licensed at 11 years old and was active in amateur radio and other student groups in college and graduate school. He can be reached at P.O. Box 1882, Milledgeville, Georgia 31059 or at k4drs@arrl.net.


 

NPOTA Recap

At the stroke of midnight (GMT) on January 1st, the program which has brought me the most enjoyment in my 21 years as an amateur radio operator drew to a close. National Parks on the Air, a program by the ARRL on conjunction with the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, gave me the kick start I needed to start using and enjoying the HF bands.

There were awards for chasers who contacted a park (my category)  and activators who set up a temporary station in a park, as well as additional criteria for special awards based on number of units worked and promotional efforts during an activation.

I must admit that I was a bit late to the year-long party. I didn’t make my first NPOTA contact until September 17th. But soon, I was hooked. By the end of the year, I had confirmed 57 parks with 60 contacts, earning Honor Roll along the way. While that is a far cry from the top score in the program (K5RX had 460 contacts), for a new HF operator participating only 1/4th of the program duration, I am very happy with the outcome.

This is a video of the pileup for Fort Sumter on December 28th. I had already made contact, but the audio was so good I decided it needed to be documented.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLESNHqg2QY]There is another program, called simply Parks on the Air, that will continue. This one is international and includes state parks, wildlife preserves, and some national forests – making activations much more feasible. I look forward to being able to setup activations during the upcoming year to A. H. Stephens State Park, Hamburg State Park, and possibly Hard Labor Creek State Park. I just need an effective portable antenna system first (suggestions welcome!).

Finally, for those who may be curious, here is a list of units I contacted. You can lookup more details about each park by using the designator (in the parenthetical) at the NPOTA website.

  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail (TR01)
  • Assateague Island National Seashore (SS01)
  • Big Bend National Park (NP04)
  • Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (HP49)
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (PK01)
  • California National Historic Trail (TR14)
  • Canaveral National Seashore (SS02)
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (RC04)
  • Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (MP01)
  • De Soto National Memorial (NM05)
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (RC07)
  • Eightmile National Wild and Scenic River (WR15)
  • Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site (AA06)
  • Farmington National Wild and Scenic River (WR16)
  • Fire Island National Seashore (SS07)
  • Fort Caroline National Memorial (NM08)
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site (NS21)
  • Fort Monroe National Monument (MN32)
  • Fort Sumter National Monument (MN35)
  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (NS28)
  • Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (NS29)
  • Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park (MP02)
  • Grand Canyon National Park (NP22)
  • Green Springs National Historic Landmark District (AA09)
  • Greenbelt Park (DZ04)
  • Homestead NM of America National Monument (MN46)
  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail (TR05)
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (LK02)
  • Jean Lafitte NHP and Preserve National Historical Park (HP17)
  • Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (RC14)
  • Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial (NM15)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (HP25)
  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (HP26)
  • Minute Man National Historical Park (HP27)
  • Mississippi National River and Recreation Areas (RV04)
  • Monocacy National Battlefield (BF06)
  • Natchez National Historical Park (HP29)
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (TR02)
  • Natural Bridge (AA26)
  • North Country National Scenic Trail (TR04)
  • Olympic National Park (NP44)
  • Oregon National Historic Trail (TR07)
  • Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (HP34)
  • Pecos National Historical Park (HP35)
  • Petersburg National Battlefield (BF08)
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail (TR11)
  • Saratoga National Historical Park (HP42)
  • Springfield Armory National Historic Site (NS66)
  • Steamtown National Historic Site (NS67)
  • Sudbury, Assabet and Concord National Wild and Scenic River (WR31)
  • Taunton National Wild and Scenic River (WR32)
  • Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve National Preserve (PV16)
  • Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (TR12)
  • Waco Mammoth National Monument (MN81)
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument (MN73)
  • Westfield National Wild and Scenic River (WR38)
  • William Howard Taft National Historic Site (NS78)

de KF4JAL, EC Baldwin County

ares-cl-lrgWell, since it is finally posted on the website, I guess I can go ahead and announce that I have been appointed as the Emergency Coordinator for Baldwin County, Georgia through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service.

As you can see from my Training Page, I have been working towards becoming more involved with ARES for a while. After I finished the “strongly suggested” courses, I realized there was no formal organization in my home county. A few friends and I got together and decided to work towards reactivating the program.

It took a while to work through the channels, but I received the official word Sunday morning that my appointment was approved. I am excited for this opportunity to work with my fellow Baldwin County radio amateurs, the state leadership, and the local emergency management team. Public service was one of the things that originally attracted to amateur radio, and it is an honor to now have even a minor leadership role.

Field Day 2014

Well, another year’s Field Day has come and gone. And, being Field Day, a comedy of errors made things interesting. To start with, I needed to be two places at one time. So, I started out the day at the Piedmont ARES site in Putnam County. After I couple of hours, I headed south to the Milledgeville ARC site at Georgia College’s West Campus.

Over the course of the day, we had a generator go out, a power supply stop working (probably as a result of the generator), and an antenna fail. But, even with all that and a thunderstorm for good measure, we still managed to have a great time eating barbecue and chatting about the hobby we all love.

Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, we still managed to make some contacts. I was on HF for the first time since getting back into the hobby, and upgrading to General, and was able to get several contacts around the southwest and northeast portions of the country. A friend of mine sent me a message that Saturday night, after leaving the site, he was able to get more contacts at home working as a 1D than both the PARES and MARC sites combined. That’s how it goes I guess. But anyway, here are some pictures of the day’s events.

Join in the Fun for Field Day

Things have changed a lot in amateur radio since I was first licensed. Back then, VHF radio was a way to get out of having a cell phone, or supplemented it when you lived so far out in the country there wasn’t any signal. As I have gotten older and emerged from my unintended sabbatical, some things have changed, and yet a lot remains the same.

Technology has advanced beyond belief. There are modes in heavy use today that hadn’t even been thought of when I passed my Technician exam. But, the core function of ham radio, beyond being a fun STEM based hobby, has been and continues to be public service, especially in times of disaster. We live in a connected world, and I’m as bad as it as anybody. Between WiFi, 4G, and my smart phone, I am constantly IMing, texting, and posting to social media. When those connections become overloaded or go down completely, Ham Radio is ready to stand in the gap.

It does not take much imagination to visualize situations where it may be needed. From basic public service like volunteering for a race to emergency communications in times of widespread disasters, public service is where amateur radio operators move from hobbyests to valuable assets to emergency management.

PrintTomorrow, operators from around the United States, the world, and beyond will participate in a national emergency drill, known simply as Field Day. The purpose is simple, make as many contacts as possible within the specified time frame under less than optimal conditions. This year, the Milledgeville Amateur Radio Club will be set up at Georgia College’s West Campus. I will be out there for most of the evening, and hope to see you there. I’ll also be trying to at least stop by the Piedmont ARES site outside of Eatonton, if time allows.

Field Day is always a fun experience. The ARRL Website has a locator form for a site near you. I hope you get to join in!