Letter From The President

Getting Together and Building Our Colony

Martin Dorahy, PhD

The recent ISSTD Annual Conference brought together over 400 delegates and some 20 additional attendees joined us for our first foray into offering live streaming for a day of the conference. It was wonderful to see so many new and old colleagues coming together to learn and network, share and connect. The warmth and curiosity on offer during both the sessions and social events has always been a hallmark of the ‘atmosphere’ of ISSTD conferences and the ‘Washington’ conference had no shortage of either. The conference rooms were full of life and energy, and the dance floor following the awards dinner had ‘real estate’ at a premium! The attached photos offer a glimpse of the experience for those who were unable to join us, and may trigger some fond memories for those who were there.

Events like the conference are made possible through the activities of two groups of people within the ISSTD. The first is Therese, Mary Pat and Diamond from the Association Management Group (AMG), who operate ISSTD Headquarters and coordinate many ISSTD functions, and the second is you, our valued members. The only way we can run the activities of the Society is if we have active members working with other members and AMG staff to move forward our training, conferences, education, marketing and growth plans. Active members, engaged in the functioning of the Society, are our biggest asset and resource, and as a result you can make a meaningful contribution by joining a committee, a working group or task force, or getting involved in a myriad of other ways. Psychologists have suggested that people actively engage in the operations of the communities they belong to for different reasons, including 1) the satisfaction and connection garnered from working with others who have similar values and goals, 2) as a way to learn more about the people within the organisation and the organisation itself, and 3) as a means of engaging in personal development by sharing and collaborating with other. There is also the desire to strengthen the organization and play a part in the direction it takes. Thus, getting involved is good for the soul and good for the Society.

The time commitment for engaging with the ISSTD is very variable, with committees like the annual conference committee meeting via internet video link fortnightly. Other committees and working groups meets much less frequency or require a different type of input. For example, we are currently seeking a new editor for our newsletters. Someone who enjoys reading new work and collaborating with the authors on getting it into a final publishable shape, would excel in this role. It requires communication with Headquarters staff and can be done at times that suit the individual or individuals. This role provides a conduit for the Society to be able to communicate with its members. Some committees are eager to boast their numbers and benefit from the energy of new members. For instance, our fundraising committee and our communications committee are seeking people who like to communicate with others to give the Society a voice and ensure its future. These committees and others can be found here.

To create a community that can sustain itself, leafcutter ants (e.g., Atta cephalotes) individually carry serrated sections of leaves back to their colony to provide both shelter and a platform for fungus to grow on, which delivers their food source. These ants are believed to be among the strongest in the animal kingdom on a size-to-strength ratio, being able to carry up to 50 times their own body weight. Their individual efforts sustain and grow the colony. Other ant species, like the longhorn crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis), often work together to carry loads that are too big for one, loads that would be left behind and not obtained for the benefit of the colony if a group did not coordinate, work to set their sights on the goal, and toil together to achieve it.

Whether you can carry big loads alone for the greater good or share the lifting with others, please consider joining the leafcutter and crazy ants of ISSTD to strengthen our colony and to stamp your mark on the future directions and growth of it. You can share your knowledge and enthusiasm and we can all benefit from it. The ISSTD would gain from having you involved and engaged, even if just alittle. There is a place for you, no matter what your time and energy restraints. If you any interest in engaging more with ISSTD, please complete this form which will allow you to note what your interests are, or contact Mary Pat (mhanlin@isst-d.org), Lisa Danylchuk (lisadanylchuk@gmail.com) or myself (martin.dorahy@canterbury.ac.nz). Share your qualities and ability and join with the many hands that make ISSTD work.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Dorahy, PhD
ISSTD President
Christchurch, New Zealand

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